There is nothing more soul-sucking, gut-wrenching, and day-ruining than swimsuit shopping. It doesn’t matter what size or shape you are–swimsuit shopping is the absolute worst. And now scientists have actually proven that simply imagining trying on a swimsuit is profoundly damaging and ego crushing.
Australian psychologist Marika Tiggemann just published a new study in the journal Sex Roles (via LiveScience), in which she and her colleagues asked 102 female undergrads to imagine four different scenarios:
•Wearing a bathing suit in a dressing room
•Wearing a bathing suit while walking on a beach
•Wearing jeans and a sweater in a dressing room
•Wearing jeans and a sweater while walking on a beach
The students then filled out questionnaires about their moods, feelings about their bodies, and feelings about self-objectification. (The study authors described self-objectification as having “a variety of negative consequences—-always worrying about how you look, shame about the body, and [it] is linked to eating disorders and depression.” So self-objectification is a bad thing.)
Now, it’s probably not surprising to learn that women were more stressed out when they thought about wearing the swimsuit than when they thought about the jeans. But here’s the surprising part: Strutting your Brazilian cut bikini on a beach in front of everyone is actually less stressful than standing alone under the harsh lights of a dressing room in a swimsuit. Imagining the dressing room scenario made the women in the study more likely to self-objectify.
What this means is that we’re our own harshest critics–it’s an internal process. Standing alone in front of a mirror doing nothing but picking apart your appearance in that tankini is what effs with our psyches.
The authors’ advice? Avoid mirrors and comparisons with others. Um, OK. Maybe we’ll just move to a colder climate where we can wear sweaters and jeans year round.