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Waist-to-hip ratio and attractiveness in women: addressing confounds

A number of women would be interested in what waist-hip proportions are “ideal” or the most attractive as far as heterosexual men are concerned.  The purpose of this entry is to show that it is meaningful to talk about an attractive range, albeit narrow, of waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) – as far as the preferences of most people [in Western societies] are concerned – rather than a strict value.  In some comparisons, a woman with a slightly thicker waist/higher WHR would be more appealing.  This entry should once again help make the case that beauty does not lie in some simple rules of thumb.

We will need to address some of the major papers published on the topic.

The first major paper was published by Devendra Singh(1; pdf).  Singh showed, using the following drawings, that men rated a WHR of 0.7 to be the most appealing.

Drawings used by Devendra Singh; attractiveness ratings as a function of variation in WHR and body weight.

The drawings above have some problems such as a confound between weight and WHR, and also limited WHR range.  One could also mention that it would have been preferable to use actual pictures of women.

Subsequently, Louis Tassinary and Kristi Hansen(2; pdf) decided to use drawings where there was greater variation in WHR, variation in body weight, and WHR was varied as a function of both waist size and hip size independently.  They used the following image series, and reported that WHR is hardly relevant to attractiveness since attractiveness could be made to either increase or decrease with increasing WHR depending on the body weight, hip size or waist size chosen.

Drawings used by Louis Tassinary and Kristi Hansen; attractiveness ratings as a function of variation in WHR, body weight, waist and hip sizes.

The study by Tassinary and Hansen was subsequently critiqued by Ronald Henss(3; pdf), and also Sybil Streeter and Donald McBurney(4; pdf); both critiques also addressed some of the naïve theoretical assumptions of Tassinary and Hansen.

Henss pointed out the crudeness of the line drawings used by Tassinary and Hansen.  He decided to use pictures of actual women, and varied their WHR by digitally manipulating the waist.  The pictures that he used are shown below.  The middle figure in each series represents the actual picture; the one to its left has a reduced waist and the one on the right has an expanded waist.  Based on the photos, the WHR of the women in front view ranged from 0.7 to 0.79.  The manipulated WHRs ranged from 0.68 to 0.85.  For each of the six women, the lowest WHR was rated the most attractive by the judges.

Photos used by Ronald Henss; variation in WHR and attractiveness.

Streeter and McBurney used the picture of an actual woman, varied the WHR in the picture from 0.5 to 1.2, and varied bust-plus-hip- and waist-sizes independently.  Their picture was taken from Ronald Henss, i.e., it was either one of the above images or something similar.  They asked their participants to estimate the weight of the woman shown, and then adjusted her attractiveness rating with respect to the weight estimate, thereby controlling for a WHR-weight confound.  Tassinary and Hansen’s study had a WHR-weight confound notwithstanding their much more extensive range of drawings.  Streeter and McBurney were able to show that both men and women rated a WHR of 0.7 as the most attractive, after controlling for the weight confound, regardless of whether WHR was varied by changing hip size only or waist size only, though the attractiveness ratings between a WHR range of 0.6 to 0.9 did not vary greatly.  In short, Streeter and McBurney showed that WHR does indeed contribute to female attractiveness; read their paper to understand more of the shortcomings in the study by Tassinary and Hansen.

Tassinary and Hansen, as well as Streeter and McBurney, reported that variation in hip size made a stronger contribution to attractiveness rating than variation is waist size.

On the other hand, Malgorzata Rozmus-Wrzesinska and Boguslaw Pawlowski(5; pdf) showed that Western men are more strongly influenced by waist size than hip size when it comes to rating the attractiveness of women.  These authors used a woman with a WHR of 0.65 and manipulated her WHR from 0.60 to 0.85 by either varying the waist only or the hips only.  Men were asked to rate attractiveness in both front and back views.  When only the waist was manipulated, as shown below, men most strongly preferred a WHR of 0.6.

Varying WHR by manipulating waist size.

When only the hips were manipulated, as shown below, men most strongly preferred a WHR of 0.7.

Varying WHR by manipulating hip size.

The ratings above did not vary between front and back views.  When WHR was varied by altering waist size, the figure with a WHR of 0.6 was rated as the lightest by 90% of the men, but when WHR was varied by altering hip size, 92% of the men rated the figure with a WHR of 0.6 as the heaviest.  Hip size increase beyond a certain point would suggest that the woman is overweight, which would diminish her attractiveness rating, which in turn would explain why a higher WHR was preferred when WHR was varied using the hips only. 

When WHR was varied by manipulating the hips only, the most strongly preferred WHR was 0.9 in Tassinary and Hansen’s study and 0.7 in the study by Streeter and McBurney.  Tassinary and Hansen’s study obviously had multiple shortcomings, as addressed above, but there are two other issues:

  • In the line drawings used by Tassinary and Hansen, they altered the waist and hip dimensions to try to adjust for the fact that the protrusion of the buttocks makes a significant contribution to the hip circumference.  However, this resulted in the front-view WHRs to be lower than what they reported.  In other words, a WHR reported as 0.9 by Tassinary and Hansen does not exceed a value of 0.8 in other studies such as Streeter and McBurney’s.   
  • The male participants in Tassinary and Hansen’s study, and also the study by Streeter and McBurney, had an average age of 18 years, whereas the average age of the participants was in the early- to mid-thirties in the study by Rozmus-Wrzesinska and Pawlowski.  In Rozmus-Wrzesinska and Pawlowski’s study, men in the 20-21 age range, totaling 30, most strongly preferred a WHR of 0.8 when WHR was manipulated by changing hip size only, whereas, as noted above, this value was 0.7 for the entire sample.  In other words, these results suggest that preference varies by age, with younger men preferring higher WHRs than older men when WHR is manipulated by changing hip size only, apparently because younger women are less curvaceous and have smaller hips.  A preference for a low female WHR takes time to develop; from childhood to late adolescence, there is a gradual shift toward a greater proportion of children (both boys and girls) preferring low WHRs in women, first noticeable around puberty(6).


