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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Objectification Is Not Equal Opportunity

male-objectificationHaving previously discussed objectification of women and the female beauty bind, I was once asked the question, “What about men? Shouldn’t men be included in this topic? To which my first thought was “Yes, what about them?”

In the interest of fairness (or in other cases, diversion), some believe that the increasing sexual objectification of men should be considered along with the well-known issue of female objectification. After all, there are male strippers and prostitutes, the bodybuilding industry is held afloat almost entirely by men, and plastic surgery among men is at an all-time high. This is true — more than ever before, men are being judged and assessed for how well their appearance fits a certain beauty standard.

However, objectification, and particularly sexual objectification requires that a person be seen as simply a vessel or a painting — to be admired primarily or solely for their beauty and the physical pleasure it brings, with no regard to their humanity. Are men made into objects whose worth is based on their looks? Perhaps on an individual basis, but on a wider scale, my answer would be no.

Appearance may matter, but other factors come into play in determining whether a man is “high value” or not. Personality, confidence, education, and of course career and income. All of these factors can and do override a man’s physical appearance, and looks are not generally considered more important. The same simply can not be said for women and their daily experiences.

On the other hand, as a group, women are sexually objectified — that is, their sexual attractiveness and beauty (or subjective lack of) is considered to be one of the more important aspects of their being, if not the most important. Personality, charm, and other attributes are considered later, if ever. Any woman knows this; regardless of any personal accomplishments, the first question to be asked is, “But is she good-looking?” If the answer is no, then everything else about her falls by the wayside. If the answer is yes, then again, all other traits are overshadowed. That is the definition of objectification.

So again, what about men? Male sexual objectification is on the rise, and shouldn’t be dismissed. Men getting regular eyebrow waxes and pedicures can be considered a topic of interest. But the issue is simply nowhere near that of women — there are more pressing issues for men in today’s society. In other words, sexual objectification is not equal opportunity.

What do you think — agree or disagree? Share your thoughts below.

Are Men More Visual Than Women?

men-visual
It’s one of those things that everybody knows — men are more visual than women. The proof is all around us. Pornography caters to men as their most loyal consumers, some studies show physical attractiveness of their partner is more important to men’s happiness than women’s. The physical just matters to men.

Meanwhile women are more attracted to a man’s personality, such as his sense of humor, and his ability to provide and be a good father to their potential children. Evidence for this is seen in women’s willingness to happily engage in relationships with men who aren’t generally considered the most physically appealing.

But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong, as it has been in the past? What if the idea of men being more visual has little basis in reality, or what if the gender inequalities in visual arousal have their origins in culture and society, not in biology? When looked at critically, there are several reasons why the commonly accepted idea that men are innately more visual should be questioned:

1. There is greater social acceptance and encouragement for men to value physical appearance

Historically women needed to value more than a man’s appearance. Since they couldn’t have jobs that would sustain themselves and any family they would have, women had to look to a man’s financial ability and ability as a father when choosing a mate. Men who were more financially stable could focus on other qualities in a potential mate, such as their physical appearance.

Nowadays women have more career opportunities. But differences in society’s appraisal of the genders remain — men are still expected to be able to provide financially for their wives and family. And women are still expected to be pretty enough to secure a marriage with the most financially able man.

2. Some studies challenge the idea that men are more visual

Most studies that gain popularity reinforce conventional wisdom. Thus there are easily found studies which support the idea that men are more visually stimulated than women are. Much rarely discussed are the studies which conflict with this notion.

One of the more recent studies on gender and visual stimulation found that women are as visually responsive as men are. In the study, the brains of female participants showed as much activity as the male participants when shown sexually erotic images. Researchers responded that although men might personally rate sexual images higher than women do, there was no difference in their brain activity when viewing them.

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The Halo Effect

halo-effect

The Halo Effect is a social phenomenon where perception of one trait or behavior of a person influences judgment of other, unrelated traits. In interpersonal relationships it takes the form of perceiving one aspect of a person as “good”, then later judging other characteristics and possibly even their entire being as good.

It also commonly takes the opposite form: if a person’s behavior or traits in one area are perceived as “bad”, then they are seen as bad in other areas, if not an overall bad person. In this case it is known as the Reverse Halo Effect.

The Halo Effect can be seen in everyday life, yet most people don’t recognize it even when it is pointed out to them.  The Halo Effect is used in cases where something is known about a person but other traits are not — people generalize their perception of this one characteristic to other traits.

It is also thought that the Halo Effect arises to avoid cognitive dissonance. People have a difficult time holding the idea of someone as good in one area, and bad in another, or vice versa. To create a consistent impression and relieve this pressure they simply see the person as all bad or all good.

