Your throwback Aunt Ruth might have told you that to keep a husband happy, a wife must maintain her figure. But Ruth isn't quite right--a perfectly viable option is to just make your husband fatter. New research shows that both spouses are more satisfied when the wife is merely thinner than the husband.
Men care more than women if their partner is skinny, Tom Jacobs writes for Miller-McCune, "possibly because BMI is more strongly correlated with women's physical attractiveness than it is with men's." Women care less about their partner's BMI, so "BMI may affect them only through its affect on men." Which means women are happier because they think their husbands are happier with their dress size.
That's not a huge surprise, Jezebel's Anna North sighs. "I can think of a bunch of depressing, socially-conditioned reasons for this, but one sticks out: men are told that masculinity is all about being big, and so maybe being smaller than their wives harms their self-esteem. Overall, the study seems like yet more proof that our society needs to reexamine our attitudes toward weight, gender, and attractiveness." Marge Simpson would agree.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.