Body weight, waist size, hip size and WHR all make contributions to the attractiveness ratings of women.  If one were to select stimuli where body weight varied greatly but WHR varied to a smaller extent, then it should not be surprising if body weight explains more of the variance in attractiveness ratings than WHR.  Similarly, depending on the stimuli selected, waist size or hip size can make a greater contribution to attractiveness ratings.  These studies generally show that men and women judge female attractiveness similarly. 

Note that in the photos used by Henss, the women do not have physiques as feminine as that of many women in the attractive women section of this site; specifically note their broad rib cages and also their not-too-feminine frames; two of these images were taken from fashion catalogs and the remaining were downloaded from the internet (source not specified).  When one uses the kind of images used by Henss, diminishing WHR to 0.6 by decreasing the waist size can make the woman approach cartoonish looks if the rib cage and other features are not simultaneously altered to reflect the global effects of estrogens, which would prevent WHRs in the 0.60-0.65 range from being rated as more appealing than a WHR of 0.7.  Of course, the lowest manipulated WHR in Henss’ study was 0.68.  Similarly, diminishing WHR toward a value of 0.6 by increasing the hip size of a woman that does not have a feminine frame would make her look overweight quickly, which would once again lead to WHRs closer to 0.7 rather than 0.6 being rated most appealing.

Table 1 shows some lingerie models from the fashion world, with feminine-looking -- some even impressive -- front-view WHRs.  However, how feminine do these women look?  Table 2 shows some glamour models with unimpressive front-view WHRs; compare their overall femininity with that of the lingerie models in Table 1. 

Table 1. Lingerie models (from the fashion world)
Lingerie model Lingerie model Lingerie model
Lingerie model Lingerie model Lingerie model
Lingerie model Lingerie model Lingerie model
Lingerie model Lingerie model Lingerie model

Table 2. Glamour models
Charlotte from model palace Charlotte from model palace Charlotte from model palace
Vanessa from teenrotica Vanessa from teenrotica Vanessa from teenrotica
Julia Cerkonova Julia Cerkonova Julia Cerkonova
Models featured, from top to bottom: Charlotte from model palace, Vanessa from teenrotica and Julia Cerkonova from karupspc.

The overall appearance of the lingerie models in Table 1 is less feminine than that of the glamour models in Table 2, even though the front-view WHRs of the lingerie models are lower.  The lingerie models have more masculine faces, a manlier skeletal frame, greater muscularity, relatively larger hands, etc.  Clearly, very low front-view WHRs are neither necessary nor sufficient when it comes to overall femininity/attractiveness.  On the other hand, if one were to take a feminine glamour model and digitally give her a very feminine WHR, as shown below for Charlotte from Table 2, one would almost certainly observe Western heterosexual male preference for female WHRs closer to 0.65 than 0.7 in studies.  Indeed, in Rozmus-Wrzesinska and Pawlowski’s study, a woman with a WHR of 0.65 was used, and men rated a WHR of 0.6 as most appealing when WHR was manipulated by altering waist size only.  In other words, there is surely nothing magical about a 0.7 WHR preference in Western societies as some would like us to believe. 

Charlotte modified

Table 1 on the eating disorders page cites a study where the WHR of Playboy centerfolds averaged 0.68 and that of fashion models averaged 0.71, and the authors interpreted this to mean that fashion models generally have an hourglass figure!  The same page cites evidence of increasing masculinization in Playboy centerfolds from the 1960s to 2000, i.e., they are not the best choice to contrast fashion models with, and this page also addresses why the 0.71 WHR, if truthfully reported, does not imply a feminine appearance.

The lingerie models shown in Table 1 above once again show just how tolerant gay fashion designers are of femininity in their models.  They know that boyish looks are not appropriate among lingerie models, and they do get non-skinny ones who may also have some curves, but these models generally still don’t look feminine enough [for the job].


  1. Singh, D., Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: role of waist-to-hip ratio, J Pers Soc Psychol, 65, 293 (1993).
  2. Tassinary, L. G., and Hansen, K. A., A critical test of the waist-to-hip ratio hypothesis of female physical attractiveness, Psychol Sci, 9, 150 (1998).
  3. Henss, R., Waist-to-hip ratio and female attractiveness. Evidence from photographic stimuli and methodological considerations, Personal Individ Diff, 28, 501 (2000).
  4. Streeter, S. A., and McBurney, D. H., Waist-hip ratio and attractiveness: new evidence and a critique of a "critical test" Evol Hum Behav, 24, 88 (2003).
  5. Rozmus-Wrzesinska, M., and Pawlowski, B., Men's ratings of female attractiveness are influenced more by changes in female waist size compared with changes in hip size, Biol Psychol, 68, 299 (2005).
  6. Connolly, J. M., Slaughter, V., and Mealey, L., The development of preferences for specific body shapes, J Sex Res, 41, 5 (2004).


maybe men are responding often to th reality that the average women is not smal waisted.. i have seen numerous article s on the subject. From

Fashion Articles and News
The shape of things to wear: scientists identify how women's figures have changed in 50 years
By Helen McCormack
Nov 21, 2005, 09:55

(Independent News & Media) The fashion industry is ignoring the changing shapes of women's bodies, a study claims today. Designers and manufacturers still insist on making clothes that fit the traditional hourglass figure, when women's shapes are more likely to be top-heavy, rectangular or pear-shaped.

The research found that although only 8 per cent of women now had the sort of hourglass figure flaunted by curvaceous 1950s film stars such as Sophia Loren, designers and manufacturers continued to make clothes to fit a slim-line version of that figure.

Of the 6,000 women's body shapes analysed, 46 per cent were described as rectangular, with the waist less than nine inches smaller than the hips or bust. Just over 20 per cent of women were bottom-heavy "spoons", or pear shapes, with hips two inches larger than busts or more, while almost 14 per cent were "inverted triangles" - women whose busts were three or more inches bigger than their hips.

