If you’ve read the erotic romance novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” chances are you’ve developed an utter fascination for the slick Christian Grey — along with a new-found appreciation for jets, ties and elevators. But those aren’t the only ways the novel might affect you.
A new study shows that young adult women who read the BDSM-filled series are more likely than non-readers to show signs of eating disorders, binge drinking, having abusive sex partners and other unhealthy behaviors. The study, led by Michigan State University researcher Amy Bonomi, said all of these behaviors are linked to being in an abusive relationship, much like the novel’s protagonist, Anastasia Steele.
The study looked at more than 650 women between the ages of 18 and 24, which Bonomi says is a ripe time for sexual experimentation. Researchers found that those who read “Fifty Shades” were 25% more likely than nonreaders to have a verbally abusive partner and 34% were more likely to have a partner with “stalking tendencies,” like Christian Grey. Furthermore, 75% of readers were more likely to have fasted or used diet aids for longer than 24 hours. Those who read all three books in the series were 63% more likely to have more than five sex partners and 65% more likely to binge drink.
Bonomi says one caveat to the study is that some women may have showed signs of those dangerous behaviors before they read the books. But even if that’s the case, she believes that “reading ‘Fifty Shades’ might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma,” she said.
All in all, the study shows that the wildly popular series could be doing more harm than good. And with a big-screen adaptation slated for release in February 2015, the unhealthy behaviors might unfortunately continue.