Science Says This Female Body Type Is Most Attractive To Men

It's an age-old question of what female body shape men find most attractive. Beyond just looking at influencers on TikTok or combing the pages of popular women's magazines, the answer actually goes further than the runways.

Research on ideal body types and misconceptions is a hot topic. Admittedly, the notion of an ideal body type ultimately comes down to personal preference; after all, not every man will like the same body type. However, a number of studies suggest that there is a female body shape that most men prefer — and surprisingly, it's not the typical body found on the pages of a Victoria's Secret catalog. Interestingly, the findings also point to evolution and survival of the species playing a more significant role in attraction than most may realize. 

Take a deeper dive into research studies dissecting the female body shape and size that are the most attractive to men. You might be surprised — or maybe not — by what science has to say.

Research shows that men prefer an 'hourglass' figure

An article published in Eye on Psi Chi discussed findings from a study which found that men are most attracted to women with a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.70 (i.e., the waist is approximately 30% narrower than their hips). This may not just be a modern-day fad, either: According to study author Dr. Devendra Singh, it may be a built-in biological preference. He told Evie Magazine, "The evidence summarized in this paper demolishes the myth that beauty is ever-changing, skin-deep, and superficial. The attractiveness judgment based on figures defined by waist-to-hip ratio is a robust phenomenon evident in various cultures."

Women with a lower waist-to-hip ratio were also ranked highest in attractiveness by men in a speed dating experiment, according to a 2020 study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science. A total of 539 first-year psychology students (275 of which were female) participated in the study; after each date, the researchers asked them to rate their partner's body, face, personality, and overall attractiveness. Interestingly, it wasn't just the hip ratio that men seemed to rank high in the experiment; women who were taller than average got top marks. This appears to follow modern beauty conventions, with models and influencers working to make themselves appear taller than they truly are. In addition to body shape, body mass index (BMI) was also a factor. 

Men appear to prefer women with a 'healthy' BMI

Celebrity magazines and pop culture may make you think that men prefer thinner women with a lower body mass index (BMI). However, a 2020 study in the British Journal of Psychology found that men prefer women with a BMI that falls between 23.01 and 23.46. Per the Cleveland Clinic, a healthy female BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9, depending on a number of factors.

According to the authors of the 2020 study, they found that "men and women chose similar opposite-sex body shapes to optimize health and attractiveness. Although these results align with sexual selection theories, they are [sic] run contrary to some previous reports." The study was conducted on European men, but also cited other research indicating that men in Malaysia and Australia preferred women with lower BMIs. But it also clarified that the numbers from these additional studies could have been skewed.

So, why do men find these specific characteristics attractive?

According to 2019 research published in Evolution and Human Behavior, women who possess an hourglass figure are likely deemed more attractive by men because their low waist-to-hip ratio suggests that they are young and have not been previously pregnant. As study author William D. Lassek, a researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara, explained to PsyPost, "Because evolution depends entirely on individual success in reproducing, anything to do with reproduction, such as choosing a mate, should be optimized by natural selection." He added that women with low waist-to-hip ratios registered higher levels of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a crucial nutrient in infant brain development.

Lassek also noted that the findings contradict a longstanding notion about men's preferences: "For the past 30 years the explanation for male preferences that has generally been accepted is that they look for signs of health and fertility, but we have shown that the very small waist sizes and low BMIs linked with attractiveness in well-nourished women do not indicate better health or fertility." 

With that said, it's important to remember that society's idea of the "perfect female body" has changed throughout the years — and that physical attractiveness is only part of the package.