The study, by the North Carolina State University, was based on data from a two-year study of American body types, SizeUSA. It was commissioned by Alva Products, a manufacturer of designers' mannequins determined to force the industry to design clothes for the majority rather than the minority of women.

Janice Wang, the firm's chief executive, said: "The majority of retailers are designing clothes for people with an hourglass figure." She added that industry standards for size measurements were out of date. "That needs to change if the industry wants to serve the markets they currently aren't reaching."

The fashion house Liz Claiborne has taken note. David Baron, a vice-president, said it would introduce "gradual changes" to eventually provide "better-fitting" clothes.

Although the study concentrated on American women, its implications were relevant for British women, Ms Wang said, because eating habits and lifestyle meant the shapes of women in the two societies "mirrored each other".

The British fashion designer Katherine Hamnett agreed that women who did not conform to a svelte size 10 continued to be neglected by fashion.
"The fashion industry ignores the true size of women at its peril," she said. "As to why they do, stupidity is the only reason I can think of. It is the result of adhering unthinkingly to a tradition."

And the idea that larger women are not the ideal to design for is a myth. "I have measured film stars who have 42 inch hips, and are still getting a lot of work. It is not how fat you are, it is whether you are fit that matters. People can be beautiful when they are any shape or size."

Breast enhancements and other types of cosmetic surgery could influence the findings, Ms Hamnett said. With breast enhancements likely to create the "inverted triangle" body type, the popularity of cosmetic surgery means there are new shapes that are less likely to be affected by diet or exercise.

The findings concur with a similar study of British women, SizeUK, published late last year, which found that the average woman's waistline had expanded by six inches since the 1950s.

Carried out by University College London and the London College of Fashion, the study found that women and men had shot up and out, with today's woman taller, with a bigger bust and hips than her 1950s counterpart.


Exemplified by the actress Sophia Loren, only 8 per cent of women tend to have equal hip and bust measurements with a narrow waist

The spoon

Just over 20 per cent of women, like Jennifer Lopez, have a pear-shaped figure, where the hip measurement is larger than the bust


Forty-six per cent of women fit this shape, where the waist is less than nine inches smaller than the hips or bust. Mel C is a good example

Inverted triangle

Another modern outline, where the bust is bigger than the hips. The swimmer Sharron Davies is one of the 14 per cent who fits this shape


My Bust is 36 (i have very prominent breasts) my waist is 27 and my hips are 36. My shoulder width is around 14 cm. What group does my body fall into and is this an ideal beauty? or is my build towards masculinity? Do i have an hourglass figure?

i don't think women who don't have hourglass figures are masculine. i think alot of that stuff depends on ethnicity, diet, lifestyle, etc. if you have broad shoulders--then you may be top heavy. sooo. inverted triangle. but i don't think hourglass---but just think.. angelina jolie has that sort of body. she isn't too shabby.

Laurie: Your measurements do not sound like that of a masculine woman, but large breasts and a 36-inch bust imply a rib cage that should not be too broad assuming that you are somewhat above average height, i.e., a 27-inch waist may be because of excess abdominal fat. You could be a somewhat more feminine-looking version of Charlotte in Table 2, i.e., feminine but not with an hourglass figure. Kristin is right; absence of an hourglass look does not imply masculinity. Email me clear pictures of your physique and I will be able to properly answer your questions. If you are concerned about privacy, blur your face or cut it out of the pictures.

My height is 5"3ish inches tall. My Bust is 36in waist is 27in and my hips are 36 in. My bust and hips are the same in inches. Does this not imply an hourglass figure as i thought bust and hips had to be roughly the same with a smaller waist for an hourglass figure? My shoulder width from one end to the other is 14cm. I have thick thighs. Isnt having feminine an hourglass figure? are my shoulders too broad for my height? I do not want to post in any pictures but based on this informationa lone what can you tell me?

As kirstins hourglass defintion states: equal hip and bust measurments with a narrow wasit.

If i am not an hourglass figure then what is my figure?

i am a fashion fiend and was referencing standards for a hourglass figuure in clothing manufacturing. also using the waist-hip ratio. ideally that would mean 10inchs or more difference between your waist and hips. 9 inchs is sorta cutting it close. i would assume instead of abb fat--that ou are a slim girl who is slightly broader uptop. another person w/ you measurements is raquel welch---who is very foxy. you really shouldn't dwell on this.
as a side note, she is mexican, and many hispanic women are slighlty broader up top. the same i noticed in germanic/nordic women. again--- they are often very pretty regardless.
halle berry has an hourglas figure at 34-21-35. see the difference?

Dear Erik,

I am curious to know what exactly constitues an hourglass figure is it just the bust hip and wasit ratio or is there something more and if so what?


I have very broad shoulders, but i dnt know if my hips are narrow. They seem narrow because of my shoulders. I'm 18 and I was wondering if my hips would still become wider. I think I have baby fat in my arms and my waist, and I don't have a very feminine body.

Kristin: It is highly unlikely that a young-adult Halle Berry had a 21-inch waist. Raquel Welch a Mexican? A young Raquel Welch had a reported waist measurement close to 23 inches and she was a few inches taller than Laurie. Please get your facts correct.

Laurie: Your physique is curvy and does not appear to be masculine based on your description. On the other hand, I am reluctant to describe it as an hourglass figure because of your 27-inch waist. Compare your physique to Maria McBane’s, whose pictures I posted here and here. At 5-foot-3, 19-year-old Maria McBane had reported measurements of 36D-22-36, i.e., an hourglass figure, which is evident from her pictures. You do not have to post your pictures here; just email them to me after cutting out/blurring your face; they will be only seen by me, not posted anywhere. Anyway, please note that an hourglass figure is not an absolute requirement for attractiveness/femininity. Once again, notwithstanding lower front-view WHRs, the women in Table 1 look overall less feminine than those in Table 2 above.

