The headline was irresistible: Why Stressed Out Men Prefer Heavier Women.
So here we have one more study, indirectly concerning the female form. Why not a (useless? useful?) conclusion that addresses womanly attributes, and how they’re shared with men at times involving their manly stress?
Isn’t it to be expected that both sexes turn to anything that provides relief when we’re harried, we’re frightened, or we’re anxious?
Maybe it’s chocolate, or homemade soup, or a few too many martinis. Maybe it’s a 10-mile run in the quiet of the morning. Maybe, if you’re a heterosexual male, it’s the warm and welcoming comforts of a woman’s body.
Human Comfort Factor; Evolutionary Attraction
As to the Healthland article, it cites research which indicates that:
… the body type that a man finds attractive can change depending on his environment and circumstances…
And one of those circumstances? You got it. Stress.
The article points out:
… when men were placed in stressful situations, then asked to rate the attractiveness of women of varying body sizes, they tended to prefer beefier frames, compared with unstressed men whose tastes skewed thinner… [suggesting] body size preferences are not innate, but are flexible…
Well isn’t that good news! And don’t we know as much already?
What Men Find Attractive About Women
When men are asked what they notice first in a woman, sometimes they say the smile, the friendly manner, the eyes. (I’ve always been convinced that’s a lie at worst, and creative license with the truth at best.)
I suspect that what men initially zero in on is overall impression of attractiveness – how the woman presents herself and the attitude she projects. That (I believe) is followed by awareness of body part turn-ons (or turn-offs): chest, hips, legs, butt. Some men no doubt register hair color.
Otherwise? Your guess is as good as mine (and I will state plainly that the above is my opinion), though I would venture to add body language and voice as possible deterrents to attraction, or unarticulated enhancers.
Of course, as men and women get to know each other, our impressions of attractiveness change. Pudgy may become “voluptuous.” Wrinkled may become “handsomely weathered.” And then that smile kicks in after all, along with an understanding look, the sweetness of a kiss, the mirthful shared confidences, not to mention the warmth and responsiveness of an intimate embrace.
Yes, these are assumptions (and observations). Gentlemen – I’d love for you to refute if you think I’m wrong!
Isn’t there pleasure in experiencing the fullness of a womanly body? Something to hang on to, as it were? When you are passionately engaged, don’t all your senses kick in – not only the visual and the currently conventional tastes of what you are supposed to find attractive?
Skin and Bones
I’ve never been drawn to exceptionally thin men. Lean? Okay, but I genuinely prefer a male body with substance. I don’t find skin and bones attractive in either sex, though I clearly recognize our society’s preoccupation with achieving something akin to that – with big boobs (naturally?) if possible, when it comes to the women.
Personally, I wouldn’t want to bed a man who is bordering on anorexic; I can’t understand the desire to bed a bony woman. Of course, we come in all shapes and sizes, our preferences in sexual matters are a complex cocktail, and yet when we’re attracted to the person, for many of us, the physical fades in importance altogether.
A “non-negotiable” becomes irrelevant. Tastes also evolve.
Womanly Body as Comfort Station?
A womanly body – of the sort we all seem to eschew in public, just makes sense to some of us. For one thing, it’s our more natural form, which doesn’t preclude both health and fitness. For another, we’re stronger when we’re properly fueled with healthy food, and stronger could imply saner, and saner means a better partner, no?
Not only does it make sense that a man who is stressed would be more attracted to a woman with something “to grab hold of,” but it seems like we all would feel more grounded, more competent, more able to take on the world – if we accepted a little meat on our own frames, and considered it life’s inherent reinforcements.
Average Heights and Weights, Comparison to Earlier Generations
When I went searching for weight comparisons to the America of 1960 or thereabouts, data reveals that men and woman are both taller and heavier. No surprise, considering the frightening statistics on obesity in this country.
Yet the ideal body type was Marilyn Monroe, and gorgeous healthy-sized women are, by today’s standards, left feeling inferior – and fat – when neither ought to be the case.
Returning to the originating article, which asserts that evolutionary reasons may be at the core of these findings, wherein “a woman’s thin physique may signal illness, frailty and the inability to reproduce,” I will mention that the referenced research relies on the participation of 81 heterosexual men, and that’s hardly a representative sample.
Then again, I return to my own “common sense” reasoning. Surely a woman who isn’t hungry has more to give emotionally. Surely, she’s more able to express passion, compassion, and to support those who love her including the partners who seek comfort in her heart and her arms.
And now, where’s the companion study on easing a woman’s stress? What comforts, conditions, or practicalities might be warranted?