Hot Women Make Men Feel Bad
I just read a little write-up about some research on the effects of looking at sexy images of women in men's magazines like Maxim, FHM, and Stuff. People have known for a long time that women feel worse about their own bodies when surrounded by air-brushed women in bikinis who work out 3 hours a day. The article presented a series of studies indicating that men too feel worse about their own bodies after viewing these things. The guess, and this is the guess part, not a finding, is that men feel a need to look a certain way to ever be able to get women like those in the magazines.
This makes some sense, and it matches well with the common observation that men looking to actively date often look after themselves physically more at those times. There was some article I saw recently on signs of men who are cheating or hoping to cheat in a marriage where one sign is that he starts working out, dressing up, etc., when he never did before. (In response, I've been getting fat and wearing crappy outfits lately just so N doesn't worry about me. I'm sure she's pleased about this.) This all seems very natural. However, the most interesting finding reported was this:
"Men who looked at sexualized women reported being less likely to ask a woman out on a date or to interact with her."
This then is not quite the same as getting healthy to attract someone. Instead, many men just get depressed that they will never live up to such a standard and drop out of the relationship game instead.
A related study compared the undergrad men looking at women in bikinis with men seeing images of fit guys in great clothes and such. Men didn't get depressed about their own bodies from looking at men who were in a lot better shape than themselves, but again, they did when they checked out the lingerie spreads. This would be a different pattern from women, many of whom do get body-image issues from seeing pictures of women.