Samantha: An hourglass figure is literally approximating an hourglass in front view, i.e., having prominent breasts, sufficiently wide and rounded hips, and a tiny waist plus small rib cage; see Maria McBane’s pictures referenced above and also these rough examples. The top and bottom of an hourglass have the same circumference, but an upstanding hourglass would look the same in different views if you rotate it about its vertical axis, whereas this is not true of a human figure. Therefore, it is not necessary to have same bust and hip measurements in order to have an hourglass figure. A 5-foot-6 woman that is 34D-23-36 would have a more dramatic hourglass look than a 5-foot-6 woman with a 36C-24-36 physique.

Anon: Your hips will become wider. Broad shoulders by themselves are not a shortcoming with respect to attractiveness, which is assessed by overall looks.

umm--u need to get ur facts straight. ---where do u think she got her lovely tan from???
"Becoming Raquel
After a 40-year career as a sex symbol, Raquel Welch has found her true identity.
By Sandra Márquez

Raquel Welch, one of the world’s most recognizable faces, began her career in Hollywood in the ’60s, when Marilyn Monroe was the gold standard of beauty and studio executives tried to persuade the young “exotic” to change her name and lighten her olive complexion and brown hair.
At home, growing up as Raquel Tejada in the affluent San Diego suburb of La Jolla, she confronted another, silent form of white-washing. Her Bolivian-born father, Armando, an engineer who fell in love with America’s promise of modernity, did not speak of his heritage or allow Spanish to be spoken at home.

After a 40-year career as an international sex symbol, a movie star in films ranging from The Three Musketeers to Legally Blonde and as a Broadway performer, Welch, now 62, paused a few years ago to piece together her true identity. She needed answers to help explain her father’s behavior.

Sitting at home, surrounded by family photographs, she spoke candidly about this journey into memory—and her real life trip last August to her father’s birthplace that helped her recover her buried Latin roots."

these are here measurements when she is not in a girdle---
measurements 37D-26-36. the 23 waists from the days they girdled her in. its like how supposedly bridget bardot had a 19 inch waist---only with a girdle. secondly halle berry is def. more slim waisted. 36C-22-37 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine) is her measurements when she is more out of shape. for the role in catwoman is was 34c/d-21-35, again according to celebrity sleuth and a host of publications. they love to brag on her stats.


I appreciate your grouping together these various studies and this page does indeed address the WHR confound concisely.

All things being EQUAL, it seems like a low WHR is considered the most attractive among most people, but it is obviously just part of a total "beauty package" that includes waist size, hip size, weight, overall femininity, and other diverse factors. Therefore, a woman with a low WHR is not necessarily more attractive than one with a more average WHR (perhaps within certain confines) and there is no hard and fast rule about WHR as it pertains to attractiveness.

To that end, I asked a couple of my male "lifetime heterosexual" friends to look at three photos on this site...and they did seem more than willing to critique photos of naked women!

Two women stood out in my mind as having dramatic WHRs...almost shockingly so...Miss Sweden on your Skinny Fashion Models page..and Marika, one of your Attractive Women. I had them compare those two women with Angelina Valinurova, whom I found to be very average in the WHR category. Both men ranked Angelina as more attractive, due mainly to breast size, legs, and a cuter face overall: That's not to say they wouldn't prefer a more dramatic and lower WHR in Angelina..only that Angelina's other features trumped the hourglass figures of the other two women in this particular evaluation.

Kristin: I have my facts straight about Raquel Welch. She was born in the U.S. to an American mother of Irish ancestry and a father from Bolivia. How does this make her a Mexican? Judging by her face shape, her father probably had substantial European ancestry, though I haven’t seen his picture. I have heard that Raquel’s father was Jewish, i.e., someone possessing a notable Southern European element, which could be the factor making a sizable contribution to the olive complexion of Raquel. I doubt that Raquel has more than a small contribution from Native Americans in her or it would show in her face.

Halle Berry at about 5-foot-7 and looks like this and this is unlikely to have had a 21-inch waist. On the other hand, the magazine that you have mentioned cited a 26-inch waist when Raquel was 43-years-old. The waist size of a young-adult Raquel, prior to childbirth, needs to be considered, and it was easily in the neighborhood of 23 inches. Anyway, the reported measurements of these actresses vary; their pictures are more valuable for judgment, and the front-view waist-hip proportions of Raquel look more feminine than an age-matched Halle’s.

Sandy: I, too, find Angelina Valinurova overall more appealing than Marika and the Swedish beauty queen Caroline Zonath; in my view of the physiques of these women, Zonath’s slenderness counts against her and Marika’s [a little too much] muscle and bone mass counts against her.


why what is wrong with the 27 inch measurment of my waist? it is 9 inches less than my breast size isnt thta what is require dto have an hourglass figure?

what would you describe my physique as? am i a triangle? oval? what shape is my body?

Laurie: Nothing is wrong with a 27-inch waist on a 5-foot-3 frame. It is just that for a dramatic hourglass effect, the body in between the breasts and hips needs to be narrow, as in the example of Maria McBane above. Shapes such as triangles and ovals do not really apply to a description of the overall physique, and with same-circumference breasts and hips plus a narrower waist, your physique is closer to an hourglass rather than a pear- or apple-shaped body. As Kristin has already noted, your physique from the perspective of dress designers is an hourglass physique; after all, most dresses are not supposed to be skin tight. Your physique description is that of a curvaceous woman, and you should consider yourself to have an hourglass physique. My emphasis on having a narrow mid-section is in the context of high standards with respect to feminine beauty.

Your reluctant to describe it as an hourglass figure because of the 27inch waist however at the same time however from the perspective of dress designers is hourglass and you say i should consider myself too have an hourglass figure but not in the context of high standards. How small does the waist have to be and on what basis to do you come to this conclusion?


