Study: Some Changing Rooms 'Overwhelming' for Women Shoppers

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A new study gives valuable insight into the minds of female shopaholics.

While shopping, a woman's perception of her body is influenced by the position and size of shop mirrors, as well as the size and color of shop changing rooms.

So says Rachel Colls, a geographer at the University of Liverpool in England.

Previous studies investigating women's relationships with their bodies found that diets and shopping for clothes can negatively affect a women's emotional health.

Colls' research suggests that women counteract this by being super aware of their shopping environments and preferring to shop in places where they are made to feel comfortable about their bodies.

Mirror, mirror on the ... floor?

One finding from Colls' study suggest that a high number of mirrors on shop floors make women feel uncomfortable. Mirror images reflect not only the body in its present form, but it also reminds women of what they looked like in the past and is a sign of what they will look like in the future.

"This can be overwhelming," Colls said. "But many women tackle this problem by addressing body parts rather than the whole body at once, making any problems look smaller."

For the same reason, the use of "skinny mirrors" that make the body look slimmer are a big hit with women shoppers.

Another area of concern for women shoppers is the changing room. Small changing rooms attached to the main shop floor tended to make women more self conscious about their bodies.

Change needed

In cramped changing rooms, women often can't help but compare their bodies to those of other women.

Also, in changing rooms where male partners are required to wait outside, women have to leave the comfort of their changing room if they want to show their outfits, and any unflattering body regions or fashion faux pas thus become revealed to other shoppers as well.

Colls' research suggests that women are aware of these factors on some intuitive level, because they look for shops with larger changing cubicles that have adjustable lights and large, comfortable seating for partners and friends.

The study contains an unexpected lesson for men as well. If a woman forces you to go shopping, and you want to get out of a store fast, encourage her to shop in boutiques: the changing rooms are often small and close to the shop floor.