Why Do Women Cringe At The Thought Of Trying On Swimsuits?
April 27, 2012

Why Do Women Cringe At The Thought Of Trying On Swimsuits?

Connie K. Ho for RedOrbit.com

Swimsuit season may not entirely be starting yet, but women all over the world are feeling the effects of it. It is intimidating for any girl to wear a bathing suit in public, but even more so in private dressing rooms. Dressing rooms can be cramped with bad lighting, making females unknowingly put more pressure on themselves through self-scrutiny. This idea of self-reflection through a variety of forms of clothing, from swimsuits to jeans and a sweater, was recently highlighted in an experiment by psychologists at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.

The study, which will be published in the May issue of the journal Sex Roles, focuses on the idea of “self-objectification.”

Authors Marika Tiggemann and Rachel Andrew pooled survey responses from 102 undergraduate women, of which 70 percent were considered normal weight but who thought of themselves to be a little overweight. Four scenarios were given to the students to imagine. In one, the girl was to imagine that she was trying on a swimsuit in a dressing room. In another, the girl was to imagine herself wearing the swimsuit outdoors. The last two scenarios were similar except for the fact that the girl was to imagine herself wearing a pair of jeans and a sweater instead of a swimsuit. After the scenarios, the participants reflected on the activity through questionnaires. Tiggemann better understood the concept of self-objectification following the project.

"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," researcher Tiggemann expressed to LiveScience.

In most instances, the swimsuit in the dressing room was the most hated scenario for the students and showed the researchers that self-objectification was a mental process more than anything.

"We wear and choose clothes every day“¦ clothes are controllable aspects of our appearance, in a way that body size and shape are not,” Tiggemann also said to the Times of India.

Through the project, the researchers proposed a few recommendations for store owners. They asked businesses to consider not having dimly lit rooms or not “displaying mannequins and posters of only very thin women or making comments on women´s size.” In a conversation with KVUE, swimsuit designer Pamela Levenson echoes some of these sentiments, especially the one regarding dressing rooms.

“One of my rules when I opened [my] Popina´s stores was no three way mirrors, no fluorescent lighting because that isn´t the way it´s going to be at the beach,” stated Levenson.

Levinson´s client also noted her dislike of dressing rooms in the KVUE article.

“It casts shadows and you can see all the imperfections and bulges,” described customer Temira Wagenfeld.

Other psychologists believe that, apart from environmental changes, there should also be positive, affirmative thinking free flowing in the clothing shop.

“There are a lot of women who have a very hard time looking at themselves in a mirror at all, whether they have traditionally labeled figure flaws or not,” remarked Rosenberg in an interview with ABC News.

With these insecurities note, researcher Tiggemann believes it´s important to take part in activities that celebrate the overall form rather than the body, such as sailing, sports, and yoga.

Image Credit olly / Shutterstock