Body attractiveness

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Michelangelo's famous statue of David. Several features of his body, such as his broad shoulders, slender waist, low body fat, and his relatively high muscularity, have been found by modern attractiveness research to be attractive to women, though many modern women may express a greater preference for a greater level of musculature in the upper body.

Body attractiveness refers to the perceived aesthetic quality of an individual's body or group of people's bodies as distinguished from their face's attractiveness. Among men, bodily attractiveness is primarily determined by cues related to perceived upper body strength and overall physical vitality, such as broad shoulders,[1] and a lower waist-to-chest ratio. WCR is the circumference of the waist divided by the circumference of the chest; therefore, a lower ratio denotes a larger trunk and a narrower waist, i.e., the classic 'V-taper' torso shape.[2]

Muscular arms and a general level of lower body musculature that is not grossly disproportionate to the upper body ('chicken leg syndrome') also appear to play some role in women's judgements of male bodily attractiveness.

Excessive adiposity is not generally preferred, with a reasonably low body fat percentage,[3] and a BMI in the high normal to overweight range (the latter likely indicating a preference for greater muscularity) being associated with greater bodily attractiveness in men.[4]

In regards to the lower body musculature, the gluteal muscles are widely reported by women to be the most attractive lower body muscles among males when they are well developed.[5]

In women, signs of youth and nubility such as firm breasts, firm buttocks, overall 'smooth' distribution of subcutaneous fat, and a narrow waist are the factors most strongly associated with overall bodily attractiveness, together with general slimness. Larger breasts are also generally preferred by men.[6]

Determinates of female bodily attractiveness[edit]

Among women, the main factors that contribute to observer judgements of their bodily attractiveness are factors associated with perceived or actual health, youth, and general fecundity, such as a lower waist-to-hip ratio (WHR, the waist circumference divided by the hip circumference, associated with the classical 'hourglass' body shape), a low BMI (with the general ideal BMI in regards to female attractiveness being very low, well within the 'underweight' range), and large breasts and buttocks that are still proportionate with overall body size.[7][8] The firmness of the breasts and buttocks (generally negatively associated with age) is also highly valued by men,[9] with breast firmness (being strongly associated with nubility) being found to play more of a role in men's evaluations of the attractiveness of female breasts than raw size.[10]

Though BMI and WHR are linearly correlated with each other (that is, there is a trade-off where an increased WHR is associated with higher levels of body fat in women, and thus a higher BMI, which is generally not seen as ideal in a female partner among men) attractiveness of a woman's body is more determined by a lower BMI than WHR (thinness),[11] and most of the contribution of WHR towards evaluations of female bodily attractiveness is explicable by a smooth distribution of body fat in a gynoid shape on the female body (fat being concentrated around the hips and thighs) being associated with higher attractiveness ratings of female bodies by men, strongly implying that both the distribution and amount of this fat (particularly subcutaneous fat, which is generally thicker in women than men), in so far as this fat contributes to an overall smooth and curvaceous appearance in the woman, is more critical in determining female bodily attractiveness than simple ratios like the WHR.[12]

Relation between rated strength and male bodily attractiveness[edit]

According to two studies examining women's preferences in regards to male body types published by the Royal Society in 2017, it appears that, when evaluating the holistic factors that determine women's judgments of the attractiveness of male bodies, perceived strength is the strongest single indicator of male bodily attractiveness. This single trait has a very high positive correlation (r = .0.8) with women's attractiveness ratings of said male bodies.

The conductors of these studies also found evidence that there exists a linear association between perceived strength (as judged by women) in male bodies and higher ratings of men's bodily attractive attractiveness, with no women in the sample demonstrating a statistically significant preference for weaker men, in contradiction to previous research that maintained this association was curvilinear (that is, women find men with a 'sweet spot' level of formidability to be the most attractive and dislike both very muscular and thin men).

Relation of stature to body attractiveness[edit]

In both sexes, a greater stature (per the male-taller 'norm,' an individual rater's height will be expected to moderate any positive effect of stature on overall attractiveness, i.e., people will have a strong bias to prefer pairs where the man is taller than the women, and this will play a prominent role in determining individuals preference for stature in this regard vis-à-vis the height of the potential partner one is evaluating).[13]

An above-average leg length in proportion to the trunk is generally seen as more attractive (with the latter being particularly important in determining the attractiveness of female bodies).[14][15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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