One thing that has always driven me bonkers about television sitcoms is the absolute mismatch of husbands and wives on most of these shows. Show after show you get this fat slovenly guy, who somehow ends up with a hot wife.
But it supposedly all works out because, in the end, he’s lovable at heart.
You look at shows like King of Queens , The George Lopez Show – heck even in cartoons like the Simpsons and Family Guy – you see this dynamic all the time. Black shows are a little better, usually husbands and wives are equally chubby or equally healthy if you look at House of Payne, Reed Between the Lines and even old school shows like Roc or Family Matters. Nevertheless, this odd condundrum about the chubby hubby and the hottie wife has finally been solved by researhers at the University of Tennessee. In a recent study head researcher and doctoral candidate Andrea Meltzer concludes:
“… husbands were more satisfied initially and wives were more satisfied over time to the extent that wives had lower BMIs than their husbands, controlling for depression, income, education, and whether the relationship ended in divorce.”
In layman’s terms that means when you throw out basic issues like mental illness and financial problems, marriages are happier for men and women when the woman is thinner than the husband.
Now I found these results to be both ridiculously obvious and sad at the same time. It simply demonstrates the same thing we see reflected in the asinine sitcoms that Americans consume every night. Men can get fat, and be out of shape and it’s fine: because they are judged on character, financial ability and other skills. Women, on the other hand, are always going to be judged on their looks.
Consequently, no matter how the husband may fall off from their wedding day it’s ultimately the wife that has to keep her waistband tight or things fall apart. Meltzer concludes that in most cases wives are happy when their husbands are happy so if staying in shape keeps him happy, then she’s happy. The fact that when they met he was running marathons for fun and after two years of marriage hubby can’t walk up the stairs without breaking a sweat is clearly less relevant. What’s particularly sad though is the ‘Positive” conclusion drawn from this study.
“This study is important because it demonstrates that women of any size can be happy in their relationships with the right partner. It’s not necessarily striving for thinness per se, but striving to be thinner than their partner,” Meltzer said.
“Thus overweight or obese women (which, statistically, is the majority of women in America) seeking a happy marriage might choose a heavier husband, or else choose an average-weight partner and lose enough weight that they are thinner by comparison.”
Yeah, right. I’ve got news for you Andrea, it doesn’t work that way. Most men, especially White Men, aren’t just looking for women ‘thinner’ than them. They want thin size 4-6 women who are always going to look that way. The African American community is a bit more flexible when it comes to heavier women being considered attractive (and even that has its limits). There is no such thing as plus sized beauty in the White American community. Do they have a Tocarra, Jennifer Hudson or even Lisa Nicole Carson? Nope. Nobody was hollering at Carny Wilson till she lost weight.
So, in the end, the University of Tennesse has just reminded us of what we knew all along. Marriages are dominated by male preferences for beauty and physical attractiveness and women defer to those desires in order to keep a happy home regardless of their needs. Did we really need another scientific study to remind us we live in a sexist and patriarchial society?
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.