The Surprising Way Your Posture Can Affect Your Attractiveness

Take a look at any posed group photo of women, and pay attention to which one catches your eye the most. There's a good chance she may be arching her back a little. Some might assume this is because of the shoes she's wearing, but a 2017 study from the University of Minho points to an older — and less fashion-oriented — reason.

Researchers at the Portugal-based university asked a group of 50 female participants and 32 male participants to rate the attractiveness of various 3-D models of women's torsos. In each example the spine was curved at a different, though natural, angle.

Both groups rated models with a more pronounced curve to their spines as more attractive. They also preferred views that showed the rear and rear-side of the model, but eye tracking revealed different focal points based on the participants' gender. Men looked longer at the models' butts, while women focused on the models' waists.

As reported in Newsweek, lead researcher Farid Pazhoohi believes this may explain why high heels are associated with beauty. It turns out that among other animals, the same sort of spinal curve is an indication that the female is willing to mate or at least be courted. The researchers theorize that the same is true of human women. They also suggest that the curve of the spine might be subconsciously associated with the posture of pregnant women, and from there to the idea of fertility.

The reasons aren't so cut and dry

Researchers are also quick to point out that such conclusions might be premature. "Our results should be interpreted with respect to the limitations of the current research," -states a disclaimer they added for good reason. A 2015 study conducted by David M.G. Lewis seemed to show opposite results, as noted by Pazhoohi in the 2017 study. Pazhoohi states this could be due to differing methods, but other possibilities could have affected the conflicting outcomes, such as the size and average age of the participant pool, as well as current beauty standards that may affect what participants see as attractive.

Researchers in the 2017 study didn't note why participants focused on the areas that they did, only where their eyes lingered the longest. They also did not make note of the participants' sexual orientation, which could affect their reactions.

The findings are far from concrete. But they do highlight one thing that anyone with a good pair of stilettos has long suspected: The right pair of heels can turn heads. Now there's proof of where exactly all that attention goes.