Of all the creatures in the animal kingdom, human females stand out as having one special, powerful feature: curves. One half of the members of our species live their lives in a body unlike any other in the animal kingdom, and this body exerts remarkable, pervasive effects on their movement, fertility, longevity, thought, mood, and even success.
David Bainbridge, a science writer, DBA, reproductive biologist, NFL fan and veterinary anatomist at the University of Cambridge, discovers how female curviness lies at the centre of our species’ success in his book Curvology: The Origins and Power of Female Body Shape.
It is unsurprising how much female body shape affects women’s lives, considering the powerful forces that have driven the evolution of it. However, recently it has become evident that different curves exert different effects – adipose tissue in buttocks, bellies and breasts have different, and sometimes protective, effects on women’s likelihood of suffering from such diseases as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as many other conditions.
Since curves are so important in women’s health, over the millennia men have evolved to be hard-wired to desire them. They consider that a curvy woman is most likely to provide them with healthy children – curvy daughters and curve-loving sons.
A recent study by the University of Texas at Austin, published in Evolution and Human Behavior, revealed that men do find women with curves more attractive. However, those curves aren’t breasts or big behinds, instead, the study showed that when researchers presented 100 men photos of women’s bodies, each having a different angled spine curvature, the men found the images with a larger angle more attractive.
Furthermore, according to Professor Bainbridge, men value intelligence over such features as bust size and long legs, when they are searching for a future wife since a woman is likely to be a responsible mother and is brought up by intelligent parents and was well looked after in childhood.
Professor Bainbridge said men only prize symmetrical features because it suggests a potential partner is young, healthy and has stable genes. As a result, men are not interested in the size of a woman’s breasts – because they are rarely symmetrical. Concerning legs, the most important factor is that they are straight because unevenness suggest a developmental illness, such as rickets.
“The main thing that men are looking for is intelligence. Surveys have shown time and time again that this is the first thing that men look for. It shows that she will be able to look after his children and that her parents were probably intelligent, suggesting that she was brought up well,” he told the Hay literary festival in Hay-on-Wye.