...something men notice and often use to determine whether they think a woman is beautiful or not: a slim waist.
A slim waist has been the hallmark of an attractive woman throughout hundreds of years of history, according to a study led by Dr. Devendra Singh from the University of Texas. He maintains that a woman's waist-to-hip ratio is a key factor in attracting men, even more than breast size or facial appearance.
For evidence, Singh points to literature. Being slim is the most common way an author praises a beautiful woman. He analyzed more than 345,000 British and American writings from the 16th to the 18th centuries, as well as some Indian and Chinese romantic and erotic poetry from the 1st to 6th centuries.
"The common historical assumption in the social sciences has been that the standards of beauty are arbitrary, solely culturally determined and in the eye of the beholder," Singh told the BBC News. "The finding that the writers describe a small waist as beautiful suggests instead that this body part--a known marker of health and fertility--is a core feature of feminine beauty that transcends ethnic differences and cultures." He did admit that the breasts were mentioned the most frequently in literature, but it was waistlines that were predominantly linked to attractiveness.
Why are men attracted to a slim waist? Dr. Piers Cornelissen, a psychologist at the University of York in the United Kingdom, told the BBC that the sexual attractiveness of the curve between slim waist and hips may be due to a liking for well-fed women rather than a subtle sign of fertility.
Using mathematical equations, he separated the amount of the "curve" between waist and hip which is due to simple fat deposits, and that due to other factors such as bone structure and the effects of sex hormones. "When we break apart that 'curviness,' it is almost impossible to find an effect for waist-hip ratio that is independent of effects such as body fat percentage."
How do you compute your waist-to-hip ratio? Use a measuring tape to determine your waist and hip measurements. Measure your hip circumference at it's widest part, and measure your waist circumference at the belly button or just above it. Pull out your calculator and divide the waist circumference by the hip circumference or use an online waist-to-hip ratio calculator to run the numbers.
What is the ideal waist-to-hip ratio for your good health?
--From the Editors at Netscape
- Women should aim for 0.85 or lower.
- Men should aspire to 0.90 or lower.
Higher numbers represent a higher heart attack risk.