CosBeauty is the #BeautyAddict's guide to lifestyle, health and beauty in Australia.
In this issue:
- The Breast Report - your guide to augmentation
- Put an end to bad hair days
- 24 hour makeup, products that last
- Sex appeal - do you have it?
FEATURE MATHEMATICS OF BEAUTY Could being attractive be less in the eye of the beholder and more to do with a mathematical equation involving our waist and hip measurements? It’s human nature to want to know whether we’re attractive and how we can make ourselves more appealing. But a new study suggests that to sum our real assets all we need to do is an easy sum. So perhaps beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder, it comes down the far less subjective mathematical equation. It has been found a woman’s attractiveness relates to the size of her waist compared with her hips. Scientists have discovered the ratio they say makes for the perfect fi gure. A waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of 0.7, or a waist measurement at 70 per cent of the hip circumference, is the magic number. New Zealand anthropologist Barnaby Dixson set out to fi nd what makes a woman attractive to men. A group of volunteers were presented with various pictures of a woman in which her bust, waist and hips had been digitally altered and asked to rate the image for attractiveness. Infra-red cameras tracked their eyes as they looked at the photos. Although most were initially drawn to the woman’s cleavage, her hips and waist were key to attraction. Perennially curvy beauties like Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Jessica Alba and Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio are all examples of the perfect ratio. Interestingly though, it isn’t a ratio dependent on curves or lack there of, it’s all simply proportion of the waist to hips. (So interestingly waif-like Kate Moss also matches up to the ideal WHR of 0.7. The concept and signifi cance of WHR as an indicator of attractiveness was fi rst theorised by psychologist Devendra Singh in 1993, who argued that the WHR was a consistent oestrogen marker. Some researchers have found that the waist-hip ratio is a signifi cant measure of female attractiveness, although this has been found to be dependent on cultural values. Women with a 0.7 WHR are usually rated as more attractive by men from European cultures, while China favours a WHR of 0.6 which rose to 0.8 or 0.9 in parts of South America and Africa. However, the attractiveness of the hourglass fi gure holds true across countries and cultures. Research shows. Men across the world can all agree – from the UK, Cameroon, Germany and China, to New Zealand. German research released last year indicated an hourglass fi gure to be more attractive than even athletic types or long-legged, big-chested ‘Barbies’. It is thought that a small waist-to-hip ratio is equated in the mind with good health and high fertility. ‘It is likely that perfect 0.7 ratio sends a biological signal to men that this woman is most fertile and most likely to produce a healthy offspring, no matter what size that woman is,’ says Dr Dixson. ‘It is all about the distribution of fat which is directly linked to fertility.’ In fact, it looks like we’re all encouraged to celebrate our curvy bits according to the research data. Dr Dixson says men were wasting their time pumping iron in the gym because women have indicated they invariably prefer a leaner, less muscle-bound physique. ‘On a biological level, women are more likely to pick a leaner, even slightly more effeminate man as they equate those physical traits with being more caring and gentle and therefore a better prospect as a partner,’ he explains. ‘Humans simply do not mate randomly.’
Blonde vs brunette It’s an age-old debate that had even Charles Darwin stumped – he couldn’t find any acceptable reason men might prefer blondes. Since Darwin’s time, however, there have been a few advancements in the science behind hair preference. Blonde hair is thought to be an indicator of youth and sexual vitality, but a recent study, which attempted to determine the most beautiful woman in the world, picked a brunette, and a 2011 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology found brunettes are generally considered more attractive. Makeup & attraction Women who wear makeup appear more trustworthy, likeable and competent – not to mention attractive – to those around them, or so a relatively recent study tells us. ‘As we have evolved, the brain has become capable of making complex social judgments on some very basic visual cues,’ says Dr Arnaud Aubert, an experimental psychologist and associate professor in the department of neurosciences at the Universitè François-Rabelais, France. These visual cues typically revolve around the idea of attractiveness and trustworthiness, elements that the right style of makeup can certainly assist with. ‘First you see the face and then, after a quick visual decoding, a signal is relayed to the limbic area of the brain where an emotional level is assigned to what you have seen – either pleasant or unpleasant,’ Dr Aubert says. ‘This information is then translated to the forebrain where it’s decided whether the face is trustworthy or untrustworthy. The whole process is carried out almost instantaneously.’ By minimising flaws and enhancing our best features, makeup – when applied effectively – can make for a more “pleasant” translation process. Highlighter and illuminator, for instance, can detract from a larger nose, while the right shade of lip colour can go a long way in boosting that first impression. ‘All the social information is in the centre of the face,’ Dr Aubert explains. ‘If the brain is distracted by imperfections, it processes less and so has a weaker social assessment of the person it is looking at.’ A study conducted by Harvard University with Proctor and Gamble supports Aubert’s findings. Participants of the study were asked to rate how likeable, trustworthy and competent particular women were, based on their makeup. They were presented with images of women with no makeup, and then the same women made up in different ways – natural, professional and glamorous. One participant group was shown the images for a couple of seconds and the other group could inspect the images for as long as they liked. Lead author and assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard University, Nancy Etcoff explains the effects of makeup were the same, regardless of length of exposure. ‘When flashed quickly, every cosmetic look significantly increased how attractive, competent, likeable and trustworthy the faces appeared to the same faces without makeup,’ she says. ‘When people could look at the faces as long as they wanted to, all makeup looks increased competence and attractiveness once again.’ CBM www.cosbeauty.com.au 41