A study to determine what body type do men prefer more has revealed some interesting but predictable results. Conducted by Dr Lobke M Vaanholt and her team, the study revealed that women with a BMI of 17-20 were regarded as most attractive.
The study was helmed by Professor John Speakman of the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing in collaboration with the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen.
The hunt to find out the most attractive body type led Vaanholt and her team to give participants—men from all over the world—a cluster of 21 pictures showing different body shapes to look at and rank them in order from most attractive to least attractive.
"We asked people to rate the images of different levels of attractiveness, with four groups in Africa, three in Asia and three in Europe,” said Vaanholt, as reported by the Evening Express UK.
Dishearteningly, most participants rated the thin women as most attractive. According to PsyBlog, the women with low body mass index who were borderline underweight were ranked the highest with maximum attractive quotient.
“In all the groups, people preferred the thinnest images, which didn’t agree at all with the model we had used to predict attractiveness,” Vaanholt, told Evening Express UK. “People generally associated a thinner body with a younger age,” she added further.
Curvy v/s petite woman
Just in case you were wondering what could possibly be the reason behind the choice of the majority of participants? It isn't what you think. There's more than what meets the eye.
Vaanholt explained that the preferences are directly related to the evolution theory.
"Although most people will not be surprised that extreme thinness was perceived as the most attractive body type – since this prevails so heavily in media, culture, and fashion – the important advance is that now we have an evolutionary understanding of why this is the case,” said Vaanholt.
It all comes down to being healthy and fit. Thin women, at first glance, are considered to be healthy and fitter than their curvier counterparts. Being 'thin' or rather, correctly put, being in shape also directly corresponds to a healthy lifestyle, smoother reproductive mechanism along with better knowledge on the dos and don'ts concerning survival and surviving right for longevity.
This explains why women with higher BMI in the study fared poorly in the rating scorecard. Researcher John Speakman explained that they performed this research as a way to find out why we find certain people attractive.
“Fitness in evolutionary terms comprises two things: survival and the ability to reproduce. What we wanted to investigate was the idea that when we look at someone and think they are physically attractive, are we actually making that assessment based on a hard-wired evolutionary understanding of their potential for future survival and reproductive ability?” Speakman said, as reported by PsyBlog.
However, not all is lost.
The research team stated that different cultures across the world have a different perception of beauty and attractiveness which could affect their ideal body type choice.
In the same study, researchers also found that women preferred men with broad shoulders and a small waist.
Despite petite women scoring top marks in this particular study, there are several studies that prove the contrary. A study done in 2011 stands in absolute contradiction to the former study's results. This study found out that men were more attracted to women with hourglass-shape and curvy women— small waist with large hips.
The study further reiterated that men preferred women with broader waists and felt it was extremely important compared to a woman’s face or the proportions of her assets, according to Medical Daily.
All said and done, there exist numerous studies that contradict and purport one another's viewpoints and findings. But what one must remember is that there doesn't exist just one type of body shape—there are several body shapes and forms out in the world and each one is unique and beautiful in their own way.
Advice to the wise? Focus on getting fitter and don't be too harsh on yourself. Like Bruno Mars said, "You're beautiful...just the way you are..."
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