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Men's preferences for women's profile waist-to-hip ratio, breast size, and ethnic group in Britain and South Africa


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Viren Swami, Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, London W1B 2UW, UK (e-mail:


One particular aspect of the literature on preferences for female body shapes has focused on the purported universality of preferences for a low waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), despite substantial evidence of cross-cultural variability in such preferences. In the present study, we examined the effects of manipulating women's profile WHR, breast size, and ethnicity on men's ratings of physical attractiveness and health. A total of 51 African men in South Africa, 56 British Africans, and 114 British Caucasians rated 12 line drawings that varied in two levels of ethnicity, three levels of WHR, and two levels of breast size. Overall, the results suggested that there were cross-cultural differences in preferred body shape, with the preferred body configuration varying as a function of the ethnicity of the figure being rated. In addition, there was a strong positive correlation between ratings of attractiveness and health. These findings are discussed in relation to the interplay between culture and evolution in determining ideals of attractiveness.