And so today, as I was trolling for intelligent life out here in cyberspace, I came across a few quick hits that had me scratching my head when I tried to connect the dots.
First was a great piece in Newsweek by Jessica Bennett, reviewing a new book on sex by neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam. Their book, “A Billion Wicked Thoughts,” bills itself as the “world’s largest experiment” on what turns people on. Their data? A billion anonymous web searches. You can guess the sites. Writes Bennett:
But while Ogas’s fellow doctoral students were busy writing computer code, he and his buddy Sai Gaddam simply couldn’t stop talking about sex. Specifically, how the brain decides what turns us on. “Nobody in our field had taken a shot at sexual desire—and most of our colleagues thought we were insane to do it,” Ogas says. “But the same neural principles that apply to our higher cognitive functions apply to sexual behavior, too.”
Bennett culled a few fun stats from the book and here’s the one that got me thinking: Men are much more likely to ogle overweight – than underweight — women. By a ratio of three to one.
Hmmm, right? And then I came across this: A piece on Gawker that linked to a Today show segment on dress size confusion that included an interview with More editor Lesley Jane Seymour, who said that fashion editors sometimes have to cut the sizes out of clothes before fashion shoots to protect the fragile egos of celebrities.
And finally, we would be remiss without a mention of our newest princess-to-be, yes? Kate has been the subject of many a link, not the least of which are those that discuss her weight. Or lack of same. And today I found a discussion on the Harvard Health Letter that discussed the theories that have bounced around to explain why, at 5 foot 10, Kate is suddenly down to 120 lbs. Among them: stress, the controversial Dukan diet (think Atkins plus oat bran) — or what some have termed brideorexia. Let’s check:
Who doesn’t want to look good for their wedding, royal or common—and these days, looking good almost always means looking thinner. It’s been noted that in many couples’ lives, no event is as photographed as their wedding. (This may be true for Will and Kate, although unlike the rest of us, they’ve a coronation to look forward to.)
I don’t know about the UK, but on this side of the pond people started turning the desire of brides to look good and lose weight into businesses several years ago. Now there are bridal boot camps, bridal workouts, bridal diet plans, and reality shows based on brides-to-be slimming down to get ready for the big day. The term “brideorexia” was coined to denote the most extreme (and frequently unhealthy) of these wedding-related weight-loss efforts.
The post includes an interview with a researcher who actually studied brideorexia and found that the brides who took pre-wedding dieting to the extreme were the exception (25 percent) rather than the rule, but still, the overall message is this, whether or not you happen to be a princess in waiting: To look good is to look thin.
Unless, of course, you ask men. Interesting conundrum, is it not? So trying my best to add it all up, I recalled one of Shannon’s posts from a while ago that started thus:
So, one night last week I was having a glass of wine with a friend–and wound up with a good belly laugh at mankind’s expense. I’ll spare you the exact details of how it came up, but at one point, said friend described to me a cartoon she’d recently seen. In one frame, a pretty woman of an average build looks into the mirror in horror; her mirror image is heavier, uglier, and facial-hairier than her real self. The next frame shows a balding, beer-bellied man smiling happily as he gazes upon his reflection, which features a chiseled physique, and a full head of hair. We got a good laugh out of that, but it was one of those laughs that wound down to an OhMyGod, it’s true! And then, a far less giggly: Is the joke on us?
And maybe, in fact, it is. Except, of course, that the joke really isn’t funny. While all this weight stuff may seem silly, it’s a good measure of how hard we are on ourselves. And so, we have to wonder: what would it take to tip the scales in the other direction?