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Imagining Trying on Swimsuits Stresses Women Out

Update Date: Apr 24, 2012 09:15 PM EDT

For women even just imagining trying on swimsuits can cause a bad mood, according to a new study. 

It increases feelings of self-objectification, which basically reduces women to thinking they're only being evaluated as objects.

"Self-objectification has a variety of negative consequences - always worrying about how you look, shame about the body, and [it] is linked to eating disorders and depression," the lead researcher Marika Tiggemann, a psychologist at Flinders University in Australia, told LiveScience.

In an attempt to test the impact of clothing on self-objectification, the researchers had one hundred and two female undergraduates imagine themselves in four scenarios - wearing a swimsuit in a dressing room, wearing a swimsuit while walking down a beach, and wearing jeans and a sweater in similar settings. They then filled out questionnaires about mood, feelings about the body and self-objectification.

Unsurprisingly, it was more stressful imagining wearing a swimsuit than jeans and a sweater.

What is more interesting was that women were more stressted out when they imagined wearing a swimwuit in a dressing room than on a beach where they might expect people would judge their bodies.

That result shows how much self-objectification is truly an internal process.

"The physical presence of observers is clearly not necessary," authors was quoted as saying by LiveScience. "More particularly, the dressing room of a clothing store contains a number of potentially objectifying features: (often several) mirrors, bright lighting, and the virtual demand that women engage in close evaluation of their body in evaluating how the clothes appear and fit."

The study is published in the journal Sex Roles. 

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