Physical Attractiveness

A common example of The Halo Effect is the perception of physically attractive people as good, virtuous, or intelligent. People who are judged by others as physically appealing are generally given other positive attributes and more leeway than people who are judged to be average or below average in appearance.

It has been shown that people judge their partners as more attractive than others rate their partners. But people also rate their partners as kinder and smarter than others rate them, and kinder and smarter (and more physically attractive) than people they aren’t intimately involved with.

This might seem to be harmless or positive, but partners’ are unable to see each other objectively. Worse, when the Reverse Halo Effect occurs with one’s partner, relationships hit a dead-end due to negative evaluations on both sides.

barack-obama-haloThe Social Scene

People who are viewed as charismatic or popular tend to be rated highly in other areas as well (On the other hand, people lacking in such traits aren’t seen well as a whole). This creates a feedback mechanism whereby a person who is perceived as well-liked and favored gains more applause and appreciation.

The Halo Effect has been used to describe United States’ President Barack Obama’s rise to success and popular approval. As well as his later drastic plunge in public favor.

The president’s public speaking ability, confidence, and good looks helped to increase his nationwide approval via the Halo Effect. Despite not having the political clout of others, his social favor helped grant him the highest office of the country.

Enter the Reverse Halo Effect. The president’s inability to satisfy some of the desires of those who initially approved of him caused his overall approval to decline. What was once a slight disappointment among supporters turned into the largest decline in approval of any president in the last half century, with predictions of it dropping even further.

In other words, beware the Halo Effect.

Do you notice your use of the Halo Effect? Have you ever seen the Halo Effect in process?

Unattractive Features in Men

Disclaimer: Some may take offense to this post. As always, my goal with this article is to be honest.

We know now what women find physically attractive in men, but what do they find unattractive?

Physical attractiveness is not only subjective, but holistic — an attractive man is more than the sum of his attractive parts. But generally speaking, some features detract from the looks of a guy, instead of adding to them. Luckily, many of these features are not inherent to men and can be changed:

body-builder

1. Muscular

Why are so many men convinced that being muscular will increase their appeal to women? There is such a thing as being too muscular. Some muscles on men is attractive — a toned body is attractive. However, men who can pass for bodybuilders increase their risk of being passed over, for less muscular men. Too much muscles distorts the natural body shape.

russell-brand-hair

2.  Very Long/Ungroomed Hair

Hair can also enhance the appearance of a guy, but it does the opposite if it isn’t taken care of or if it’s too long. The message women get is that personal hygiene is not high on the guy’s list of priorities.

man-tattoos

3. Many Tattoos

Unless the man is Travis Barker, arms, chest, or a face covered in tattoos is hardly attractive. How can it be — no one can actually see whichever body part they are covering. None or few tattoos is best.

man-long-beard

4. Overgrown Beard

See number 2.

beer-gut

5. Beer Gut

Men are not exempt from keeping up their personal fitness and health. A stomach that is only rivaled by a woman in her last trimester of pregnancy is simply unattractive.

Which features do you find the most unattractive in men?

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Profiles of the Emotionally Unavailable: The Ten

vain-man

Also known as the number one Hot Guy ™ or Hot Girl ™.

To some known as suffers of the Beautiful (Wo)man Syndrome.

The Ten

The Ten is the person whose great looks have carried them through life, and as a result, they never fully developed their personalities or inner life. The Ten learned early on that their physical appearance was the greatest asset they had to offer other people. They reacted to this message by further developing themselves physically, not mentally, and certainly not emotionally.

The Ten relies on the alluring power of their good looks to draw people to them. All beautiful people are not Tens, but all Tens are beautiful people. The Ten is unique in that they keep their emotional distance. Their relationships are based on appearance primarily, if not only, so they never have to actually connect with anyone, including their partner. Why should they? People stay around anyway because they’re gorgeous.

The Ten Plus You

Everyone loves the Ten, and they are rarely without a relationship. And if you begin a relationship with the Ten, your role is quite simple — adore, compliment, and complement the Ten. You must make sure the Ten remains confident in their appearance, and make sure that you serve as a good backdrop to their all-encompassing beauty.

You, like most people, are fine with this role at first. You feel proud and accomplished that you have such a good-looking person as a significant other. You see people look at you with jealousy or admiration as you walk by with your Ten. You can’t help but feel pleased.

But eventually this thrill gets old. You wonder where this relationship is going. You realize that you don’t really know the Ten and you want to get closer. You’re no longer satisfied with being their figurative or literal mirror holder. But the Ten has little to offer you. Since they never developed themselves emotionally, they are emotionally unavailable to you, themselves, and everyone else. Instead of an emotional connection, all you get is more shine and beauty.

