Do Men Like Curvy Women?

curvy-woman-attractiveSkinny, thick, slim, thin, full-figured.

…Curvy.

It is often said that men like curvy women — “Only a dog wants a bone.” Some women deride a decidedly skinny female form as boyish and less sexually appealing than the curvy silhouette. While popular culture features mostly thinner figured, many women and men alike praise the curvy figure as more natural to women, suggesting that it shows youth and fertility.

Those who disagree with this view mock such praise as invention of overweight women to feel better about the fact that their figures are not highlighted as beautiful. But what sort of figure do men truly find the most attractive — does the curvy form stand above all? And what exactly is “curvy”?

Shape vs. Size

A curvy figure is defined as one without a straight, continuous surface; a curvy woman has a shape which is rounded or contoured. Thus, curvy is a shape rather than a size, as some would believe — a woman can be curvy and thin, or curvy and heavy, and everything in between.

A better indicator of curviness, some say, is bust size (the larger, the curvier) and the Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR): the waist measurement divided by the hip measurement. The ideal WHR is said to be 0.7 or less, usually corresponding to a a hip measurement that is 10 inches larger than the waist. In combination with a larger bust size, this equals the revered hourglass figure, one of the rarest figures in Western society.

Body Mass Index vs Waist-Hip Ratio

If anyone was looking for proof of the reliability of the WHR in determining beauty, many studies have tied the ideal WHR of 0.7 to overall attractiveness, across cultures and centuries. However, other studies suggest that while WHR might be an important factor in judging female attractiveness, overall body size as indicated by the Body Mass Index (BMI) might be just as important, if not more.

In the United Kingdom, a large study containing over 700 men found that, among women of all sizes and shapes, BMI was a better indicator a woman’s being deemed attractive than her WHR. Men were presented with real images of female figures and asked to rate their attractiveness. They found that WHR, in other words, curviness, only accounted for a quarter of a female’s attractiveness rating while BMI was much more indicative. And the most attractive BMI was found to be 20.8 — a lower BMI than most women and roughly equivalent to a trim US size 4.

A smaller study, conducted in the US among male students also found that BMI was a stronger indicator of males’ perception of a female’s attractiveness than WHR. This time WHR accounted for only 2 percent of a female’s attractiveness rating, while BMI accounted for 75 percent. Again, the most attractive BMI was found to be the lower 19-20, on the edge of healthy weight.

Which Wins?

So do men like curvy women or do they prefer thinner figures? It’s likely that many variables must be taken into account and there will never be a definitive answer that stands the test of time and culture. Researchers believe that WHR is a biologically wired feature of attractiveness while BMI is a socially ingrained determinant of attractiveness, hence its leaning towards the more lauded thinner figure.

In the end, no size or shape has ever been considered attractive by all men studied, and an individual’s perceptions may not always be in line with what society believes should be the most attractive figure.

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23 thoughts on “Do Men Like Curvy Women?

  1. What shape and size is preferable for a man to possess? I am sure that BMI is also important, but if women’s hip and waist size are most important then what are the features most important for men? I’m wondering how closely any statistics collected for men would mirror those for women.

  2. Froggie,

    “What shape and size is preferable for a man to possess?”

    The ideal WHR for a man is close to 1.0, in other words a waist that is approximately the same size as the hip, and the shoulders should be broad. But there is another measurement for men — the Chest-Waist Ratio; ideally it would be 1.3-1.4. :D

    “I’m wondering how closely any statistics collected for men would mirror those for women.”

    I didn’t look into these, but that’s a great idea for a future post!

  3. Thank you for the information. The conclusion I’ve reached? “To thine own self be true”. Figure out what feels best for you and work to that goal.

  4. Sherry,

    Agreed. Overall I’d agree it is much more important to feel comfortable about your body type than try to fit an ideal.

  5. It’s cultural. Men claiming to like curvy women are common both here and in the West, but the meaning of “curvy” is different. We have crazy standards and we consider anyone who isn’t really skinny overweight/fat. Megan Fox is considered borderline – she’s still in the hot/curvy category but any kilo/pound more and she’ll be fat. Rihanna is fat. Beyonce and J Lo are obese.

  6. I think men like curvy women who are also slender and that is why BMI is more important than the waist/hip ratio. A woman can have a perfect waist to hip ratio and still be obese, which is not attractive to most men.

    BMI is based on height and weight, but it does not take into account body composition, such as fat tissue vs muscle tissue. Body composition affects body shape. I don’t think that many women would look good at a size four. Maybe the women in the study were short. I think the average height of women in the US is 5’4″.

    I am tall and when I was a size four, most people told me I was too skinny, and my boyfriend thought my face was too gaunt. I had no curves at that size and I was flat-chested. I feel I look best at a size 7/8 because at that weight I have some breasts and my clothes fit better. I don’t pay attention to the BMI. Lately though, I have been thinking of losing weight to get down to a size four or smaller because I think minimal body fat is healthier.

  7. I’m confused by it all. Like Sherry wrote, I do what I feel comfortable and healthy with. Bugger men and their ideals of what’s sexy. Ultimately, and this is reaaaaaaallly true: if a woman feels sexy in her skin, she will exude that sexiness, which will get heads turning. TRUST this, if nothing else. Of course, this should not discourage those who do need to lose weight for health and aesthetic reasons.

    @ Mira, I’ve not been to Serbia or any place in ex-Yugoslavia, but I do work with many “Secondos” whose parents are from that region and also those who came during the war, and for them, I’m ways too skinny(more like that actress Zoe Saldana? ), while a Beyonce or Jlo sized female is perfect in their eyes.

