Women are constantly under pressure to match up to beauty ideals – but how close is it to the norm?
A study has revealed what men really want from a lover by creating a 3D image of the ideal female body and placed it alongside the average lady.
The Today Show asked graphic designer Nickolay Lamm to produce images showing the most desirable female figure based on findings from previous research.
The artist then created a picture of the average woman’s body to stand next to the “dream” girl.
The image on the left shows the ideal female body shape, according to men and women who took part in the study.
The fantasy female had a slim hourglass figure with big boobs and a BMI which was in the normal range but close to the underweight category.
On the right is the average woman’s body which was more pear-shaped with a smaller bust and bigger hips.
“We were a bit surprised,” researcher Martin Tovée said. “It is possible that the female participants were exaggerating a feature they felt was particularly important.”
Both men and women also opted for an ideal woman with a slimmer figure.
Experts reckon that we base our bodily preferences on what appears to look healthy and fertile.
“People tell us they look natural and very attractive even when shaped like Barbie”
Kerri Johnson, associate professor at UCLA, explained: “Our mental representation of the average woman is more extreme than anything you will see in Vogue.
“And this happens by age five. At some point you’d think that a very small waist-to-hip ratio would be seen as unnatural and unattractive, but we have not hit that lower boundary.
“In fact, people tell us they look natural and very attractive even when shaped like Barbie.”
However designer Nickolay pointed out that there’s more to life than just looks.
He said: “Even though we are aware of ideal bodies, it’s not like we reject people if they don’t have perfect bodies.
”We decide our life partners on many factors (personality, character, etc).
“Whether or not someone is an ideal body type is not that important at the end of the day.”