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Preferred women's waist-to-hip ratio variation over the last 2,500 years.

Bovet J, Raymond M - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: However, it is unclear whether the preferred WHR in western countries reflects a universal ideal, as geographic variation in non-western areas has been found, and discordances about its temporal consistency remain in the literature.We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present.The potential adaptive explanations for these results are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Evolutionary Sciences, University of Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, CC 065, Place Eugène Bataillon, Montpellier, France.

ABSTRACT
The ratio between the body circumference at the waist and the hips (or WHR) is a secondary sexual trait that is unique to humans and is well known to influence men's mate preferences. Because a woman's WHR also provides information about her age, health and fertility, men's preference concerning this physical feature may possibly be a cognitive adaptation selected in the human lineage. However, it is unclear whether the preferred WHR in western countries reflects a universal ideal, as geographic variation in non-western areas has been found, and discordances about its temporal consistency remain in the literature. We analyzed the WHR of women considered as ideally beautiful who were depicted in western artworks from 500 BCE to the present. These vestiges of the past feminine ideal were then compared to more recent symbols of beauty: Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present. Then, based on Playboy models and Miss pageants winners, this decrease appears to slow down or even reverse during the second half of the 20th century. The universality of an ideal WHR is thus challenged, and historical changes in western societies could have caused these variations in men's preferences. The potential adaptive explanations for these results are discussed.

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WHR values for Playboy centerfold models (in yellow) and winners of 4 Miss pageants (Miss America, Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss Universe, in blue) by time of magazine appearance or victory.The data were fit by a linear regression that includes a quadratic term (in red).
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pone.0123284.g002: WHR values for Playboy centerfold models (in yellow) and winners of 4 Miss pageants (Miss America, Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss Universe, in blue) by time of magazine appearance or victory.The data were fit by a linear regression that includes a quadratic term (in red).

Mentions: During the period from 1921–2014, the Playboy models and Miss pageants winners’ WHR ranged from 0.529 (for Mickey Winters, appeared in Playboy centerfold of Sept. 1962, 45.7 cm/86.3 cm) to 0.844 (for Ashley Hobbs, appeared in Playboy centerfold of Dec. 2010, 68.5 cm/81.2 cm), with a mean of 0.677. The data were better fit by a model when including a quadratic term: the women’s WHR had a curvilinear relationship with time (β = -0.083 and β = 2.12x10-5 for time and time2, respectively, P <0.0001, see Fig 2).


Preferred women's waist-to-hip ratio variation over the last 2,500 years.

Bovet J, Raymond M - PLoS ONE (2015)

WHR values for Playboy centerfold models (in yellow) and winners of 4 Miss pageants (Miss America, Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss Universe, in blue) by time of magazine appearance or victory.The data were fit by a linear regression that includes a quadratic term (in red).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4401783&req=5

pone.0123284.g002: WHR values for Playboy centerfold models (in yellow) and winners of 4 Miss pageants (Miss America, Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss Universe, in blue) by time of magazine appearance or victory.The data were fit by a linear regression that includes a quadratic term (in red).
Mentions: During the period from 1921–2014, the Playboy models and Miss pageants winners’ WHR ranged from 0.529 (for Mickey Winters, appeared in Playboy centerfold of Sept. 1962, 45.7 cm/86.3 cm) to 0.844 (for Ashley Hobbs, appeared in Playboy centerfold of Dec. 2010, 68.5 cm/81.2 cm), with a mean of 0.677. The data were better fit by a model when including a quadratic term: the women’s WHR had a curvilinear relationship with time (β = -0.083 and β = 2.12x10-5 for time and time2, respectively, P <0.0001, see Fig 2).

Bottom Line: However, it is unclear whether the preferred WHR in western countries reflects a universal ideal, as geographic variation in non-western areas has been found, and discordances about its temporal consistency remain in the literature.We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present.The potential adaptive explanations for these results are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Evolutionary Sciences, University of Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, CC 065, Place Eugène Bataillon, Montpellier, France.

ABSTRACT
The ratio between the body circumference at the waist and the hips (or WHR) is a secondary sexual trait that is unique to humans and is well known to influence men's mate preferences. Because a woman's WHR also provides information about her age, health and fertility, men's preference concerning this physical feature may possibly be a cognitive adaptation selected in the human lineage. However, it is unclear whether the preferred WHR in western countries reflects a universal ideal, as geographic variation in non-western areas has been found, and discordances about its temporal consistency remain in the literature. We analyzed the WHR of women considered as ideally beautiful who were depicted in western artworks from 500 BCE to the present. These vestiges of the past feminine ideal were then compared to more recent symbols of beauty: Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present. Then, based on Playboy models and Miss pageants winners, this decrease appears to slow down or even reverse during the second half of the 20th century. The universality of an ideal WHR is thus challenged, and historical changes in western societies could have caused these variations in men's preferences. The potential adaptive explanations for these results are discussed.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus