Preferred Women’s Waist-to-Hip Ratio (Variation over the Last 2,500 Years)

Researchers Jeanne Bovet, [left] and Michel Raymond [right] of the Institute of the Evolutionary Sciences department, University of Montpellier, France, have been examining pictures of Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. They point out that :

“The ratio between the body circumference at the waist and the hips (or WHR) is a secondary sexual trait that is unique to humans and is well known to influence men’s mate preferences.”

But has this always been so? To make steps towards finding out, the team attempted to peer back 2500 years – first by seeking out and measuring antique artistic depictions, and then …

“These vestiges of the past feminine ideal were […] compared to more recent symbols of beauty: Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. ”

The conclusions :

“In this study, we demonstrated that the WHR of women considered as symbols of beauty did not vary during the antiquity period (500 BCE — 400 CE) and decreased since (at least) the 15th century in western societies. A closer analysis of Playboy models and Miss pageant winners’ measurements from 1920 to 2014 revealed a reduction, or even a reversion, of this WHR decrease. The universality of one preferred WHR is thus challenged, and the evolution of men’s preferences could be linked to demographic, economic, health or social changes in western societies, which are older than the mass media growth of the 20th century.”

See: Preferred Women’s Waist-to-Hip Ratio Variation over the Last 2,500 Years PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123284.

The authors also provide a table which informs, for example, that the statuette Aphrodite of Amisos [shown above] from the late 1st century BC/early 1st century AD (Anon.) features a (corrected) WHR of 0.733.