It’s long been known that previous research on western societies has shown how the body’s shape (the waist-to-hip ratio–WHR) relates to judgments of women’s attractiveness. Compared to “tubular” figures, “hourglass” figures tended to be judged more favourably in western societies. Perceived attractiveness between the sexes has now beeen established as “the result of the compatibility of biological sex and gendered cues”, that’s to say: masculinity and femininity as specified within the society.

According to a study cited in Science Daily, researchers suggest that if their model is applied to cultures with different definitions for the social roles of men and women, results will show cross-cultural differences in the particular combinations of body cues deemed attractive.

My own research undertaken by ‘straw poll’ amongst a few African communities when I  was working in Malawi a couple of years back brought about some amusing and interesting experiences. With much hilarity, the fellas unanimously voted for a “traditional” female body shape as being the most attractive. I soon got to learn that ‘traditional’ for ALL those communities with whom I mixed was their code for a woman with ample proportions and a good-sized backside. 

I think I’d better move continents!