woman on scaleSupposedly a 24-year study “found” that being slim makes a woman happier than any man can. So annoying! As seen in today’s Daily Mail:

According to a 24-year study, a woman’s weight has a greater effect on her spirits than her love life does.

First of all: no shit. The idea that being thin is the best thing you can be has been hammered into the minds of women from an early age. All the Disney princesses are wasp-waisted, because you have to be skinny just to be in the running to get a prince. (And isn’t this why Photoshop so rampant? We have been brainwashed to believe that thinner is better.) But here’s the really effed up part: The Daily Fail reports:

Being obese leads to more misery and suffering than being single… while being thin provides more satisfaction than a relationship. ‘People who are obese are stigmatized by people thinking they are stupid or lazy or just don’t care.’ [a psychologist] said: ‘Someone might say “She’s single but she’s lovely”. A single woman may be incredibly lonely but have much more hope.’

In other words, the worst thing a woman can be is not skinny. It’s worse than being single! Or at least that’s how this data is being interpreted. There’s no mention of physical health or mental health. You’ve got to wonder about all the women who are thin and depressed. Or skinny and physically ill. Or slender and injured. Svelte and in an abusive relationship. Are we really supposed to believe they think “at least I’m not fat”? Another question: Do the Germans who were questioned for this study between 1984 and 2008 accurately represent the way women the world over feel about being thin and being single? The only upside here, if any, is that at least worrying about body weight means a woman is looking within herself to find happiness. If the study had found that being married was the key to bliss, we’d really be mired in sad fairly-tale disillusionment. Article by Jezebel *     *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *       *       *      *      *      *      *      * I’m not really sure what to make of this – I think Jezebel and Daily Mail took it out of context. I was able to find the actual study at pnas.org. The study was done by a German panel to show that personal and economic choices, not just genes, matter for happiness.

“Finally, using BMI as a lifestyle indicator, it appears that for men, being underweight, but not overweight or obese, is associated with lower life satisfaction (β = −0.46, P < 0.05). Obese women are relatively unhappy (β = −0.22, P < 0.001), but women classified here as overweight report about average levels of life satisfaction.
For women, being obese actually reduces life satisfaction more than not having a partner.”

The study’s main goal was to point out that many other things determine the happiness of a person besides genetics. Being obese is more complicated though – because obesity leads to more obstacles in the workplace, social situations, health, etc – which can all change a person’s outlook and impact how someone experiences things like relationships.
I do sort of believe that for some people, their search for personal self-worth can override any happiness they might feel from other things in their lives. How many arguments stem from just basic insecurity? For example – for someone who has an eating disorder or is fixated on their weight/appearance, they might get more satisfaction from achieving their “perfection” instead. This definitely signals that there is a problem with the amount of emphasis we put on certain things.