Science has confirmed that there’s a double standard operating for men and women when it comes to body fat.
Both genders consider an unhealthily low body fat content for women as attractive, according to the latest research conducted in Australia.
However, for men, a body with a normal body fat content is considered attractive.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, used new techniques to measure different body shapes associated with different levels of fat and muscle.
“We found that both male and female participants chose significantly less fat mass to optimise the attractiveness of women’s bodies than to optimise the healthy appearance of women’s bodies,” says lead author Mary-Ellen Brierley from Macquarie University’s Department of Psychology.
“For men’s bodies, participants opted for a similar amount of muscle and fat mass to optimise attractiveness and healthy appearance.”
The healthy body fat range for young Caucasian women is 21% to 33%, according to previous health studies.
The participants in the study seemed to think a healthy-looking body for women had around 19% fat and a most attractive-looking body type of just 16%.
This suggests that while previous studies have found that smaller female body size generally corresponds to a greater perceived attractiveness, this observation is actually due to people’s preference for lower fat mass, rather than lower muscle mass or smaller body size in general.
The manipulated female and male bodies in the study were of all of Caucasian appearance between the ages of 18 to 30.
Perceptions of face and body attractiveness are thought to reflect the health and fertility of a person.
However, this latest study suggests something else is also influencing the perceived attractiveness of women.
The study authors says this could be that cultural ideas of the “thin ideal” are driving down people’s perceptions of attractive body fat levels in women.
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