But just in case you weren’t already convinced that trying on swimsuits is the worst, a recent study in the May issue of the journal Sex Roles, proves it. The study is based off of 102 female undergraduates’ answers to a survey regarding imagining themselves in different clothing, in different settings. The four scenarios included: trying on a swimsuit in a dressing room, wearing a swimsuit while walking down a beach, trying on jeans and a sweater in a dressing room, and wearing jeans and a sweater while walking down a beach.
The women’s answers were pretty standard: imagining wearing a swimsuit made women feel worse about their bodies than imagining wearing jeans and a sweater. Wearing a swimsuit in a dressing room, however, made women feel even worse about themselves, proving that self-objectification is an internal process and more damaging than public scenarios.
Although self-objectification is a personality trait that makes some women more likely to objectify themselves than others, there are certain situations, like trying on swimsuits, which can increase the feelings of poor body image, no matter what. Aside from the terribly harsh and bright lighting and numerous mirrors, the most harmful aspect of trying on swimsuits (or clothing in general) in stores is the amount of scrutiny and evaluation it permits (i.e., making sure everything fits correctly).
While self-objectification is almost impossible to prevent, it’s easier to handle if you don’t constantly compare your body to others’ and avoid scrutinizing your appearance in the mirror whenever faced with your own reflection – pay attention to the qualities of your body you like the most. Focusing on activities that emphasize the function of the body rather than the appearance, such as yoga, also helps put self-objectification on the backburner.