Women are HARD-WIRED to Hate Their Bodies | INFJ Forum

Women are HARD-WIRED to Hate Their Bodies


Community Member
Aug 20, 2009
So I get emails from iVillage about health and fitness.
Because I'd like to believe that someday I'll take their advice and go to the gym.
But I got an email the other day that made me want to break someone's face. They sent me this article:


And this is the angry letter I wrote them:

I receive emails from iVillage about health, and usually am happy to read the information sent to me. However, recently I received an email that elicited many emotions, but none of them were happiness.
I am writing you in reference to the article "Are Women Wired to Hate Our Bodies" by Leslie Goldman. I am going to ignore the grammatical issues and focus solely on the immense issues of content. I ask that you fully read what I have wrote, because this article is a major problem, and I expect something to be done about it.
Genetics are not the cause of women being more obsessive over body issues than men, and it is irresponsible and idiotic to claim so, as Goldman tries to do in this article.
Just because a study shows that women have more emotional response to thinking about being considered fat than men do does NOT mean that genetics is the cause of that: claiming so is biological essentialism. The thing to keep in mind here is the Third Variable Effect: that men and women's different amount of body image problems are not due to their gender, but to a third variable, which is how a society treats men and women and how gender and body image is constructed within a culture. Also, in the U.S., while the most common body image issue for women is being overweight, for men it is being underweight and lacking muscle. So this study was only showing that women are more upset over being considered fat than men, not that women have body image issues and men do not.
The author cites brain activity scans from the studies and seems to believe that this is proof of genetic hardwiring, but any simple research into the subject would tell one that the brain is wired through learning and socialization, not just biology.
If genetics really caused women to hate fat and loathe their bodies then all women across the entire world and throughout all time would have the same body issues and ideas of beauty, but this is not true. In the span of human history a thin ideal for women like the one we have now in Western culture is a very recent phenomenon. These studies were only testing people in the United States, so they automatically cannot be generalized to "all people". Because these studies did not consider a global perspective, they cannot be claiming a genetic gender-based cause.
The study done at Arizona State University, where I go to school, is very simply defined here and incorrect conclusions are drawn from it. The study did show that plus-size models make women feel worse about themselves, but not because looking at "fat" women make them feel bad about themselves, it's more complicated than that. Models who are considered "plus-size" are still thinner than average women and are beautiful and desirable, but are labeled as bigger than average and not thin enough to be considered regular models. Women see these models and see that they are not even as thin or beautiful as the women who are representing fat women, so they feel worse about themselves. (Only 5% of women are born with the ability to achieve a fashion model body, and that does not mean that type of body will come naturally for them, they'll still have to work at it.) (Most probably, plus-size models do more trouble than good, they serve to act as a deviation from the norm in this mal-constructed view in which skinny models are normal and plus-size models are the deviation, even though they are all abnormally thin.)
Also, using Heidi Montag as an example of all women's "genetic predisposition for bodily self-loathing" is not only misguided but also extremely insulting. Heidi's problem is obviously based partly in cultural constructions of beauty but also in her own mental illness. The generalization of Heidi's issues to all women, along with this entire article, is akin to saying that all women are naturally mentally ill.
The short story by L. Timmel Duchamp, called "Transcendence" is extremely relevant to this: http://ltimmel.home.mindspring.com/food.html
Goldman's one line that points out that the researcher says that the cause is probably not biological but instead social is not enough to make up for the conclusions she is trying to draw in this article.
Most differences between men and women are socialized and not biologically-based, and body image and issues with being overweight are not an exception. There is plenty of scholarship and study on this that backs this up, and it has been widely accepted for many, MANY years now.
Leslie Goldman should not be allowed to publish any further articles until she does real research into the areas she is covering. This article is incredibly infuriating, and it makes me call into question how much research you have your authors do or how much, if any, fact-checking you do before you post their articles and send this information out to people. If you do not do something about this, you should know that I will. I would appreciate if you would send the points I made to Leslie Goldman, as she clearly does not know these things.
If we, as women and as people as a whole, are going to work towards healthier living and healthier lives, physically, emotionally, and mentally, than factual information is vital. I refuse to buy in to Leslie Goldman's fantasy, wherein women are all victims of their genetics causing them to hate themselves. Doing so removes blame from where it really belongs, and if we do not recognize what/who the real culprits are then we cannot make any positive change.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you on what you are going to do about this error.

