I’ll be the first to admit it: I am sort of a sucker for consumer-friendly psychology magazines. Publications like Psychology Today are full of articles I either enjoy reading or using as fire kindling. Or, when I am really irritated by the content, writing articles on the topic. Like this one.
The article, published in Psychology Today, is titled “Ahead of the Curves” and the brilliant tagline? “Men know something vital about women’s body shapes that women don’t. Plus: How big hips make wise women.”
It is six pages long and features illustrations of women who look more like playmates than the women who have the aforementioned “big hips” and are “wise” because of it. One of the illustrations boasts a sexy blonde wearing a pastel-pretty bra and tight briefs. She is pursing her red lips — ready to kiss! She is rather revolting and her hips, well, they certainly are not wise.
That alone is irritating but this is the part that really makes me question my taste in literature: This lengthy article is written by two men.
Their respective names and impressive education are listed in very small font. I wondered: How can these two men possibly educate and enlighten women on their sex appeal and bodies? Well, they certainly gave it a good shot. But not good enough.
The first paragraph states that “American males, it has been calculated, spend some $3 billion a year to gaze at women with hourglass figures, those whose small waists blossom into sinuously curvy hips.”
My first thought? Where does this “calculation” come from? Furthermore, how does gazing at women connect to “$3 billion a year?” They don’t explain this. Maybe men take time off work to gawk at women? Unlikely.
I have to give credit where credit is due: They do include research done by the late Deborah Sing — 20 years ago. This is the only mention of a female contribution to the piece and does not extend past one measly paragraph which tells the eager reader: “. . .Men all around the world. . .Prefer a similar shape.”
We are then told that when men view a curvy woman their brains respond in a similar fashion to cocaine and heroin. Hmm. That’s a strange statement with no research provided to the reader.
Even so, the following paragraph takes the cake:
Even a thin woman carries an astonishing amount of fat in her legs and hips–about a third of her body weight. Men everywhere admire the fat located here. . .Only bears ready to hibernate, penguins facing a sunless winter without food, or whales swimming in the arctic waters have fat percentages that approach those in normal, healthy, trim young women.
Well, that’s lovely! Female readers have now been compared to bears, penguins and whales. Furthermore, the word “astonishing” used in relation to our apparent “fat” probably does not make us smile. I am currently grimacing.
For diversity’s sake (or perhaps the editor was concerned about backlash from readers) a few paragraphs are devoted to explaining that American women are in dire need of more omega-3s.
Unfortunately, I believe more women have read this article than men. The pages are laced with bright pink script. I kid you not. Literature like this confuses both genders and, in my humble and currently sarcastic opinion, the size of my hips does not make me “wise.” And neither did reading this article.
Lassek, W. & Gaulin, S. (2012, August). Ahead of the curves. Psychology Today, 45(4), 74-77.