I have met very few females that are 100% comfortable with their bodies. Everyone from movie stars to supermodels to Jane the Plumber has some sort of flaw—real or imagined—that they are sensitive about.
A recent study conducted by Australian and Hong Kong scientists (and published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology) does not exactly give a warm fuzzy feeling to those of us with the stomach flab that never quite bounced back after having a baby, facial hair, knobby knees, short stature, no butt, or any other perceived imperfection you can imagine.
Nope, the ideal woman is young, tall, and long-armed.
I’m freaking screwed.
“Physical attractiveness is an important determining factor for evolutionary, social, and economic success,” said lead author Robert Brooks from the University of New South Wales. “The dimensions of someone’s body can tell observers if that person is suitable as a potential mate, a long term partner, or perhaps the threat they pose as a sexual competitor.”
It’s interesting how evolution has been dragged into this along with the notion that Darwin’s idea of natural selection extends to the purely physical. And perhaps not entirely surprisingly, that mindset has led to a look at torso, waist, bust, and hip measurements—it’s all about childbearing, don’t you know?
The women used as “models” were Chinese women between 20-49, quite an age gap when you think …
… about it. And, with 96 varying types of bodies to choose from, the study in all likelihood has some veracity (I would argue about the ethnicity piece, but in general it seems like a pretty diverse group).
Videos of the models were shown to a sample of 92 Australian adults, 40 men and 52 women, aged between 18 to 58 years of age, and mostly of European descent. They then compared the attractiveness ratings given by the Australian group to the ratings from a group in Hong Kong to avoid cultural bias.
Both sample groups were asked to rate the models’ attractiveness on a 7 point scale; on average the raters took just 5.35 seconds to rate each model.
Wow, that definitely gives some credence to the “lust at first sight” thing, doesn’t it?
The results showed that there was a strong level of agreement between the 4 groups of Australian men and women, and Hong Kong men and women, with scans of younger, taller, and lighter women being rated as more attractive. Women with narrow waists, especially relative to their height, were also considered much more attractive.
The study also revealed that BMI (body mass index) and HWR (height to waist ratio) were both strong predictors of attractiveness. Scans of taller women who had longer arms were also rated highly, however leg size did not contribute significantly to the ratings.
The study’s conclusion was that a cross-cultural definition of “attractive” is statistically stable.
Concluded Brooks, “In part, this may be due to shared media experiences. Nonetheless, when models are stripped of their most obvious racial and cultural features, the features that make bodies attractive tend to be shared by men and women across cultural divides.”
And yet I have kind of a different conclusion to draw from this. While the pinnacle of attractiveness (“a perfect 10,” so to speak) might be appealing to look at, I don’t know that it’s necessarily indicative of what a man or a woman truly looks for beyond the surface appearance.
When I asked the last guy I slept with if my post-pregnancy pooch (which there’s no excuse for, by the way … my “baby” is six now, so I really just need to step up the sit-ups) turned him off, he just said, “We all come in different shapes and sizes, darlin’”. And, uh, he was clearly not lying. So when we watched The Dark Knight (utterly amazing flick, by the way) and he was drooling over Maggie Gyllenhall, it truly did not bother me.
The thing is, Maggie is eye candy for him. I am reality. That’s very simplified, I know, but it makes sense to me.
Like, I would never want to date a guy that looked like Brad Pitt in his prime, for example. I’d be worrying all the time that girls, girls much prettier than me, would be lusting after him at every turn. That would bother me a hell of a lot more than his arm span or BMI or the size of his cock.
So in a way, I think this study was kind of a waste of time. Yeah, there’s a shared ideal of “the attractive woman,” but I don’t exactly see that as a news flash.
Instead, I see the results to prove how refreshing it is that men and women are able to look beyond the physical “perfection” that exists and settle for some of us “real lifers.”