Women with attractive husbands are more likely to develop an eating disorder.
Research from Florida State University shows wives who crash-diet to slim down are often driven to do so if they feel their husband is better-looking than them.
They found men were rarely motivated to do the same, regardless of how attractive they considered their wife to be.
Experts say the research is key to improving resources for women who suffer eating disorders, and could be useful information for couples to keep in mind for their relationship.
’If we understand how women’s relationships affect their decision to diet and the social predictors for developing unhealthy eating behaviors, then we will be better able to help them,’ said lead author, doctoral student Tania Reynolds.
’The results reveal that having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive.’
Reynolds added that research shows women tend to overperceive just how thin their partners want them to be and, as a result, may inappropriately pursue dieting and a thin body.
’One way to help these women is for partners to be very reaffirming, reminding them, "You’re beautiful. I love you at any weight or body type,"’ Reynolds said.
’Or perhaps focusing on the ways they are a good romantic partner outside of attractiveness and emphasizing those strengths: "I really value you because you’re a kind, smart and supportive partner."’
That extra motivation to diet did not exist among women judged more attractive than their husbands. As for men, their motivation to diet was low regardless of their wives’ attractiveness or their own.
The study, published in the journal Body Image, offers productive insights about relationships.