I gain alot of weight around my stomach, thighs and waist area would this likely change the shape of my body? can againing weight change the shape of your body?


Alot of what you have said about not having to have the exact same bust and hip measurments to have an hourglass figure i.e your example of how a woman of 5"6 with more unequal bust and hip measurments would have a more dramatic hourglass look to that of a woman with the same height but with exact bust and hip measurments clearly highlights how deceptive the whole issue of apperances is.

Laurie: In the context of high standards, for your height, your waist should not be exceeding 24 inches, and should preferably be 22-23 inches. Look at Maria McBane again. Does your physique look like hers? Anyway, you should not be concerned if you do not meet high standards; most women don’t.

Anon: Appearances can indeed be deceptive, but what you mention isn’t an example of deception. If you rotate an hourglass in the transverse plane, it will look the same from any angle, but this is not true of the human body, and since the hourglass approximation applies to front view only, it is thereby not necessary for waist and hip circumference to be the same.

Yes, gaining weight changes the shape of one’s body to some extent, depending on the weight gain, but there is definitely something known as unhealthy weight gain, which would be excessive fat in the abdominal region. When you gain body fat, if you have a tendency to disproportionately pack on fat in the abdominal region, then it would not be medically advisable to deliberately overeat in order to pack more fat into your breasts, buttocks and upper thigh region. The only solutions that I can think of require drastic measures such as taking estrogens (prescription drug; estrogens favor deposition of fat in breasts, buttocks and upper thighs) or surgically removing some of the fat tissue in your abdominal region so that overeating results in less gain of abdominal mass compared to what you would gain otherwise (I am not sure how successful this would be).

the one picture you used of halle displays the ablity to hide curves with airbrushing, studio lighting, and posing---as the media tries to fit even feminine women into the beauty standard designated by the fashion industry.
here is some help.

if you took into consideration how much thinner tshe is than raquel or most other curvy women, her waist line would make sense. while some of your information is interesting, you lack the knowledge of a woman's proportions that a actual woman would know,. as a side note, the reason why on paper, fashion models have .7 whr is they lie--- they all lie. its an industry standard. i know girls who did runway. in person, some are shaped JUST LIKE MEN. they need the hips taken in to fit into women's jeans. they actually are shaped more like 33-27-34. its an industry standard, but what counts is that they can fit into a eu34---which in certain high-end lines, means a 28 inch waist anyway. balenciaga is a great example.

also, by dressmaking standards a hourglass figure has ATLEAST A 10 INCH DIFFERENCE. PROBABLY MORE LIKE 13.


you still did not answer my question on what basis do you come to this conclusion? what factual evidence? is it just a case of a 24 inch waist looks more like an hourglass figure?


when im slim as in very slim my waist measures around 25 inches however the more weight i gain my waist measurment slightly increases its now 26 inches so basically what your saying is the dramaticness of an hourglass figure can be changed through weight gain or weight loss ofcourse the physical bpody sturcture itself not being able to change.

Kristin: You mentioned that Halle Berry had a 21-inch waist in the movie Catwoman. Now that I have cited two pictures of her from this movie, you say that airbrushing, studio lighting and posing tricks have been used to make her look less feminine. How do you know this? And why would someone do this? The comic character that the movie is based on is supposed to have a very feminine physique. For some strange reason the director cast a non-white woman as Catwoman, but why would anyone want to make her look less feminine? The small pictures you cited are too obscure, and in the big ones it looks like a corset is being used to squeeze her mid-section. Regarding the stated waist measurements of fashion models, there may be an unwritten industry rule to lie in a specified manner, but unless there is proof, this will remain mere speculation; these women may not have narrow waists in front view, but in side view they are very narrow because of little body fat.

Laurie: I already gave you a basis: Maria McBane’s physique. Your physique is unlikely to look as dramatic as hers given her 5-inch smaller waist circumference. Obviously, a narrower mid-section will present a more notable hourglass effect.

Anon: The extent of body is fat is obviously relevant to presenting a feminine look. Gaining an inch on the waist is not a problem if you correspondingly gain an appreciable amount of fat in your breasts and other places relevant to femininity.


Maria mcbanes figure looks normal to me, nothing dramitic about it. Perhaps its because a too narrow waist has the opposite effect it is supposed to have i.e reduce femininity? I mean her waist may look slim and the phsyique and curves may be more noticble but if the waist looks too slim the look would be too fragile, wouldnt a thicker waist measument give a more dramatic look than a too slim waist?


I found this entry to be interesting since I just officially measured myself for the first time today (my prom is coming up and I needed to shop for a dress).

Anyways, I am 17 years old, and I have more of a small and petite figure. I'm 5'1, and weigh somewhere between 87 to 91 pounds, as it fluctuates a lot. I measured myself today but I'm not exactly sure if I got the correct measurements since I used a measuring tape that's for constructing, and not one of those cloth ones that are typically used when measuring your body. I was also unsure if you were supposed to measure loosely or tightly?

Well these were my measurements I got: 30-23-31.

Just out of curiosity.. would that be considered more rectangular or hourglass? I did the calculations and my waist to hip ratio is about 0.74. I would say I was more in the middle, but I'm not too sure.

hello eric

i asked a question before, (the 18 yr old). sorry if it's trivial.

u said that my hips would get wider. do u mean that in the skeletal sense? or will just they become wider because more fat will be deposited there as i get older?


Laurie: A waist that is somewhat thicker than a borderline-cartoonish small waist may look better, but Maria McBane’s waist isn’t too small, and her physique would look more dramatic if she had a smaller ribcage, i.e., had a 34D bust at age 19. It would be difficult to describe your physique as dramatic in the context of high-standards feminine beauty.

S.H.: Measurements using a tape measure should be snug, i.e., not too much slack or constriction should be involved. If you have an A-cup and not sufficiently wide hips, then your physique will be closer to a tubular look (what you call rectangular) than an hourglass, but if you have sufficiently wide hips, especially if you also have a B-cup, then it will be in the middle of a tubular physique and an hourglass physique. Good luck with your prom.

