Here's the kind of gender equality I'm not happy to see. A recent study led by University of Missouri professor Jennifer Aubrey found that reading "lad mags" can make men feel lousy about their bodies, just as reading Cosmo and Glamour can tank the average woman's self-esteem. But there's a curious twist: Men feel more insecure after viewing images of female models -- the kind magazines like FHM, Maxim and Stuff are full of -- but don't report much of a change in body consciousness after viewing fashion spreads featuring male models.
Apparently, women fret about not being able to look like the female models, but men (straight ones, anyway) just fret about not being able to get them into bed. To test this theory, the researchers broke the men into two groups and showed half of them images of gorgeous women cavorting with regular schlubs. Says Aubrey, "When the men felt that the model in the ad liked average-looking guys, it took the pressure off of them and made them less self-conscious about their own bodies."
I'm guessing that dropping Joe the Model into the shot wouldn't make the average woman feel any less insecure, though. So it seems clear to me that if a large percentage of both men and women feel shitty about themselves while looking at impossibly beautiful female models, yet not at male ones, the best solution is to start saturating our popular culture with images of really, really ridiculously good-looking men, posthaste. Seriously, y'all. Think of the children.
(Via Destra at the Feministing Community site.)