Figure-conscious women who stress their men out may find their behaviour has unintended consequences.
Stress causes men to be more attracted to heavier members of the opposite sex, a study has found.
The reason may relate to feelings of insecurity and seeking protection from a mature-looking mother figure, scientists believe.
Researchers uncovered evidence of the psychological effect after testing 81 male university students.
One group was placed under stress by asking them to take part in a taxing mock job interview.
Scroll down for sexy, curvy ladies (PICTURES)
All the men then had to rate the attractiveness of photographed female bodies ranging from very thin to obese. The stressed group found a significantly heavier body size as the most attractive.
Stressed men gave significantly higher ratings to normal and overweight figures than non-stressed men. The range of women they saw as attractive was also shifted towards those who were heavier.
For stressed men, the threshold point after which women became too big to be attractive was higher. Dr Viren Swami, from the University of Westminster in London, and Martin Tovee, from the University of Newcastle, report their findings in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.
The wrote: "The present results provide the first experimental evidence that the experience of psychological stress shapes men's judgment of female body size.
"Men experiencing stress not only perceive a heavier female body size as maximally attractive, but also more positively perceive heavier female body size and have a wider range of body sizes considered physically attractive."
The findings lend support to the Environmental Security Hypothesis, said the researchers. This suggests that when conditions are threatening or uncertain individuals will be drawn to others with more mature physical characteristics, including heavier body size.
"More mature physical features may communicate attributes such as strength, control and independence during periods when such qualities should be most desired," the scientists wrote.
Previous research suggests that heavier body size is preferred when resources are scarce.
Versace: Front Row - Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture F/W 2012/13
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 01: Christina Hendricks attends the Versace Haute-Couture show as part of Paris Fashion Week Fall / Winter 2012/13 at the Ritz hotel on July 1, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
In this undated publicity photo courtesy Running Press, Marilyn Monroe is shown in the first photo taken of her in the famous white dress from the "The Seven Year Itch." For a brief scene in "The Seven Year Itch," in September 1954, her character strolls on a Manhattan street on a stifling summer evening. When a subway rattles beneath her, Marilyn stands astride a sidewalk vent to catch a cool breeze that swirls her skirt up around her waist. (AP Photo/Courtesy Running Press)
In this Friday May 25, 2012 photo provided by Parkwood Entertainment, Beyonce performs at Revel in Atlantic City, N.J., for the resort's premiere. It is the first of four scheduled shows for Memorial Day weekend. (AP Photo/Parkwood Entertainment, Robin Harper)
Television personality Tyra Banks attends the TIME 100 gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, at the Frederick P. Rose Hall on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
U.S. actress Kate Winslet arrives at the 37th French Cesar Awards ceremony, in Paris, Friday Feb. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
British actress Gemma Arterton arrives for an exhibition in aid of the Sky Rainforest Rescue campaign, at Somerset House, London, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Model Kelly Brook arrives for the screening of You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet at the 65th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Monday, May 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
British singer, Emma Bunton, arrives for The Prince's Trust Success Awards at a central venue in London, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Jonathan Short)
US singer Jeniffer Lopez performs during
US singer Jeniffer Lopez performs during the Pop Music Festival 2012 at Arena Anhembi in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 23, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Yasuyoshi CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/GettyImages)
FILE - British singer Charlotte Church arrives at an awards ceremony in central London, in this Monday Oct. 25, 2010 file photo. Singer Charlotte Church, a former teen sensation who has been the subject of intense tabloid intrusion, has settled her phone-hacking lawsuit against the publisher of the News of the World tabloid, lawyers told Britain's High Court on Thursday Feb. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, file)