Anon: Your hips will become somewhat wider due to skeletal growth also.


I gain alot of weight around the backs of my thighs and also the abdominal/stomach region. When I gain weight my thighs do get thicker and also my breast size does slightly increase so if i gained alot of weight I would like to know will this incease the dramaticness of an hourglass figure if say in the waist region the waist size doesnt not dramitically increase in size i.e the upper and lower parts of the bodies gain extra weight but the waist size does gain weight but not as much would this not make a more prominent hourglass figure? In such instances ands in general how much does an hourglass figure look depend more on weight that on just a basic skeletol structure? because i presonalyl believe that weight gain and loss does play a huge part in the look than just skeltol sturcture alone.

Samantha: Whether it would be advisable to gain fat in the abdominal region in order to also gain fat elsewhere and make your breasts and buttocks more prominent depends on your physique, and I don’t know how it looks. For instance, compare woman 1 to woman 2 and woman 3. Heterosexual men strongly attracted to woman 1 will often not be strongly attracted to woman 3, and vice versa. I prefer woman 1 to woman 2 and woman 3 because a tiny waist is more important to me than large breasts. Additionally, unless you are slender, weight gain may diminish your appeal. It is difficult to advise you without looking at your physique.


Yes I am slender and would like to gain weight in order to look and also feel internally better. My question was if i gain alot of weight and most goes on the backs of my thighs and around the breast area but the waist area is not dramatically effected would this kind of weight gain change an hourglass apperance in any dramatic respect? would it look better? My waist at its slimest can be around 24 inches but at its normal is around 25 and as i gain weight especially in the abdominal area it can measure 26 inches and over.


As you address the bodys physical structure relating to femininity.What is your opinion of the ideas about the relationship of plumpness and fleshyness to feminity.

Samantha: Women are fleshier/plumper in terms of body fat than men, but the range of body fat level that would appeal to most men is a subset of the medically normal range; look at the diagrams in this study and note the look most appealing to men in the age range you are most interested in. If you are a white female, you would be best advised to keep your BMI in the low twenties; the BMI is the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. If you are a tall woman, then acquiring a 26-inch waist would not be a problem if you correspondingly gain an appreciable amount of fat in the bust and hips, but stick with 25 if you are short. Questions like yours are best answered after a photographic evaluation. You should consider emailing me your pictures, obscuring/cutting out the face if you wish.


What i wanted to know was if i gain weight and my waist generally stays the same size but i gain weight on my thighs and breasts alot then would this make a more dramatic hourglass figure look?


I am really fascinated by all this! What I was wondering though: for the bust measurement is it standard to add the 4-5 inches as is widely practiced in bra fitting? Or is the measurement taken straight from the body? I have always wondered this!

Dear erik,

What do you think of the past Miss India Aishwarya rai supposedly the most beautiful woman in the world. Is she masculine or feminine and what about her body shape?

Samantha: Given that you have described your physique as slim, if you gain weight such that your waist size doesn’t change much but you gain an appreciable amount of body fat in your breasts, hips and thighs, then yes, you will acquire a more dramatic hourglass look.

Designer: A bust circumference measurement would simply measure the chest circumference at the level where the breasts are fullest. However, a bust measurement with respect to finding the right bra size is a different matter since it requires the measurement of rib cage circumference; here is the detailed procedure.

Barry: Aishwarya Rai looks decent, but she is not an example of feminine beauty. With respect to masculinity-femininity, she is normal. Her face may look feminine in some pictures, mostly from her twenties and especially if they are airbrushed, but her physique is not feminine.

To see that this site is hosted by a guy gives me the creeps!

Ladies, what are you doing? Listening to a straight guy tell you that instead of being a size 0 and trying to look like an adolescent boy for the gay guys, you don't possess feminine beauty unless you have a WHR of 7 and a certain face! Hour glass figures are about as rare as a healthy size 0!

It's one thing to know men's opinion. Like on, it's fun to see men's opinions -- but this site is flat-out scary! This is no opinion, this is a prescription!

We may like men, but we don't need men -- gay or straight -- to "bless" our beauty or put us in these impossible boxes! Here's the first clue --if a guy even starts talking like this, run!



I am surprised you say aishwarya rais physique is not feminine it looks feminine enough from most of the pictures I have seen of her unless they have been aisbrused to such a degree to change her phsyique too as i have never seen her in real life.

thanks erik that is what i wanted to know

Angela: What is creepy about this site and why would it be less creepy if women were behind it? Read carefully, the alleged ideal WHR of 0.7 is critiqued above. If feminine beauty is not common, this is how it is in nature; I am not responsible for it. Don’t blame me for conveying this message. There is no prescription here, but an educational attempt geared toward bringing more feminine and attractive women in the limelight. Besides, no guy would talk to a woman in real life as in the article above; I certainly haven’t.

Barry: Look carefully at Aishwarya Rai’s pictures, especially shoulder-width to hip-width ratio, width of rib cage, flattened backside, etc. She is not feminine. I could illustrate by posting her pictures, but it would open this entry to a flood of abuse by her fans, and there are a lot of them! Send me an email and I could email relevant pictures to you.

I had a look at some more pictures of her erik and i see what you mean she has a very odd shape figure

Then you're fine with women creating an identical website prescribing what size, length, circumference, circumcized or uncircumcized, bent or straight and proper head shape your penis should be, and proclaim that as THE definition of masculine? And if you don't meet the criteria, you are not masculine, and then state we are just conveying the message of what masculine is according to nature?

