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Dating is more stressful for overweight women, study finds


Modern women are constantly encouraged to accept their bodies--to love themselves no matter what shape or size.

They're supposed to rise above negative cultural stereotypes, especially ones that have to do with being ugly or unlovable if you're overweight.

Heavy issues

But it's not that simple, a recent study found. It seems that overweight women experience much higher levels of stress, fear and worry when it comes to dating.

A research team led by Brenda Major at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), studied 99 women with varying levels of BMIs--some considered thin, some considered normal and some considered overweight or obese.

The team monitored participants' levels of stress and physiological responses, while the women recorded a speech about themselves that would be presented to potential romantic partners.

One group of participants was told that the speeches would be videotaped and shown to potential dates, while the other group was told the speeches would be strictly audio-based for the potential dates to hear.


The results were consistent with what Major predicted: In the videotape group, the heavier a woman weighed, the more stressful her experience was.

"We found that when women believed their weight would be visible to evaluators, the higher their BMI, the greater their stress reactivity, as indexed by increases in MAP from the baseline," said Major.

Moreover, these same women appeared to experience high levels of cognitive "depletion," suggesting that the mere stress of being seen on tape--and possibly judged--by a potential romantic partner was enough to limit their mental resources.

Reason for concern

While Major's study doesn't reveal strikingly new information, it does shed light on the fact that even overweight women who are confident with their bodies become incredibly agitated when fearing the judgment of others. Major notes that the stigma associated with being overweight is a bigger issue than we tend to admit.

"Appearance is a huge factor in dating and attraction for both men and women, but particularly for women," she said.

Source: Huffington Post