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Perfect female body measurements

Updated on April 3, 2012

What determines the beauty of a female body has seemingly changed across time and cultures. Were not the models chubbier in the 60s? Is it not true that females that would have been considered obese in western cultures, are considered beautiful in certain 3rd world countries?

Beauty is of such importance and so closely linked to health that it would not make much sense if it was a term easily malleable by societal norms. Well, that is if you agree with the majority of the scientific community that we are largely influenced by biological premises. If there were anything that should be heavily influenced by human evolution, it would be food and preferences for opposite sex individuals. As there are limited studies from the 3rd world, a universal conclusion cannot be made. Within western societies, however, the results are clear.


Body Measurements of Playboy Playmates

The fact that body shape preferences is highly influenced by nature is not to say that society does not influence the beauty norms from one year to the next. Even in a society like the United States, which even in hard times has high living standard in comparison to the rest of the world, there were found differences between the size of the playboy playmate depending on the economic situation in society as a whole (Pettijohn & Jungeberg, 2004). During economical hardship between 1960 and 2000, there were increased tendency for the playmate to be slightly heavier and older. That includes facial traits indirectly associated with age, e.g. smaller eyes.

That is not to say that the changes in preference were large, with the age of the female models rarely being above 25 years. Same applied to the other measurements. During the 40 years in question the lowest Body Mass Index was 16 and highest was 20½, with the average being about middle in between (to calculate BMI visit this BMI Calculator). Same applied to Waist-to-Hip ratio which stayed within the range of .57 to .73.

Waist-to-Hip ratio as measurement of fertility

The above mentioned study is not the only one that have studied Playboy playmates with the assumption that the women chosen for this title reflect the societal norm for beauty. For example Singh had previously noted that, whereas changes in body structure had been found among Playboy Playmates, the overall Waist-to-Hip ratio had only increased slightly from .68 to .71. What is the significance of this? A healthy WHR range for a woman is considered between .67 and .80, where a higher ratio is associated with decreased fertility (Rempala & Garvey, 2007). The ratio also increases during menopause and pregnancy, both, naturally, associated with decreased fertility.

More direct evidence showing the male preferences is studies where subjects have been rating pictures of real persons. Men found in this kind of study that females with ratio of .70 to .71 were significantly more attractive than women with ratio of .73 to .74 (Rempala & Garvey, 2007). Similar finding has been found in numerous studies. For example it has been found that not only do men prefer a Waits-to-Hip ratio around .7, but they also have a strong, non-linear, preference based on female BMI (Body mass index). The most desirable bodies had Waist-to-Hip ratio around the ideal range of .7, but the desirability was dependent on BMI (Tovee et al, 1999).

Perfect female BMI range

I mentioned above that the BMI index for Playboy Playmates from 1960 to the year 2000 were between 16 and 20½. This also fits in with what was found when students were asked to rate large amount of females based on body photographs. Bodies with BMI of less than 15 and above 30 were, without exception, rated as undesirable. On the other hand, BMI between 18 and 20 was consistently found to be the most desirable (Tovee et al., 1999).

So what is the perfect body measurements?

There seem to be a consistent preference among males for a female BMI index around 20. With BMI above 25 being considered too high and below 15 being too slim.

The preferred Waist-to-Hip ratio seems to consistently hoover around .7.

References for this hub - Perfect Female body measurements

Pettijohn T. F. & Jungeberg B. J. (2004). Playboy Playmate Curves: Changes in Facial and Body Feature Preferences Across Social and Economic Conditions. PSPB, Vol. 30 No. 9, September 2004 1186-1197

Rempala D. & Garvey K. (2007). Sex differences in the effects of incremental changes in Waist-to-Hip Ratio. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 1 (3): 86-97.

Tovee M. J. et al (1999) Visual cues to female physical attractiveness. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 266, 211-218


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