Human Nature

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 51–65 | Cite as

Ethnic and gender consensus for the effect of waist-to-hip ratio on judgment of women’s attractiveness

  • Devendra Singh
  • Suwardi Luis


The western consensus is that obese women are considered attractive by Afro-Americans and by many societies from nonwestern developing countries. This belief rests mainly on results of nonstandardized surveys dealing only with body weight and size, ignoring body fat distribution. The anatomical distribution of female body fat as measured by the ratio of waist to hip circumference (WHR) is related to reproductive age, fertility, and risk for various major diseases and thus might play a role in judgment of attractiveness. Previous research (Singh 1993a, 1993b) has shown that in the United States Caucasian men and women judge female figures with feminine WHRs as attractive and healthy. To investigate whether young Indonesian and Afro-American men and women rate such figures similarly, female figures representing three body sizes (underweight, normal weight, and overweight) and four WHRs (two feminine and two masculine) were used. Results show that neither Indonesian nor Afro-American subjects judge overweight figures as attractive and healthy regardless of the size of WHR. They judged normal weight figures with feminine WHRs as most attractive, healthy, and youthful. The consensus on women’s attractiveness among Indonesian, Afro-American, and U.S. Caucasian male and female subjects suggests that various cultural groups have similar criteria for judging the ideal woman’s shape.

Key words

Body fat distribution Female physical attractiveness Gynoid fat Health Ideal woman’s shape Mate selection Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Devendra Singh
    • 1
  • Suwardi Luis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TexasAustin

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