Yeah right!

thanks erik. i thought that the bust measurement you were talking about was the ribcage measurement, rather than the actual circumference where the bust is the fullest.

on a side point i think its interesting how many people take this site personally, when to me it just seems like an objective observation. from a young age, i always knew i was 'sexy' but that i wasnt 'beautiful' like the fashion models - i always knew there was a difference and i think this site has an interesting perspective on that.

i think though, that the reasoning that fashion models have masculine features to their physique is because it is the gay fashion designer's preference is not the whole story. in a photo, masculine features give a more striking angles and more interesting shapes, generally looking more dramatic than women with feminine features. obtaining a striking and dramatic looking image is the aim of the fashion industry, which is more about making a statement, or making art rather than about attractive women. many top designers and model agencies openly comment that the industry is more interested in androgenous or 'unlikely'/'unconventional' beauty because it is more interesting, there can be debate about it. fashion, like any kind of art, is about exploring and questioning the world, and in fashion we see a lot of questions being asked about the nature of beauty, just like how this site points out.

i think that the point is that whether you are a feminine woman (closer to hourglass) or one who has more masculine features (like the fashion models) is not a point of one is good and one is bad!! if you are a masculine woman you can still be more pretty or beautiful than a feminine woman!! theres good points to both, just like there is bad points to both. the sooner we accept that, the sooner we become happy with what we've got and the easier it is to accept our differences and celebrate our uniqueness.

Angela: I am totally fine with women coming up with a comparable site telling men that they are not masculine unless their phallus conforms to a certain size and shape. I could even help these women by directing them to literature about masculinity-femininity in men. The site would also be more interesting on one important count, namely that it is more challenging to figure out who is a more masculine man in a number of cases. After all, an overall less masculine man could end up with larger muscles than an overall more masculine man by regularly lifting heavy weights or taking anabolic androgenic steroids. Human growth hormone supplementation can even make facial bones grow so as to add a more masculine look to the face without making the supplement taker more masculine. In addition, beyond a certain amount of testosterone exposure, male fetuses may end up developmentally disturbed and manifest a strange mix of hypermasculine, feminine, hypomasculine and normally masculine features. Interesting, isn’t it? You have my blessings to set up a site on masculinity among males.

Designer: Is the masculinization of high-fashion models partly explained by it resulting in more interesting and dramatic looks? Who finds the resulting fashion imagery more “interesting” and “dramatic”? Certainly not most people, a number of whom are disturbed by the looks of high-fashion models. “Unlikely/unconventional beauty” comes in many forms that will never be seen as the norm among high-fashion models; why does the standard of unconventionality bear an uncanny resemblance to the looks of adolescent boys? Anyway, you are right that a more masculine woman can be more attractive than a more feminine woman in some cases.

Erik: purely from an artistic point of view the shapes of faces in fashion and cosmetic ads using female models with masculine features give angles that are interesting. like you said on some pages of this site, the faces of feminine women are more rounded, with cheekbones not as prominent. this may be more attractive, but for many feminine looking faces means there are less chiselled angles for the photographer to capture. to me it is the difference between taking a photo of a fluffy lamb which may be very cute but is not as striking or interesting visually as a crocodile or armadillo.

i agree that the appearance of some current fashion models is disturbing, but i am wondering why you think that other forms of unconventional beauty will never be the norm in the fashion industy. all it takes is for someone to see something in a new way, and to take that look and build it into something saleable.

on that point, i have to wonder if the female models look masculine because they are selling to a primary audience of women. i have heard it commented that many male models are slightly feminine so maybe this is because they are being marketed to men. in fact i saw a male model in a magazine the other day that was strikingly female, so much so that it was almost a shock to see it. but then, if something is shocking our eyes are drawn to it, and we remember it and isnt this what sales and advertising is all about? i certainly found the look of the male model in question disturbing, but then when i think about fashion i see it as a make believe world, not like the real world in any way, it is more like an out of reach fantasy which represents the desirability and perfection of the product. maybe it does represent a warped reality where men look like women and women look like men, but i think this demonstrates how valuable the fashion industry can be in exploring our perceptions of the world around us.

i also have to wonder what would happen to the fashion industry if purely feminine models were used. given the low percentage of true hourglass figures in the population would more women be alienated by truly feminine models than those that are currently used?

Designer: Fashion models are selling clothes, and their facial features are not important in ads. Even if a chiseled look to a face is required, one could find women with this look that are not more than slightly masculine, but gay fashion designers will usually desire a greater level of masculinity. As long as the fashion industry is dominated by homosexual men, why would the industry be switching toward an alternative form of unconventional looks? The skinny and masculine unconventional looks reflect the aesthetic preferences of the dominant gay fashion designers, not looks that help sales. Men and women judge female attractiveness similarly; see the references in this comment. Therefore, it is surely not the case that the looks of high-fashion models reflect the fact that they are selling to women. Also, in controlled laboratory settings, exposure to images of skinny high-fashion models has generally been found to worsen the body image of women. What is the bright idea behind using models with looks at sharp odds with the preferences of women in general and also looks that disturb many women? There is no bright idea; it is simply a matter of gay fashion designers getting away with their aesthetic preferences because they dominate the fashion business.

I know that there are some effeminate male models, but it is the gay fashion designers again, a number of whom find adolescent boys appealing, but such models are not likely to become very common anytime soon since the gays wouldn’t be able to get away with it. If feminine women were used as high-fashion models, whereas some women would not be pleased, appreciation for feminine beauty is intrinsically harbored by most women, i.e., they would be much less disturbed than by the use of skinny high-fashion models.


i disagree that facial features are not important in ads. it is often said that the face is what sells.

i agree with the bulk of this site, i think you have identified an interesting and significant perspective on the appreciation of feminine beauty, but i want to know why do you complain about the domination of the fashion industry by gay men? many women will vouch that gay men are some of the best people to go shopping with because of their eye for fashion and style. i think it is salient to note that fashion is not solely about making oneself attractive to men (though this might have been the case in the 40s and 50s, when models had hourglass physiques to show off feminine styled clothing) but it is about creating 'a look'.

i think your site is valuable in helping people realise that the fashion industry is not a showcase of feminine beauty and as such helping women not to be alienated by the models, but i think it is us who need to change our perceptions of the fashion industry, rather than the fashion industry that needs to change. the fashion industry is not the one that says 'you should look like this', it is people's own minds that say that. couture is about creating a garment, gown or look of interest and beauty, not about dressing up beautiful women. the fashion industry never claimed to be about the most beautiful women in the world - it is and always will be about the most beautiful clothes in the world.

maybe the trend towards using masculinised models is down to the growing acceptability of being openly gay rather than any sickness in society or the fashion industry. i think your problem with the industry misses the point and takes on a personal dimension at odds with the objectivity of the site. isnt it the craving to be like others rather than just being ourselves the real sickness here?

what is feminine is feminine but what is feminine will not necesserily be beautifull when you look at the final picture i.e when you come to the final conclusion about beauty.

