And so begins Part Two of...
We like a girl with a slim waist and childbearing hips. Add a decent-sized pair of breasts and you've got yourself a gorgeous hourglass figure. Why do we like this figure best? Because it makes more babies.
Biologists tell us that the higher the variance between a woman's hip and waist measurements, the more fertile she's likely to be. These proportions indicate good estrogen production and a healthy level of body fat.
So what’s the magic number at work here? 0.7. This, apparently, is the ideal Waist-to-Hip Ratio in women; the one indicating highest fertility.
To work out your WHR, just divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. (Inches or centimetres - the proportion will be the same.) They say the average western woman's ratio is 0.82. Our number goes up as we get older, or fatter, or, apparently, if we experience high levels of stress. It goes up if our bodies produce extra testosterone.
The key point here is that it’s not really about weight, but about proportion. If you’re majorly overweight, of course your WHR will tend toward 1 as the fat tries to find somewhere, anywhere, to cling to. But you can be plump and very well-proportioned – and very attractive.
Hips widen during puberty; they widen during pregnancy; they contract slowly as we age.
So there you have it. Stay hip. Don't let yourself waist away.
(Oh... oh, did I really just write that? I'm sorry.)
the golden ratio
So there's this big mathematical deal about the ratio 1:1.618. These proportions, when applied in a visual context, produce results of great aesthetic beauty.
(click to embiggen the beautiful images)
For thousands of years, doctors, biologists, mathematicians and artists have built careers based on what is called "The Golden Ratio" (sometimes "The Divine Proportion" or other such highfallutin' variations). And a reconstructive surgeon named Stephen Marquardt used the ratio to design a contour mask of the female face. This mask was applied over a person's features to see how well they conformed to "conventions of beauty".
Marquardt's mask has been heavily criticised for a number of reasons. For one, the mask displays a slight overbite, but it is healthier and more conventional for the jaw to be more evenly aligned. For another, although the mask is meant to be a representation of the female face, it appears somewhat "masculinised", with a low brow, squarish chin and more angular bone structure. It's also not a great fit for ethnic backgrounds other than Caucasian.
So either Marquardt got his calculations wrong, or perhaps you just can't expect one equation to solve absolutely everything.
Still, though, that equation does a pretty good job describing many relative measurements of the human body. On a body of "good" proportions (that is, one prefered in models and the like), the navel marks the midpoint between one side of the ratio and the other. The tip of the nose: midpoint for the face. And so on.
Now this all gets me quite gloomy because I have annoyingly short legs and I don't fit the diagram.
Well, that about wraps it up for beauty. And now that you know the rules, you can go forth and break the hell out of 'em.
I mean, look - all this stuff I've been talking about, there's no point trying to tell me it ain't true. The facts are there for you to see. But. But. It's only true for half a second.
Until she opens her mouth.
Sure, humans are a product of biology, but we're not bound to it by any means. We've moved beyond the physical. We retain the instincts of our ancestors, but add to them our knowledge, experience, judgement, and the original, conscious thoughts that we generate every moment of our waking days. When we choose our sexual partners, we don't just take one look and go for it. (Unless drunk.) We fall in love with our minds, not our eyes.
Still, a nice pair of tits don't hurt.