  8. foosrock!

    Maybe older people (in their 40s, 50s?) think so… The younger ones (teens and people in their 20s and 30s) are obsessed with being skinny. Zoe Saldana is considered “normal weight”. Her “problem” is that she doesn’t have huge breasts. Men here are into big boobs, but they want the rest of a woman’s body to be thin. Not many women fit this standard naturally.

  9. Froggie, are you sure about that? :)


    Mira,

    ‘Men claiming to like curvy women are common both here and in the West, but the meaning of “curvy” is different.’

    Oh yes. That’s why I think it’s important to define curvy. It’s a body shape, and not a size, even though size does affect it to some extent.

    “Megan Fox is considered borderline – she’s still in the hot/curvy category but any kilo/pound more and she’ll be fat. Rihanna is fat. Beyonce and J Lo are obese.”

    Rihanna’s not as thin as she once was, but I think her body shape is skewing perceptions of her size. She has big legs/thighs but I’d bet she’s healthy weight on the BMI. Beyonce’s a little bigger.

    I notice that women with certain body shapes (curvy ones, to be exact!) are considered bigger than others even at the same weight. I guess the curves are confused with fat.

  10. Ann,

    “I think men like curvy women who are also slender and that is why BMI is more important than the waist/hip ratio.”

    This would be my guess too (but it’s only a guess!). I also think what is considered slender can vary by culture and region.

    ‘I don’t think that many women would look good at a size four. Maybe the women in the study were short. I think the average height of women in the US is 5’4″. ‘

    I think they were of varying heights since they used random women in the UK of all sizes and weights. The average height for women in the UK is same as the US — 5’4″.

    But size 4 is not that bad? Many celebrities are even smaller than that…Halle Berry is about 5’5″ and was a size 4 at the height of her fame (I think she might be 4-6 now) and she looked fine to me. Truth be told, I’m taller than that and right around a 4 when I eat lots of junk, and I don’t think I am skinny.

    “I am tall and when I was a size four, most people told me I was too skinny, and my boyfriend thought my face was too gaunt. I had no curves at that size and I was flat-chested.”

    How tall are you?

    Oh, in this case size 4 = pants size, not dress size…Some body fat is good, but of course being overfat even at a lower weight is not so good.

  11. foosrock,

    “Ultimately, and this is reaaaaaaallly true: if a woman feels sexy in her skin, she will exude that sexiness”

    I’d agree but it can be difficult to feel comfortable in your skin at all times if your body greatly varies from the praised ideal.


    Nkosazana,

    “Men is going to like what men is going to like.”

    The question is: what do they like? :)

  12. “Oh, in this case size 4 = pants size, not dress size…Some body fat is good, but of course being overfat even at a lower weight is not so good”

    The “problem” is my face. I have a slender face with sharp, defined features. I look like a witch when I get very slim.

    Carrying “extra” weight (if one can really consider a size 7 heavy) makes me look better because it fills out my breasts and face. When I was a size four, I wore padded bras. My flat chest made me feel very unfeminine.

    There is no benefit to being very slim for me. At one time I wanted to be a model, so being skinny was a good thing. But I am not earning lots of money to be thin and worry about what men like. I am not going to lose (or gain) weight to please men. Interestingly enough, people always guess my weight much lower than it actually is. I guess I must have heavy bones and dense muscle tissue.

    Also, remember that the camera adds weight (about ten pounds, supposedly). You have to be underweight to look normal. I wonder if those men would find the women in the photographs just as attractive in person.

  13. `What a man finds sexy is a matter of personal preference. Some men like BIG girls some like curvy some like slender. I have always been attracted to girls around 5’2″ – 5’4″ with a C cup bra size and a neat butt. However how a girl looks is no indication of how sexy she is or how good she is in bed.
    The important factor beyond that initial attraction is all down to keeping up with your pelvic floor exercises especially if you have lost tone through childbirth, that along with a good BJ will keep your man happy.
    My current girlfriend is 5’6″ and is a size 10. She has very slender thighs and waist but has 28 HH cup measurements, she has never had children. She is the first girlfriend I’ve had who is slender with such huge breasts. I like it very much.

    If you are not prepared to keep your man happy you don’t deserve to keep him.

  14. Ann,

    Lol, a witch? I’m sure you don’t look that bad.

    I guess another thing we have to take into account is race. Most men in the US and especially UK are white. So even picking at random we’ll come up with more white men than other men. And I’d say their idea of an attractively sized body is smaller on average than the idea of black or Hispanic men.

    Like I mentioned, my stats are around those or slightly lower, and men find my size attractive. But I do have a curvy shape as opposed to a straight one.

  15. @Froggie,

    You’re a guy: what do you think? Overall, do you prefer curvy, medium weight women like Beyonce or curvy slender women? Or skinny women with very slight curves? :)

  16. Louise,

    Lol. I do often wonder how the ideals intersect with reality. I have a lot things that I’d prefer in a guy but the men I ended up dating could be the total opposite.

  17. MEN RATHER CURVES ON A GIRL I DON’T KNOW WHY THEY JUST FIND IT SEXY . I AM A WOMAN AND I HAVE CURVES WHEN I WOULD RATHER BE SLENDER.

  18. What does it matter any way? Many of our ideas of beauty and shape are a social construction, with most of them being created though psychological manipulation by the media. The Media, which is controlled by international corporations conspire to create this image in our minds so we will buy the products or services they have created to get to this perfection that they claim exists. Every person is beautiful because beauty only exists in the eye of the beholder.

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