By guest bloggers Angie Bohnen and Laura Walters from the family life class.
[I got a little ahead of myself yesterday - this is part two of Tuesday's post.]
Overall, what men seek in women is the indication that they are fertile. However, what men seek in women and what women think men seek can often differ. A study done in 1993, found that men tend to have a preference for women with a waist- to- hip ratio centering near 0.70. Psychologist Devendra Singh argues that the waist-to-hip ratio can be viewed as a reliable marker of age. Before puberty, boys and girls show a similar fat distribution. After puberty, boys lose fat from their buttocks and thighs. Androgens (especially testosterone) cause them to gain fat in their abdominal region. Estrogen is released in girls and this causes them to gain fat in their hips and thighs, which may be an independent criterion of fertility. A study performed on Dutch women found that a 0.1 unit increase in waist-to-hip ratio led to a 30 % decrease in probability of conception per cycle after adjustment for age, fatness, reasons for artificial insemination, cycle length and regularity, smoking, and parity (Zaadstra et al, 1993). This means that a woman with a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.80 instead of Singh’s advised 0.70 would have a 30% lower chance of becoming pregnant. Singh conducted a study on the waist-to-hip ratio of Miss America pageant winners and Playboy centerfold winners over the past thirty years. Although both models and beauty contest winners got thinner over the time span, their waist-to-hip ratio remained exactly in the 0.70 range. This information serves as evidence that although the idealized female body types may have changed over the past decades, the waist-to-hip ratio has remained the same.
Knowing that men prefer a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.70, women should come to the realization that men actually prefer a more average sized body frame. Although women are often led to believe, by such influences as the media, that men prefer super skinny women; this is not the case. Waist-to-hip ratios that are below 0.70 could serve as evidence that a woman is not fertile. On the other hand, when women are pregnant, their waist-to-hip ratio becomes much greater that 0.70. If a woman has a ratio that is much greater than 0.70, it mimics pregnancy and therefore may render her less attractive as a mate or sexual partner.4
Overall, women should be thankful that men prefer a waist-to-hip ratio of around 0.70. The waist-to-hip ratio is one that indicates not only physical attractiveness, but also is an indicator of long-term health status. In trying to attain or maintain a waist-to-hip ratio of around 0.70, women make themselves attractive to men, but more importantly will be maintaining a healthy size. Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, stroke, and gallbladder disorders have been shown to be linked with the distribution of fat, as reflected by this ratio. Women who are much larger or much smaller, are indicative of poor health.
Men have consistently found a 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio as attractive in women over many decades. This ratio is not only an idealized number, but also, as Zaadstra et al demonstrated, it is an indicator of health and fertility; therefore, women should not resent it. In actuality, women should embrace it as nature’s way of helping them attract mates and be healthy and fertile.
Zaadstra, B. et al. 1993. Fat and female fecundity: Prospective study of effect of body fat distribution on conception rates. British Medical Journal, 306: 484-487.
Buss, David M. The Evolution of Desire. Pp.55-57. Basic Books. New York, 1994.]