Women who are almost underweight are most attractive to men, a recent study finds.
Dr Lobke Vaanholt, one of the study’s authors, said:
“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.”
For the research, people in 10 different countries were rated a deck of cards which showed various body shapes.
They were asked to put these in order from most to least attractive.
Women with a BMI of 19, which is on the borderline with being underweight, were preferred across the board.
From Texas to Tehran and from Dakar to Beijing, the results were the same.
As a woman’s BMI increased, they become progressively less attractive.
The simple reason men find a low BMI attractive is that it signals youth.
The typical BMI of an 18 to 20-year-old is between 17 and 20.
Professor John Speakman, who led the research, explained the evolutionary aspect of the findings:
“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?”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal PeerJ (Wang et al., 2015).