The “perfect body” for women varied throughout history, depending on the socially accepted norms in different time periods. Larger women were preferred in the Italian Renaissance because they were viewed as healthier and more effective for reproduction. In the centuries that followed, the ideal female body shape started leaning towards more slender types. In the 20th century, with the exception of the Marilyn Monroe era, the thin figure became the norm. Women were under constant pressure to attain an ideal slim figure, however unattainable it was. The media bombarded women with images of the perfect body, which had a huge impact on how women viewed themselves.
But how do men view the female body image and what is their perfect female body shape?
A study was conducted involving researchers from 10 countries around the world, and led by professor John Speakman from the University of Aberdeen. The study asked men from 10 countries to rank a series of body shapes from most attractive to least attractive. The answers were very similar, but not that unexpected.
The majority of the men found the thinner images more attractive. The most popular body shape was a BMI (body mass index) of 19.
Source: Huffington Post Canada
A BMI of 19 is the borderline of being underweight. As the BMI increased above that value, the images were seen as less attractive.
Professor Speakman explains, “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?”
Source: Bellydance By Jennifer
Source: The White Wedding Lounging
Dr. Lobke Vaanholt, who organized the University of Aberdeen component of the study, said: “Most people will not be surprised that extreme thinness was perceived as the most attractive body type.”
She thinks the reason for that are the norms pushed by the media, culture, and fashion. She also noted that the important breakthrough was that “now we have an evolutionary understanding of why this is the case.”
Source: Stylish Curves
In conclusion, the team believes that men find thinness in females so attractive because they equate it with youth.
A BMI of 17-20 corresponds to the average BMI of a young 18-20 year old with maximal fertility and minimal risk of future disease.
Their results contradicted some earlier theories that suggested people are drawn to fatter body types because they were associated with better survival.
Source: Chrissie McDonald
Therefore, scientists predicted that there should be a peak in attractiveness around a BMI of 24 and 24.8, which was clearly not the case.
PeerJ published this study in August, 2015.