A study that didn't need to exist in the first place had results that will surprise no one, because that's the way things work these days. The study, published in PeerJ and titled "The relationship of female physical attractiveness to body fatness," aimed to examine exactly what the title suggests — how physically attractive women are to men (because heteronormativity) based on their "body fatness." The abstract to the study itself holds some real gems about the relationship between health and aesthetic, like this funny little quote, "Aspects of the female body may be attractive because they signal evolutionary fitness. Greater body fatness might reflect greater potential to survive famines, but individuals carrying larger fat stores may have poor health and lower fertility in non-famine conditions." That sounds less like something out of a scientific paper than something someone's insensitive grandmother would tell them, if she were strangely into Darwinism.

Red Online wrote about the study, and the article headline was provocative if not triggering. It reads, "‘Men Still Prefer Women To Be Young And Skinny’, Says New Study" noting that this preference has existed for a while and the study wasn't of urgent need — but since it's been done, let's dissect the study and the article. Researchers conducting the study used a sample size of 1,327 men from only 10 countries. While that sample size is fairly decent, surveying men from only 10 countries can hardly be seen as a comprehensive guide to what men of today really think about women. The participants were all shown 21 sample images of women with varying BMIs and asked to rate the attractiveness of their bodies. This is a bad and demeaning practice. BMI has been debunked as an indicator for health, and the procedure they chose to use reinforces a toxic paradigm we see so often today — rating women based on their attractiveness and nothing else, in a system where aesthetic is the only measure of worth. Though this is arguably the point of the study, normalization of things like this is also the reason we're in this mess.

Red Online writes of the study, "The most popular card depicted a female body with a BMI of 19, which is borderline underweight and associated with youth." Okay, so not only do men apparently prefer women thinner and younger, they also prefer women who are borderline underweight? This is another toxic idea to perpetuate, and it's here that we have a responsibility to talk about the immense pressure studies like this (and the way we talk about them) puts on women.

Writing about these findings as though they're the true window into what men really want is dangerous, especially given that these specific findings literally tell us we'll be more desirable if we're underweight or close to it (and if we somehow get younger). We already know more or less what society thinks men like because the "ideal woman" is plastered all over the place, and we fight those beauty standards every day by asking for more diversity and inclusion in the fashion and beauty realms. However, even super models can't escape comparisons from each other, as websites ask, "Which Hadid sister wears a bikini better?"

The pressure comes from everywhere — it's not even just coming from men we may or may not hope to be in relationships with (eye roll). Women are constantly reminded of ridiculous standards, even (and sometimes especially) in Hollywood. Actress Jamie Denbo, 47, was recently told she was "too old" to play the wife of a 57-year-old actor in an upcoming project. Jennifer Lawrence was recently told by Sharon Tate's own sister that she wasn't pretty enough to play Tate for an upcoming project, as well.

While it's possible that men form their preferences based on societal cues and they're just pawns in the same game that hurts us, as well, it doesn't mean we need to hear any more about it. In fact, we should keep pushing for more diversity and representation — perhaps, as a byproduct, preferences will change. In the meantime, forget the studies. The body you have is great, just the way it is.

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