The Real Reason You Want A 'Revenge Body'

Newly single? We've been there — and have tried all the different types of emotional band-aids. As good as that pint of ice cream tastes, and as self-indulging an ex-bashing session over cocktails with your friends feels, a lot of newly single people are choosing to put down the spoon and booze — and shifting focus to improving their physiques. And we totally get why. Daydreaming about looking like a superhero version of your old self the next time you bump into your ex is one of the most effective emotional band-aids we know of. But be careful of how long your wear it.

The "revenge body" is a relatively new term coined to describe a post-breakup inspired makeover. And those daydreams about running into your ex while looking extra fabulous are playing on rerun in your head for a reason. It turns out there are scientific explanations as to why they are making you feel better. 

In a study looking to understand what happens to the brain when a person is contemplating revenge, a group of Swiss researchers found that when participants were thinking about getting even, there was a rush of activity in the part of the brain that controls reward (via Science of People). So it's understandable that if your breakup left you feeling hurt or snubbed, your brain would be creating scenarios in which you felt rewarded.

A revenge body may serve as a distraction

Another reason you might want a revenge body can be based on avoidance. Most breakups leave us with a harsh going away present of emotional baggage. Because you may not want to take the time or effort to sort through that luggage, you tend to focus on more of the exterior than the interior. Lora Park, a psychology professor at the University at Buffalo told Vice, "Appearing attractive to others doesn't necessarily require interacting directly with others. Thus, one can protect their self-esteem and avoid potential rejection by focusing on their appearance, rather than focusing on their internal qualities like being warm, caring, or kind."

If you are getting a revenge body because you have set aside emotional baggage, or are seeking the rewarding feeling that comes while thinking about revenge, it's completely understandable. But it can lead to a longer period of feeling stuck in a post-breakup slump. Psychology coach Erin Campbell warns, "We cannot heal and grow to our full potential if we are doing things for the benefit of needing to prove our worth to others." Campbell goes on to say that neglecting to tend to our grief can actually keep us from fully moving on (via Huffington Post). 

So go ahead and keep using the emotional band-aid of your choice after a breakup. Just make sure you are tending to the wound as well.