Handbags could be sign of insecurity

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 19/04/2012
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FAIRFAX NZ
PERSONAL BAGGAGE: Owning lots of handbags might say more about you than you think.

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Women who feel threatened by images of females in the media own more shoes and handbags but shun trousers, new research shows.

The research, being led by Canterbury University PhD student Jessica Boyce, suggested shoes and handbags appealed because they increased physical attractiveness without drawing attention to the figure. But trousers did draw attention to the figure and were therefore avoided.

The findings are based on a study of 286 female students from Canterbury University and 922 from Alberta University in Canada.

It showed women who were generally insecure, irrespective of the images they saw in the media, tended not to accessorise, because this would draw attention to themselves.

"We suspect that they want to dress anonymously, whereas those who are insecure because of the media like buying shoes to affirm their attractiveness," Boyce said.

She said the fascination with shoes could be because shoes were attractive or because, as with high-heels, they increased height and created an appearance of slenderness.

She was surprised the same sentiments came across so strongly in the two studies, despite them being carried out in different countries.

She believed the trend could be even stronger among all women because the study was focused on students.

The study was a small part of Boyce's PhD in health psychology, which looked at the media's effect on female body image and dieting.

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