Perceptual errors: why men don’t like skinny models

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The body positive movement is gaining popularity for a reason: American scientists have proven that thin models that appear on shows and magazine covers do not actually seem sexually attractive to men. And women are often mistaken when they think that men do not like them because they are too full.


Studies with different woman

A study by American scientists Sarah N. Johnson and Rene Engeln, published in the journal Gender Roles, showed that thin models, who are increasingly being forced out of the catwalks and covers of fashion magazines by women with curvatures, cause less enthusiasm among men than they assume the women themselves.

For 30 years, researchers and journalists have been claiming that most men do not really like the degree of thinness that is inherent in fashion models and in the name of which other women torture themselves with diets.

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  • In a new study, US authors concluded that women grossly overestimate the degree to which men find skinny girls attractive. 
  • Scientists studied how men and women perceive the appearance of photo models depicted in illustrations in magazines, as well as how, in the opinion of representatives of the opposite sex, the other will evaluate the shape of the model.
  • The first survey involved over 500 college students who rated the size and attractiveness of 13 models from women’s fashion magazines. 
  • The respondents also indicated how, in their opinion, the other sex would rate the models on these parameters. 
  • In the second phase of the experiment, more than 700 US men and women aged 18 to 86, randomly selected from Amazon, performed the same task.

It turned out that both men and women overestimate how ideal their partners seem to be the bodies of models of the opposite sex (both in terms of thinness and attractiveness). This misconception was more pronounced in the case of women, who evaluated how men would react to the bodies of slender girls.

There is a lot of evidence that women are mistaken when they think that men prefer thinner.

While much of the previous research was based on experimental results in which participants were asked to evaluate the silhouettes of female bodies, the authors of the new study took a different approach. They asked respondents to rate images of real women in the media.


In the first experiment, participants were asked to rate 13 images of women from women’s magazines representing different body types. The subjects rated the models’ sizes on a scale from 1 “too thin” to 7 “too fat” and attractiveness on a scale from 1 “extremely unattractive” to 7 “extremely attractive”. Participants were then asked to complete two scales a second time, this time indicating how they thought the models would be rated by members of the opposite sex.

The researchers found that while men and women gave the same ratings to the models, neither was accurate in guessing what the other’s rating would be. Both men and women believed that members of the opposite sex were less likely to rate models as too thin and more likely to find them attractive than they actually were.

  • This effect is called “parallel delusion” and is explained by the fact that men overestimate the degree to which women idealize the bodies of models, and women also overestimate the degree to which men admire thin models.
  • In fact, female respondents were more likely to describe models as “too skinny,” and male respondents gave plus-size models higher ratings of attractiveness than women would have guessed.

The study authors emphasize that publishing such findings will help reduce the negative impact of unhealthy beauty standards on women. In their opinion, it is not enough to tell that the bodies portrayed in the media are unrealistic; it is also necessary to help those who compare their parameters with the model ones to realize that they may overestimate the preferences of other people in relation to these “ideal” bodies.

The authors of the experiment failed to find out which forms are now considered ideal, since the models depicted generally had a thin body type, and not a range of sizes, so it is impossible to draw objective conclusions on this score from the study.


In fact, a lot of people actually choose to choose those women who are not hyper skinny. After all, with such a woman, you can have pleasant sex and hug her, because the body will feel like something soft and warm. The fact is that it works as an anti-stress like a soft cat and it gives a man joy to be near such a girl and it depends not only on her figure, but also on external fats, so choose wisely.

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