The Ten Minus You

You might decide to end your relationship with the Ten, but more likely the Ten will decide to end their relationship with you. Either way, when your relationship with the Ten ends, your self-esteem may suffer a bit. Especially if you’re quickly replaced (a likely scenario since many are waiting for their chance with the Ten). You might wonder if you were ever worthy of the Ten — were you attractive enough? It’s tough being the ex of a Ten.

But what you should really be wondering is how lucky you are. Now you are free to find someone who can offer you more than physical beauty, someone who can offer you the emotional closeness that you need.

The Ten’s emotionally unavailability has nothing to do with you and everything to do with themselves. The Ten may never self-examine and connect with their inner self as closely as they have connected with their outer self. Until they do, they can’t have a full relationship with someone else. But that’s no longer your problem.

Have you ever been involved with a Ten?

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  • Profiles of the Emotionally Unavailable:

Women and the Beauty Bind

woman-foot-chainsThe beauty bind is the dilemma that nearly every woman around the world, young or old, past or present, faces in their life. You probably already know a lot about the beauty bind or at least have some experience with it. The beauty binds refers to the fact that women are judged on their appearance no matter what. Whether the judgment is positive, negative, or neutral, there is no avoiding it.

Times have changed somewhat — the modern man also has to deal with being judged on his physical appearance. But his physical appearance is not used as a gauge of his worth and value as a person. Unlike men, who can be considered desirable based on other traits — a remarkable personality or bank account — a woman is judged mainly (and sometimes only) on her looks. Other parts of her may be considered, but only once her appearance is assessed for its worthiness.

The beauty bind is inescapable because whether or not a woman chooses to play the beauty game she is a contestant. And whether she is deemed attractive or not, her looks are used as a way give to or take away from her womanhood.

The Unattractive

A woman who is considered unattractive is denied her full femininity and power as a woman. She can be as intelligent and interesting as she wants, but if her physical appearance is judged as lacking, she is judged as lacking. After all, a true woman is pretty and feminine.

If she is particularly accomplished, her looks become a way to take away from her achievements. She is ridiculed and portrayed as less than — she might be worldly successful, but she’s still an ugly woman and that evens the score. Men and women alike are reassured by this and take solace in the fact that she doesn’t have it all.

The Beautiful

A woman who is assessed as particularly beautiful is also denied her full womanhood. She is made into a caricature and is not taken as seriously. Her looks are made the primary focus of her being; nothing else is as important. Others assume she has cruised by in life and doesn’t have much to offer besides good looks. Any successes she has are viewed in light of her physical appearance and given lesser value.

Although the beautiful woman is given certain advantages, she is also disadvantaged. Men and women envy the advantages she is given and women, who are also caught in the beauty bind, judge her even more harshly than men do. They too want to be considered part of the Beautiful Elite, but if they can’t, they can have some power over beautiful women by becoming their worst critics.

Few people discuss the beauty bind as it has become woven into the fabric that makes up most societies and is viewed as normal. But some people recognized that the major results of the beauty bind are not so beautiful. Self-objectification, female competition, and self-worth issues abound.

So what is the key to releasing women from the beauty bind? Well, that remains to be seen. In the meantime you could ask yourself if and how you contribute to the beauty binding of yourself or others.

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Top Ten Most Underrated Men (2011)

Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Denzel Washington.

Overrated.

In the world of celebrity men, the same names are mentioned over and over again as ideals of masculine good looks. But what about the famous men who are rarely mentioned? Are they any competition for the reigning Most Gorgeous Men?

Yes, and more.

Here are my choices for the most underrated gorgeous celebrity men, for the 2011 year. As always, feel free to make suggestions.

noah-mills

1. Noah Mills is an American model. He is best known for his work with Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace.

If you didn’t know him before, now you know.

alex-pettyfer

2. Alex Pettyfer is an English actor and model. He appeared in the 2011 film Beastly, a modern spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast. He has modeled for the Gap and Burberry.

Photos say it all.

adam-scott

3. Adam Scott is an Australian professional golfer. He won the PGA Tour Championship in 2006 and tied for second place at the Master’s Tournament in 2011.

Adam won About.com’s 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards for Sexiest Male Golfer. But it’s golf — how many people know about individual golfers? He is underrated by default.

matthew-gray-gubler

4. Matthew Gray Gubler is an American actor, former model, and sketch artist. He plays the genius and geek Dr. Spencer Reid on the TV show Criminals Minds. He is also a director — he directed and produced the Killers’ music video for “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”.

Matthew isn’t as underrated as others on this list — people are beginning to notice his particular brand of geek chic.

tyson-ritter

5. Tyson Ritter is an American musician and lead singer of the rock band The All-American Rejects, known for such songs as “Gives You Hell” and “Move Along”.

Tyson’s style is pretty unconventional to say the least, but underneath that he has classic good looks.

