The Waist-Hip-Ratio, Midrift, Breasts and Buttocks In Female Physical Attractiveness
Christopher Philip

The sexiness of the female waist-hip-ratio has certainly not been understudied. It is well known that men universally prefer women whose waist is 30%-40% smaller than her hips (including the buttocks).

Men and women’s bodies are different (sexually dimorphic). Men tend to be more mesomorphic and muscular. Women tend to add larger stores of body fat in the breast, hips, thighs and buttocks. These differences are largely shaped by the sex hormones estrogen, and in men, testosterone. A low WHR ratio is consistent with an earlier onset of menarch in girls and a regular menstrual cycle. Additionally, women with low WHR and large breasts have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone which produces higher rates of conception. Women’s WHR also tends to increase with age likely due to lower levels of estrogen. Therefore evaluation has favoured women with low WHR as a signal of sexual maturity, health and fecundity.

To advance the research on WHR, a team of researchers led by Barnaby Dixson, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand had men view images of women and tracked the movements and fixation of their eyes.

In the study, images were presented front or back-posed of women with varying waist-to-hip ratios.

It was found that regardless of how the bodies were presented, front or back, men still rated women with a 0.7 WHR as most attractive.

When images were presented back-posed visual fixations occurred within a short 200 milliseconds of the eye-tracking session and usually fixated on the midriff and buttocks. In the front-posed images, fixations usually began at the breast with attention shifting to the midriffs that scored higher on WHR.

“The results of the current study suggest that in the case of female attractiveness and WHR, the midriff is, in fact, an important region that appears to be judged in relation to surrounding features, such as the breasts and buttocks,” say the researchers in their paper.

Further, the “hourglass shape” of women is a key area of focus. When WHR fell in line with men’s attractiveness perceptions, that is, the WHR fell within the 0.7 ratio, men shifted their attention more easily to other part of the body including the breast. However, in women with a higher WHR (the least attractive), men dwelled more on this area suggesting that men attend to this area more often overall.

The results support the idea that WHR is a “first-pass filter.” That is, men’s eyes quickly scan this area (within 200 ms) and then gaze more freely around the body only when a body has “passed” this visual test.

The study is yet more support for the idea that WHR is one of the single most important features in female attractiveness. The WHR is an “unambiguous signal of female gender, health, fertility, and attractiveness.”

The take-away message is quite clear. Women should focus on this area if they wish to attract men of higher quality, as this, above any other physical feature, is what will be judged foremost by men. While other features, like breasts and buttocks also add appeal to the female body, the WHR is the one for which all others forms the benchmark.


Dixson, Barnaby J. Dixson; Gina M. Grimshaw; Wayne L. Linklater and Alan F. Dixson. Watching the Hourglass Eye Tracking Reveals Men’s Appreciation of the Female Form. Hum Nat. 2010. 21:355–370. DOI 10.1007/s12110-010-9100-6