Thursday, May 25, 2006

What Men Really Want, Part Two

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.

[Works cited:
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.]


Stuart Gordon said...

I've heard of these findings before, and they accord with my own perceptions of women. Women of different heights and weights are attractive, and that proportionality seems to be the biggest factor. Yet . . .

I reject the suggestion that a woman should consult the statistics in order to craft her body; it is no different from a woman accepting idealized images from fashion magazines as normative for her. Quite frankly, we are born different. As much as I would like to be closer to today's ideal male body type, I'm not, and I never will be. I can seek only to be active and healthy.

It is "oppressive" for men and women to compare themselves to any type of physical ideal and to aim by diet, exercise, surgery, cosmetics, et al. to attain that ideal. We are who we are, and can be remarkably happy, fulfilled, and wedded as we are.

Gruntled said...

I find the "men like average-shaped women" study comforting, because it helps most women (who are, by definition, average shaped) be more comfortable with the way they already look. I agree, though, that no one should force herself to be average just to be average.

Pastor Lance said...

I was good at math. However, I never used it when looking for a gal to date or marry. "Fertility" was not high on my meter--back in the high school or college days.

Yes, I wanted to be a dad at some point. But not then.

I probably would have gotten slapped if I walked up to a "prospective female" to measure if her "ratio" was near 0.70!

Gruntled said...

I suppose they should mention that sociobiology takes it as a given that these preferences in a mate, and their connection to fertility, are unconscious.

Ken Lammers said...

Just a little off point . . .

So guys get round around the abs because of testosterone. Well, that explains a lot. I guess I've just always had an over abundence of testosterone. I've obviously had more than other guys and nowadays I must be absolutely overflowing hormonally. How can the women resist me?

And I will find the ones among you who are thinking "easily."

Gruntled said...

Women like strong men, though they will trade brains or, in a pinch, money.

KLG said...

To carry that finding, that a waist to hip ratio of 0.7 indicates maximum female fertility, a little further - I wonder if that is why as women approach menopause and the end of their child bearing years, that ratio suddenly jumps to closer to 1.0? (Any resemblence to me is unintentional and should not be further investigated!!)

Gruntled said...

Which brings us back to the "grandmother hypothesis," what human women stop being fertile long before men do or, these days, before the end of life, so that they can help their children raise their grandchildren.

How To Attract Men said...

Although it may be so that unconsciously men are mostly attracted to women of certain dimensions! It is also true to say that certain men find certain types of women attractive (that do not adhere to said dimensions) perhaps these are traits that resemble their Mother or other highly esteemed female figure during their childhood.

Gruntled you say:

"Women like strong men, though they will trade brains or, in a pinch, money."

Too true by far in many cases!
What Men Really Want