Men with Childhood Stress Prefer Women with More Body Fat

GoodTherapy | Men with Childhood Stress Prefer Women with More Body FatAccording to the results of a recent study, men who have experienced childhood maltreatment and stress prefer romantic partners who are heavy rather than thin. Jason M. Fletcher of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Yale School of Public Health in Connecticut chose to extend the research on resource scarcity which suggests that people who have experienced abuse, neglect, or maltreatment are drawn to heavier body types because of the perceived ability of that body type to provide resources.

However, until now, few studies have looked at potential differences between types of childhood stress and their independent impact on body type preference. Additionally, little research has been devoted to the preference of men versus women. Therefore, Fletcher studied male and female teenage participants and evaluated their body type preferences during high school and into early adulthood. He looked at their childhood experiences of stress, abuse, neglect, maltreatment, socioeconomic status, and other factors to arrive at his findings.

The results revealed two distinct and unique patterns. First, men who had a history of neglect, abuse, or maltreatment of any kind tended to be attracted to obese women rather than thin women. The severity of the abuse was directly associated with the increased body mass index (BMI) of the women men chose as partners. This result supports existing research in this area.

However, in contrast to some of the literature on this topic, the women with abuse or neglect histories were more likely to be romantically attracted to thin men rather than heavy or obese men. Fletcher believes that for many women, the visible appearance of strength, as exhibited by a chest-waist ratio, may be a better indicator of resource availability than BMI alone.

“Overall these results in part confirm previous work on body type preference,” said Fletcher, “But also suggest opportunities for future research.” One area of research that could further strengthen our understanding of the neglect-partner preference association is to focus on sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse independently and determine what influence, if any, the body type of the perpetrator has on survivors’ mate preferences.

Fletcher, J.M., Tefft, N. (2013). The long-term effects of stress on partner weight characteristics. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66353. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066353

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  • Dustin

    August 7th, 2013 at 4:18 AM

    Think that there is this perception that those with more body fat could be more nurturing in some way? Could be this primal thing that goes back to fertility and motherhood and all that kind of stuff. Not all necesarily true but kind of hard to sometimes ignore those evolutionary instincts

  • Chucky_Dee

    August 7th, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    So Ya;e refers to them as “Women with More Body Fat”, and not “Women with Non-Consensual Food Storage” ? I guess re-defining the language depends on who you’re protecting…

  • brenda lee

    August 7th, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Well color the fat girls lucky, because now not only do we have to carry around our own extra weight but then we are gonna have the emotional baggage of our men’s past too! :/

  • G Brandle

    August 7th, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Praise the lord! I’m just glad SOMEBODY would find me attractive! :0)

  • Diago

    August 7th, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    I find this absolutely fascinating. I am not sure if I buy that the reason these guys are attracted to larger women is because they think the women can provide resources. That seems a little primal to me. I think it would be a more modern reason-like maybe they feel that large women will be more accepting of their flaws since they obviously don’t hold being perfect as the be all and end all. Or, maybe it’s because larger women are often viewed as being out of control with their eating and therefore out of control period. If someone has been abused or neglected, it would make sense that they would want to be in control in a relationship so the abuse or neglect doesn’t happen again.

  • Lorenzo

    July 13th, 2023 at 3:11 AM

    Diago, many aspects of our brain’s behavior are driven by primal instincts rather than modern reasons, although there are a few exceptions.

  • linda

    August 7th, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    it all just seems like one big stereotype to me

    the little bitty guy chases the big woman

    or the big woman chases the little bitty guy

    why can’t we just see each other as people and not sizes

  • Loren T

    August 4th, 2018 at 3:02 PM

    Im a big guy who has always been STRONLY attracted to BBWs (Big Beutiful Women). I has akways thought that it was simply my desire for a oattener who was physically opposite of my mother who was both physically violent and extreamly emotionally neglectful.

  • patsy j

    August 7th, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Very interesting study to read. I wonder if anyone has done a study where they actually ask the guys why they are attracted to the bigger women.

  • Margie

    August 8th, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    Ladies think about this- is your man constantly sabotaging your weight loss efforts?
    That happens you know
    Then maybe it’s not what you are doing but his past that is keeping him stuck in wanting you to be heavy
    Just a little something to think about

  • Allen

    October 28th, 2022 at 4:19 PM

    I don’t know if there is any deep dark secret reason I like curvier women. I just do. I don’t know why it’s a big deal (lid for every pot, right?) I don’t want to change anyone, just want to live my best life

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