I mean what good is an hourglass figure with an ugly face and what good is an ugly body with a beautifull face.

exactly whats the big deal about a curvy body if the rest or the whole of ya is ugly!

James / Andrew: Overall looks are important to attractiveness and being attractive on one count but unattractive on others will diminish overall attractiveness, but this entry is specifically concerned with waist-hip proportions, not overall looks. Sex hormones have a global effect, and a woman with a feminine physique will also tend to have a feminine face, and facial femininity is a powerful correlate of facial beauty in women. In other words, if the body is beautiful, then the face will also tend to be beautiful though this is far from guaranteed.

Designer: The face is not necessarily unimportant in ads, but we are specifically talking about ads selling clothes. If you were to ask fashion industry reps to explain the odd looks of high-fashion models, they will give you the “clothes hangar” excuse. Facial features are not very important for “clothes hangars.” Besides, please take a look at the faces of the current top-50 high-fashion models and ask yourself if they have the facial features that would more strongly persuade women in general to buy clothing.

The answer why I have a problem with the gay domination of the fashion industry is that this is responsible for 1) the skinny and masculine norm among high-fashion models, which prompts numerous girls and women to diet unnecessarily and thereby undermine their health, fertility and fecundity, and 2) the absence of feminine beauty in the limelight; I have explained the details on the FAQ page, in the answer to this question.

I agree that the purpose of women’s fashion is not solely to make women more attractive to men, something that need not be relevant at all, but the typical looks of high-fashion models cannot be justified by any need other than the aesthetic preferences of gay fashion designers. Do you seriously believe that the use of feminine and attractive women cannot create a “look”?

You are mistaken about the fashion industry never claiming to be about the most beautiful women in the world. The industry primarily uses models that gay fashion designers regard to be the most beautiful in the world. For instance, homosexual designer Tom Ford has called boyish Natalia Vodianova the most beautiful woman in the world. Didier Grumbach, head of the Chambre Syndicale, the body that governs French fashion, has said, "Let the health ministry take care of health problems, and let fashion designers choose models according to their taste."

Regarding the fashion industry not saying “you should look like this,” here are some relevant quotes:


“Since we are in the business of fashion, we create aspirational images and it’s important that we project health as a part of beauty,” Von Furstenberg (CFDA President) said at a discussion on the issue held during New York’s fashion week. My response here.

Homosexual designer Stefano Gabbana: “Women have to understand that the models on the catwalk or in the magazines are aspirational models of beauty and youth, who give us an incentive to take care of ourselves, to better ourselves - but not examples to copy.” How are women supposed to better themselves by not copying high-fashion models? Are high-fashion models aspirational models of beauty and youth? To whom? See more of the context.

Of course, the growing acceptability of homosexuality has allowed gay fashion designers to increasingly bring, in the second half of the twentieth century, the norm among high-fashion models closer to their aesthetic preference for an adolescent-boy look. There is no societal sickness implicated; people are not sick for wanting something regarded as highly desirable, as in designer clothing. Girls who come to believe that given the high status of high-fashion models, surely people in general find their looks to be of aesthetic merit or these models wouldn’t end up occupying the highest status among female models are not at fault. It is very clear who are at fault, and pertaining to sickness, I will leave it to you to figure out how normal it is for men to be attracted to adolescent boys.

I used to have the hourglass shape. My waist to hip ratio used to be a 0.7 My friends told me so. But these supernatural forces said they made my figure less attractive in a miracle. Now my waist to hip ratio is a 0.8- which sucks! My waist is now 28 inches and my hips are 35 inches. That is not curvy anymore and it's less feminine. I am furious! Some say it's because I gained weight but I only gained 8 lbs. And besides I think the waist to hip ratio doesn't change when women gain weight. For example- a woman with 24 inch waist/36 inch hips and a woman with 28 inch waist/40 inch hips are equally attractive because they have the same waist to hip ratio. A 0.7 waist to hip ratio means the waist is 70% if the hips. When women gain weight they gain weight in the same proportions. I am 5ft 0 in tall and 110 lbs by the way. What do you think happened? I think this change in my body wasn't natural- a miracle from the supernatural forces made this change.

When women gain weight their waist to hip ratio doesn't change because they gain weight in the same proportions. So I think gaining weight doesn't cause a women to lose her curves. But I lost my curves. That's why I think this change in my figure isn't natural and the supernatural forces changed my figure in a miracle.

Anonymous: Use a different pseudonym. I believe you are joking. Anyway, it is a mistake to believe that gaining weight does not alter WHR. When food intake exceeds the body’s needs, women vary with respect to the proportion of body fat deposited in the abdominal region and the hips region. In addition, WHR by itself is not sufficient to characterize the attractiveness of the waist-hip region as the discussion above clearly shows. If you increase the size of both the waist and hips and keep WHR constant, the woman will appear to be heavier and beyond a certain point, this will undermine her attractiveness. WHR tends to increase with childbirth and aging. You have not provided any information about your age or how long it took for your WHR to increase by 0.1 or whether this increase occurred after childbirth.