Women are constantly receiving conflicting messages about their bodies. Even in Meghan Trainor's supposedly body-positive single "All About That Bass," she contradicts herself. She first tells us that "Every inch of [us] is perfect from the bottom to the top," but then says that "boys like a little more booty to hold at night." Bruno Mars croons that he loves us just the way we are, but then, in the greatest hit of 2004, "Freek-A-Leek," Petey Pablo specifies the exact measurements he prefers on a woman: "24, 34, 46."
Researchers say, however, that the only opinion that counts is that of your significant other. Olga Khazan of the Atlantic just reported on a study recently published in the journal Personal Relationships which suggests that women tend to be healthier and lose more weight through accepting messages from loved ones as opposed to body-related criticisms.
For the study, researchers asked 187 women from a university in Canada questions about their weight, ideal weight, and self-esteem. Then, in order to assess how much support the women had, researchers asked them if they ever discussed their weight with their significant other and, if so, what their reaction was to the question. The responses fell into two categories: acceptance of the partner's weight and pressure to lose weight.
Over the course of nine months, those who received responses showing acceptance to their current weight either maintained or lost weight, shedding about 0.17 units from their body mass index (BMI), while those who felt pressure to lose weight actually gained more weight — about 0.75 units from their BMI.
From these results, the researchers conclude that the group that received acceptance from their partners found more healthy and sustainable ways to lose weight, while the other group may have felt forced into crash diets that ultimately led to weight gain.
"Weight concern may primarily reflect the knowledge that one's weight could lead to rejection that could lead to stress and shame that interferes with weight loss attempts," the authors write.
What's perhaps even more important is that the supported women found themselves less concerned about their size over time. They felt better about themselves — even if they didn't have the "itty bitty waist" or the "round thing in your face" of Sir Mix-A-Lot's dreams.
The message is pretty obvious here: If you want to be healthier, surround yourself with loving people. Indeed, haters are always going to hate, but that doesn't mean you should let one be your partner.
(h/t the Atlantic)