Before I go anywhere with this post, is the term “chubby chaser” offensive? If it is, you have my apologies, but I’m from Generation Y, and I think we view “chubby chaser” as something of a technical term for a person of any gender or sexual leaning who romantically prefers individuals with some extra meat on his or her bones. Y’know: thick, bootylicious, more to love, junk in the trunk…don’t act like you’re not familiar with these concepts.
Now that we’re all on the same page, what if I told you that recent research suggests that some chubby chasers (i.e. EVERY RAPPER EVER) might just be stressed out? That is, what if psychological stress leads one to chase the chubby? Let’s explore this hypothesis further in today’s post.
So, if I don’t state upfront that women of all sizes are beautiful (and they are), then the people of the Internets will yell at me. That aside – let’s be real. As a woman, I can tell you that there’s a not-so-subtle message in society that goes something like this:
Feel free to get into some kind of deep philosophical debate in the comments section about your own convictions and opinions on this matter, but I basically just called it like it is.
Women should either be thin but not too thin, or thick but not too thick. For the sake of this post, however, let’s focus on the thick ones. Women like Kim Kadashian and Beyoncé Knowles have done much to put “thick” women on a bit of a pedestal. The field of rap music would appear to concur:
With the exception of Drake, whose lyrics aren’t always what I would call self-explanatory, these rappers are all obviously concurring that bigger is better when it comes to women’s bodies.
Now, because I spin this as a science blog, let’s talk about science: what factors are influencing whether men (or women) go for heroin chic or pleasingly plump? This is quite the burning question in today’s society and, lucky for us, researchers from London published the results of their experiments on this very matter last month.
Eighty-one White British heterosexual males ranging from ages 18 to 42 were divided into two groups: Group One contained 41 men who would undergo a stressful experience, and Group Two contained 40 men who would not experience stress. And what exactly was the “stress” experience? It went like this:
You walk into a room where four people are sitting at a table with tape recorders and video cameras. Then you stand in front of them at a microphone and try to give a speech off the top of your head for five agonizingly long minutes, hoping to convince them that they should hire you for some fictional job. And, just in case this type of hideous task happens to be your thing, you have to stay up there at the mic and try to subtract 13 from 1022 over and over again (i.e. 1022, 1009, 996, 983…) as fast and as accurately as possible. I’m not making this up, kids; unrehearsed public speaking and mental math — if that doesn’t stress you out then I’d like to know what does.
Oh, and in the mean time, the Group Two guys were just sitting quietly and unknowingly while the Group One guys were being tortured. Unfair.
After all this stressing or not-stressing, all men in the study were told to look at women with body types covering everything in the range from emaciated to obese. The men had to rate the ideal body, and the thinnest and largest bodies that they would still consider physically attractive. Thus, the men established an “attractiveness range.”
The results were pretty straightforward: men who had been stressed gave significantly higher ratings to normal and overweight women’s figures, chose a significantly heavier women’s frame as their “ideal,” and reported a significantly wider attractiveness range, almost exclusively due to the inclusion of larger women. Awesome!
If I had to wave my hands around and explain this, I’d say: the male mind, being a product of evolution, knows that when things get tough, one needs a female who can handle the stresses of the environment. That is, women who have more fat deposits and can go longer with scarce food stores, women who are more physically apt to fight off bears and whatnot, women whose bodies are more likely to carry a fetus to term when the metaphorical, ecological s–t hits the fan.
I’m NOT saying that skinny women have any less inherent value than women of other sizes. Not even close. I’m just telling you the first thing that comes to my mind when I see an experiment that shows stressed guys preferring bigger girls. I’m not a medical doctor or a psychologist or anything beyond an overly flippant blogger
and an MIT/Harvard trained biologist, ooooh snap.
- A lot of rappers are probably really stressed out from all the gun violence and drug dealings so evident in their lyrics, inclining them to lust after women of the thicker type.
- Rosie O’Donnell could probably take down a bear before Lindsay Lohan could.
- If you ask your man whether you look fat in your outfit and he says “no,” he’s either being honest with you, lying to your face, or so stressed out at work that he sees your fatness as an evolutionarily sweet deal.
Oh! And did you like what you read here today? Then click around, especially on those social media buttons! Over to the right, look, along the side of the page — there are buttons to get to us on Facebook or Twitter, or to grab our RSS feed. At the bottom of this post you can share it, like it, tweet it, dig it — so many options! Heck, go crazy, buy something from the online store! Use the Donate button in the sidebar and have a blast! Remember, I’m just a lowly graduate student who is about to go have a bag of popcorn for breakfast+lunch and who chooses to skip work to make blog posts just for the pure love and enjoyment of it. And for the entertainment and edification of my dear, dear readers.
We at TryNerdy thank you!
P.S. That “we” is totally just for effect. There is no “we,” unless “we” is me and my three cats. Nothing like being painfully honest with your readership…love ya!
Swami V, & Tovée MJ (2012). The Impact of Psychological Stress on Men’s Judgements of Female Body Size. PloS one, 7 (8) PMID: 22905153