What makes an ideal mate? In chapter 5 of Research Stories for Introductory Psychology, the emphasis of female figure in mate-choosing is investigated. Using evolutionary psychology, many scientists have researched the human mating strategy. The ultimate goal for all humans is the passing on of genes. However, there are different traits that increase attractiveness of a man to a woman that can be explained scientifically, not just socially. The waist to hip ratio (WHR) of women is thought to be a big factor when a male is determining his mate; it has historical roots as a dimension of beauty (47).
In Victorian society, women used to wear corsets to make their waists smaller, bust bigger and hips bigger.
Having a curvy figure sends subliminal messages to a man that the woman is fertile and capable of healthy childbearing and nurturing her offspring. Evolutionary psychology leads us to believe both sexes subconsciously desire mates who will enhance their own opportunities to reproduce more effectively. In a study performed to prove that males are most attracted to females with low WHR’s, a study of 106 Caucasian and Hispanic college men volunteered from the psychology department to participate. The participants ranked 12 line drawings (to eliminate any other factors that might have contributed using pictures, etc. ) of an average female with four different levels of waist to hip ratios and three different levels of body weight (underweight, normal, and overweight) on a scale measuring which they thought was most attractive. To find the WHR size, the waist measurement is divided by the hip measurement.
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A low ratio is considered to be attractive, but overall weight does play a role as well. The normal figure with the lowest WHR was rated most attractive and the underweight figure with the same WHR came in second. Nearly all of the figures were rated from lowest WHR to highest with the exception of the overweight category, which was given the lowest ranking even with the low WHR. This study concluded that the women whose body looks the healthiest or most fertile (low WHR) is the most attractive. Studies have proven the women with low WHR’s have a decreased risk for diabetes, coronary stroke and disease, and high WHR is indicates difficulty becoming pregnant. Even though not every man sits down and makes a list of the health benefits of having an attractive figure for his potential mates, it’s a subconscious thought process in determining health.
Of course other things come into the picture when perceiving a woman’s beauty, but a woman’s shape definitely plays a big role. This research project makes sense because men do mostly go for the women with the slim and attractive bodies over the overweight ones. However it is a little frustrating. Foremost, many women cannot genetically help the form they are born with. A lot of girls are born with boyish figures, which according to this study, are not considered attractive.
It seems rare for the average girl to have the body of Britney Spears. However, this is what the majority of men like and this is what is portrayed as beauty. We have representations such as Miss America, Porn stars, and closely related pop icons with these wonderfully skinny yet luscious hourglass figures. Women want to be attractive like that; they feel the need to be desired by men. This is why some women go to drastic measures such as plastic surgery, eating disorders, and spending mass amounts of money on hair and makeup.
If there’s something imperfect about a person, we try and fix it. Plastic surgery is becoming more commonplace. Women want to change their appearance ultimately to be desirable. Even when women say they want to change it so they can be more confident with themselves, there is always underlying pressure from the outside world.
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Females want to feel confident because many of them think the world does not accept them as they are now. They need to be able to compete with the gorgeous women out there. From nose job and lip enhancement to breast implants, this country has an obsession with surgically changing the looks they were born with. Studies like this only prove the male is attracted to the thinner, curvier female physique.
If anything it worsens relations between genders because it excuses the behavior of the status quo. Men can claim that it is in their genetic makeup to be more concerned about concrete traits such as body shape instead of personality if the body shape isn’t perfect. However, this can also help women understand why males tend to seem so shallow, not that it makes it anymore acceptable. What happened to the natural girl? A few centuries ago it was considered beautiful to have a somewhat larger body.
Now that idea has practically washed of the face of this earth and we are left with women who go to extremes to transform their bodies to become the ideal figure.