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Physical Attractiveness in Relationships

physical-attractiveness-relationshipsLet’s try this again — slightly revised.

How important is the physical appearance of a partner or potential partner? Do levels of physical attractiveness play a small, moderate, or large part in determining who you would consider a potential mate or how happy you are with your current partner?

Physical attraction is an important factor in my choice of mates. I can not date, let alone have a long-term relationship with someone I don’t find physically attractive. Other aspects such as mental compatibility and general personality are taken into account, but the physical appearance of a person is as strong an influence.

It is widely believed that physical attractiveness plays a key role in the creation of new relationships. The way a person looks is often the first thing you notice about them, long before you learn of their personality and character, and their looks can be the reason you initiate contact or not. This idea has been given more weight due to studies with results that support.

Generally in new relationships, partners are matched in terms of relative physical attractiveness. And the more attractive their partner is, the more satisfied a person is in their relationships. Men place a higher significance on the physical attractiveness of their partner, than do women although women still count the physical appearance of their partner as important. Overall, physical attractiveness has a positive effect in new relationships — the higher it is, relatively speaking, the better both partners rate their relationship.

But what happens when a relationship is no longer new? Does physical appearance still play such a crucial part in the stability and happiness of an established relationship such as marriage?

It turns out that physical attractiveness is still connected to levels of happiness and stability in marriage, but not nearly as much as in less established relationships. Also, the importance of physical attraction, and its effects, differ based on gender.

In one study, husbands who were rated as more attractive than their wives by outsiders tended to be less satisfied with their marriage, and behaved negatively in their marriages. In contrast, in marriages where wives were rated as more attractive than their husbands, both partners behaved positively and were more happy. There was no noticeable effect if both partners were similarly attractive.

Taken together, studies on physical attractiveness in relationships and marriage suggest several ideas. One idea is that physical attractiveness is  highly important in new relationships, and less so in established relationships. Yet, physical attractiveness remains as important for men in terms of satisfaction in their relationships.

One thing which is certain is that physical attraction, and a partner’s physical attractiveness, is significant to the health and happiness of a relationship.

How important is physical attractiveness in your relationships? Was physical appeal a major reason for your attraction to your partner or past partner?

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Self-Objectification

plastic-surgery-womanAre you preoccupied with your appearance? Do you think that the way you look is more important than anything else about yourself?

Self-objectification is the psychological phenomenon of seeing oneself from an outsider’s perspective, as an object to be viewed — like a painting on a wall. Self-objectification is more than a healthy attention to appearance. People who self-objectify take on a third person’s view of themselves. They consistently and carefully watch their appearance,  measuring themselves against an idealized and often unattainable standard of beauty and body image. It is more common for women to be self-objectifiers.

The Causes

Self-objectification results from an image-driven culture. It is not only the media that encourages people to see themselves as objects first, and subjects second, but their immediate surroundings. Family, friends, and strangers alike contribute to the mentality by placing priority on looks. Women, especially, learn early on that their appearance is vital to social acceptance — it determines whether they are loved or scorned.

Furthermore, in most cultures, women are shown and viewed as objects of desire, particularly male desire. Some women internalize this idea to the extent that they begin to see themselves through an outsider’s eyes, and take on the opinion that it is the primary purpose of a woman to look beautiful and attract men.

  • Relationships

For many women, relationships and love are tied to physical appearance. The better a woman looks, the more likely she is to be loved by men and be chosen for a relationship. Thus relationships can be a major cause of self-objectification in women.

A study involving young women found that thoughts of relationships can cause greater self-objectification. In single women, this effect was most clear — they were more likely to rank parts of their body as important to themselves after being presented with words about relationships.

Women who were in relationships did not respond the same way. In fact, after being presented with words about relationships, they were more likely to rank parts of their body as less important. This suggests that insecurities about relationships and ability to attract increases self-objectification.

  • Media

Much research has shown that there is a strong correlation between  level of media exposure and self-objectification. Women who regularly read magazines, watch TV, and consume other forms of media are more likely to rate their appearance as most important, and are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and depression.

The Effects

Self-objectification is said to be a cause of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, depression, and general anxiety. People who self-objectify never truly feel happy with themselves and their appearance. Others may think they look fine, but the self-objectifier suffers from body shame and relentlessly finds fault with their looks. Because they see themselves as objects to be acted upon, some may go to extreme measures to alter their appearance to fit the ideal. Permanent physical alterations such as plastic surgery are considered a basic requirement to the severe self-objectifier. Dieting to unhealthy weights is the norm.

If you find yourself paying excessive attention to your looks, it is best to recognize this tendency for what it is. Find the roots of this behavior in yourself and stop them: quit reading so many magazines, turn off the television. If people in your immediate environment are the cause, lessen your attention to them. If not, your increasing fault-finding could develop into something more serious.

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