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Male and Female Physical Ideals


Here is an exerpt I found from a Psychology course I was enrolled in last year. I found it very interesting and wanted to share.

From Evolutionary Psychology: The Origins of Human Behavior
By Jack A. Palmer, Linda K. Palmer



The Masculine Ideal

We can construct a hypothetical ideal man who would have universal appeal as a mate choice for the average woman. The ideal man is kind and understanding, suggesting that he will tend to meet the needs of his mate and children above his own selfish needs and willingly channel his resources and energy into them. He is intelligent, creative, and adaptable. These are traits that have an obvious adaptive payoff in the competitive, rapidly changing environment of human society. He has good health and an overall good physical package. He has good bilateral symmetry, but not perfect symmetry because it has been somewhat compromised by the effects of androgens. The production of androgens, such as testosterone, in utero, causes a slight perturbation in the general development of symmetry. However, since testosterone produces functional adaptations in men, women tend to weigh these effects against perfect symmetry in assessing masculine beauty. A large jaw, heavy brow, broad shoulders, and above-average upper body musculature are some of the androgen-related characteristics that women look for in males. The ideal man also has a waist to hip ratio of about 0.9, and is above average in height.

The ideal man displays indicators that he either has resources or is capable of obtaining resources. Consequently, he is industrious, well educated, and ambitious. Resource holdings can also be thought of in terms of prestige and power, and thus the idea man is one who is high in status. This ideal man is a few years older than his prospective mate, which probably relates indirectly to status and the ability to acquire resources.

Finally, the ideal man demonstrates dependability and stability. He is willing to commit himself, his resources, and his energy to his mate and to the children he fathers. He demonstrates fidelity to his spouse, and he is a devoted parent to his children. In sum, he is a protector, a supporter, and a nurturer of his spouse and children. He is not only willing to do these things, but most importantly, is capable of doing them.

The Feminine Ideal

The ideal woman is also kind and understanding as well as intelligent. With regard to her physical package, she also displays high levels of symmetry in body and face. She has a delicate jaw, full lips, and a body that is softly curving rather than angular, all good indicators of appropriate estrogen levels. She has a waist to hip ratio of around 0.7, indicating that her hips are wide enough to successfully bear children, while her smaller wasitline indicates that she is not currently pregnant. Her overall soft curvaciousness and rounded feminine breasts indicate that she has good levels of circulating estrogens and that she carries the requisite amount of gynoid fat to insure a successful gestation period and a year of lactation. Her clear, unblemished skin is an additional indicator of good health. She has an exciting personality and nurturing qualities indicating that she would be a good parent. She also has qualities indicating commitment and loyalty, and can be relied upon to be a faithful spouse. The mate of this ideal woman will be assured that any children she bears will be his, that they will have good genes, and that she will provide excellent parenting for them.


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