Now you and your significant other have one more thing to bond over whilst roasting chestnuts over your faux fire and wearing matching Burberry slippers this season: new research has found that seeing pictures of beautiful models actually make the men folk feel badly about themselves, just like it does to us women! Porn purveyors everywhere hang their heads in shame.
To come to this conclusion, researchers recruited men for three different groups. The first group (a.k.a. The Lucky Ones) got to flip through Maxim, FHM and Details for an hour, focusing on pictures of objectified and sexually idealized women. The second group (a.k.a. the Not As Lucky Ones) paged through pictures of well dressed male models. I’m imagining there was a lot of David Beckham being thrown around. The last group (a.k.a. The Bored Ones) got to read technology articles. The men then completed a survey about their self esteem. Surprisingly the group least affected was the men who had to stare at Beckham’s Armani for an hour. The group most negatively affected? The group with the lad mags.
At first this conclusion surprised Jennifer Aubrey, the lead researcher, as similar studies have shown that it is the same-sex models that make women want to slit their wrists with a $2,500 diamond-encrusted letter opener. But for men it was the models of the opposite sex that caused self-hate. Eventually she concluded that “the exposure to objectified females increased self-consciousness because men are reminded that in order to be sexually or romantically involved with a woman of similar attractiveness, they need to conform to strict appearance standards.”
So basically the men knew that they, the average joes, would never have a chance with a woman like that because they’re still wearing their button-down jean shirt and braided belt. This effect was mitigated though if the hot models were pictured with average looking “boyfriends.” (No word on if having the average-looking boyfriends holding large fake food added to the emotional punch.)
Two things struck me about this research:
1. This is just more evidence that men consider a woman’s attractiveness her primary selling point. I mean, did any of them men think to themselves, “Sure, she’s smokin’ hot but will she discuss The Simpsons with me or buy me hemerrhoid cream?” And that makes me depressed.
2. I’d be interested to know if the effect on men was as marked as it has been shown to be on women. Were the men in the study motivated to change themselves? Get surgery? Be bulimic? Or was it just a little uncomfortable?
The girls over at Jezebel summed up my thoughts exactly, “Models make women feel bad. They make men feel bad. So who exactly are they supposed to be appealing to”
Photo Credit: W magazine is the source of these supremely ironic photos of skinny models with gigantic food.