What do you guys think?? (BTW you should read the short story "Transcendence" that I linked, it's great, and we can discuss that too!)

If you agree with me, please help me out and send them a letter of complaint!

I sent my letter to:
Because that is the email I got when I clicked "Report an error" under the article, so hopefully that's the right person to complain to.
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Well done. I hope Goldman responds to you.
I couldn't have said it any of that better myself from the sounds of it, although the link now appears to be broken... (hahaha).
I'm not not even going to comment beyond this as its clear this is a landmine of a topic.

Nice job on the letter. Even if I take issues with it.
Well, it seems the article is down now. Too bad, I wanted a glance. It's a shame so many people actually believe these pseudo-scientific studies.
HA! They took it down??? LUCKILY I SAVED IT JUST IN CASE!!!

New research shows even thin, happy women fear being called "fat"

According to this fascinating new study, I’m afraid the answer may be yes.
Brigham Young University researchers conducted an experiment with relatively thin, fit women and men, judged to be seemingly free from distorted body image. That is, until the experts spied their brain activity via MRI technology. When the women were shown photos of overweight women and asked, "How would you feel if somebody said you looked like that?"”, their medial prefrontal cortex - the brain's self-reflection center – lit up in a way similar to (but not as severe as) it does in diagnosed anorexic and bulimic women. Brain activity in this area suggests extreme unhappiness or even self-loathing.
"These women have no history of eating disorders and project an attitude that they don't care about body image," said Mark Allen, a BYU neuroscientist who led the study. "Yet under the surface is an anxiety about getting fat and the centrality of body image to self…Although these women's brain activity doesn't look like full-blown eating disorders, they are much closer to it than men are."
In fact, when the male control group was presented with pics of heavy men, there was no significant change in brain activity.
What does this evidence tell us? That body hatred is the norm? Bulimia is the new black – everyone looks thinner and prettier in it? Basically, even the precious few women among us who actually embrace their bodies and don’t spend hours of their days obsessing over calories and fat bulges can’t escape the biological destiny of self-loathing. Can no one escape the loaded gun of genetics and environment? It appears that the trigger gets pulled whether we like it or not.
It would be interesting to see what these study results mean for the recent boom in plus-sized models. If female consumers’ default reaction, when looking at an overweight woman, is to feel badly about themselves, does that make us more or less likely to purchase the lingerie being modeled, more or less likely to pay attention to the message being delivered? This recent Arizona State University study showed that while exposure to models of any size made plus-sized consumers feel badly, seeing images of plus-sized models specifically made normal-weight women feel like garbage.
Allen did point out that the differences observed between the genders is likely not attributable to biological differences, but rather symptomatic of the extraordinary social pressure felt by women to be thin.
When I read that last line, my mind flashed to the premiere of The Hills on MTV last night, a show I am not proud to admit I purposefully tuned into. You don’t need to be a reality TV junkie to know who Heidi Montag is – her extreme plastic surgery has been dissected and displayed (much at her request) all over the media. In last night’s episode, Montag revealed her new face and body to her mother for the first time in an intense and very real conversation. Her mom, Darlene, cried upon greeting her now-alien daughter, and at one point asked, as bluntly but compassionately as possible, if her daughter’s goal was to look like Barbie. Heidi smiled – as much as she could smile, considering her jaw was still locked from surgery and her face was swollen and Botoxed – and replied, “I do want to look like Barbie.”
I wonder what her medial prefrontal cortex looks like.

Do you think women are hard-wired to hate their bodies? Chime in below!


Whenever someone claims certain behavior is "hard-wired" - a kittie dies. :<

Heroic Rawry Crabs <3
And men are hardwired to love their bodies!


"I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt!"
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