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Being Reminded of Weight Makes Curvy People Overspend

The smallest details around you could influence the way you shop. A new study has found that after seeing a thin, human-like shape (like a water bottle), many shoppers are more likely to overspend.

Shopping while curvy can be expensive. (Photo: Getty Images)

The study called Costly Curves, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, used five different tests to see how people shop after viewing thin versus wide shapes that mirrored the human form. They collected the BMI of each participant and found that high-BMI — read: curvier — consumers make indulgent spending choices after seeing a thin, human-like shape. One of the studies proved that “after seeing thin (versus wide) shapes, high-BMI participants are drawn toward an indulgent lifestyle,” and another found that even when they are given a less-expensive option, “high-BMI consumers purchase a more expensive product after seeing a thin (versus wide) shape.”

Basically, this means that if you are heavier and see something that makes you think of a thin figure — like a water bottle or maybe even a mannequin — you might reach for that higher-priced item right after.

But why is that? “Those consumers who are thin are thought to be better at controlling their spending and achieving financial success,” study author Marisabel Romero told Yahoo Beauty. “This link is often reinforced in the media, which allows consumers to easily recall positive financial associations when they encounter subtle shape reminders in the environment resembling the thin human form, such as product packages.”

Well, that must be nice and relaxing for already thin people. But not for those with more voluptuous figures. “Across five experiments, we found that consumers with a high body mass index were more susceptible to thin-shape reminders,” said Romero. Meaning, thinner people were less likely to notice or be affected by the thin objects in front of them. “Because high-BMI consumers feel dissimilar to a thin body type, seeing a thin shape made them feel less capable of managing their finances, leading to indulgent choices,” Romero explained. In other words, mere reminders of the thin ideal can cause deflated self-evaluations amongst overweight people. And what do we do when we feel crappy? Indulge. “A decreased belief in capability leads to lower motivation to self-control,” said Romero. These people may be associating the thin shapes with success and financial prowess, and since they cannot identify with the shape, it causes them to feel the opposite about themselves. And then they act out those behaviors. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy in action.

So, unless you’re of model-proportions (which not many people are), look away next time you spot water bottles or anything thin and body-like while shopping. Unless you need a good excuse to indulge.

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