The ugly truth about attractiveness

The attractiveness of a romantic partner can be a driving force behind the desire to diet and be slim, although that motivation contrasts sharply between men and women, say US psychologists.

Essentially, their research shows that women who are less attractive than their partners are more motivated to diet and focus on their appearance.

As for men, their motivation to diet is low — regardless of their partner or wives' attractiveness or their own.

“The results reveal that having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive," say co-authors Tania Reynolds, a doctoral student, and Assistant Professor Andrea Meltzer, both from Florida University.

That’s because less attractive wives are more inclined to exhibit disordered eating patterns.

Their work, which appears in the journal Body Image, offers insights about relationships in which a woman fears she'll fall short of her partner's expectations.

The researchers hope their findings will improve understanding of the predictors that increase a woman's risk of developing eating disorders and other health problems.

The findings highlight the value of adopting an approach that focuses on a couple's relationship, they add.

The study results also support existing research that finds marriages tend to be more successful and satisfying when wives are more attractive than their husbands.

You can access the study here.