Female Physical Attractiveness to Men: A Complete Study
Cross-cultural data shows that the reproductive success of women is tied to
their youth and physical attractiveness such as the pre-industrial Sami where
the most reproductively successful women were 15 years younger than their man.
One study covering 37 cultures showed that, on average, a woman was 2.5 years
younger than her male partner, with the age difference in Nigeria and Zambia
being at the far extreme of 6.5 to 7.5 years. As men age, they tend to seek a
mate who is ever younger.
25% of eHarmony's male customers over the age of 50 request to only be matched
with women younger than 40. A 2010 OkCupid study of 200,000 users found that
female desirability to its male users peaks at age 21, and falls below the
average for all women at 31. After age 26 men have a larger potential dating
pool than women on the site; by 48 their pool is almost twice as large. The
median 31 years-old male user searches for women aged 22 to 35, while the median
42 years-old male searches for women 27 to 45. The age skew is even greater with
messages to other users; the median 30 years-old male messages teenage girls as
often as women his own age, while mostly ignoring women a few years older than
him. Excluding the most and least beautiful 10% of women, however, women's
attractiveness does not change between 18 and 40.
Pheromones (detected by female hormone markers) reflects female fertility and
the reproductive value mean. As females age, the estrogen-to-androgen production
ratio changes and results in female faces to appear more and more masculine
(thus appearing less "attractive"). In a small (n=148) study performed in the
United States using male college students at one university, the mean age
expressed as ideal for a wife was found to be 16.87 years old, while 17.76 was
the mean ideal age for a brief sexual encounter; however, the study sets up a
framework where "taboos against sex with young girls" are purposely diminished,
and biased their sample by removing any participant over the age of 30, with a
mean participant age of 19.83. In a study of penile tumescence, men were found
most aroused by pictures of young adult females
Research has shown that most men enjoy the sight of female breasts. Some studies
indicate that men prefer large, firm breasts, while a contradictory study of
British undergraduates found men preferring small breasts on women. Smaller
breasts were widely associated with youthfulness. Cross-culturally, another
study found "high variability" regarding the ideal breast size. Some researchers
in the United Kingdom have speculated that a preference for larger breasts may
have developed in Western societies because women with larger breasts tend to
have higher levels of the hormones estradiol and progesterone, which both
promote fertility. A study showed that men prefer symmetrical breasts. Breast
symmetry may be particularly sensitive to developmental disturbances and the
symmetry differences for breasts are large compared to other body parts. Women
who have more symmetrical breasts tend to have more children.
Biological anthropologist, Helen B. Fisher of the Center for Human Evolution
Studies in the Department of Anthropology of Rutgers University, said that,
"perhaps, the fleshy, rounded buttocks... attracted males during rear-entry
intercourse." Bobbi S. Low et al. of the School of Natural Resources and
Environment at the University of Michigan, said the female "buttocks evolved in
the context of females competing for the attention and parental commitment of
powerful resource-controlling males" as an "honest display of fat reserves" that
could not be confused with another type of tissue, although T. M. Caro,
professor in the Center for Population Biology and the Department of Wildlife,
Fish, and Conservation Biology, at University of California, Davis, rejected
that as being a necessary conclusion, stating that female fatty deposits on the
hips improve "individual fitness of the female", regardless of sexual selection.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is an important determinant to the perception of beauty.
Even though the Western ideal is for a thin woman, some cultures prefer plumper
women,which has been argued to support that attraction for a particular BMI
merely is a cultural artifact. The attraction for a proportionate body also
influences an appeal for erect posture. One cross-cultural survey comparing
body-mass preferences among 300 of the most thoroughly studied cultures in the
world showed that 81% of cultures preferred a female body size that in English
would be described as "plump".
Availability of food influences which female body size is attractive which may
have evolutionary reasons. Societies with food scarcities prefer larger female
body size than societies having plenty of food. In Western society males who are
hungry prefer a larger female body size than they do when not hungry.
In the United States, women overestimate men's preferences for thinness in a
mate. In one study, American women were asked to choose what their ideal build
was and what they thought the build most attractive to men was. Women chose
slimmer than average figures for both choices. When American men were
independently asked to choose the female build most attractive to them, the men
chose figures of average build. This indicates that women may be misled as to
how thin men prefer women to be. Some speculate that thinness as a beauty
standard is one way in which women judge each other and that thinness is viewed
as prestigious for within-gender evaluations of other women. A reporter surmised
that thinness is prized among women as a "sign of independence, strength and
achievement." Some implicated the fashion industry for the promulgation of the
notion of thinness as attractive.
Ethnic groups vary with regard to their ideal waist-to-hip ratio for women,
ranging from 0.6 in China, to 0.8 or 0.9 in parts of South America and Africa
and divergent preferences based on ethnicity, rather than nationality, have also
been noted. A cross-cultural analysis that found isolated peoples preferring
high WHR (0.9) over a low WHR (0.7) suggested that many such "cross-cultural"
tests "may have only reflected the pervasiveness of Western media"; however many
evolutionary psychologists believe preference for low WHR is a signal for
fertility and biologically based.
Most men tend to be taller than their female partner. It has been found that, in
Western societies, most men prefer shorter women, although a difference in
height between a man and a woman was not as important of a factor for men when
choosing a woman, as it is for a woman choosing a man. Men tend to view taller
women as less attractive, and people view heterosexual couples where the woman
is taller to be less ideal. Women who are 0.7 to 1.7 standard deviations below
the mean female height have been reported to be the most reproductively
successful, since fewer tall women get married compared to shorter women.
However, in other ethnic groups, such as the Hadza, study has found that height
is irrelevant in choosing a mate.
Dated 20 March 2014