Physical Body & Beauty
IS THERE A STANDARD FOR BEAUTY?
Physical attractiveness is subjective. Historically and culturally, beauty standards have fluctuated, most likely as a direct reflection of socio-economic undercurrents. Today, modern science has found there are standard of physical attractiveness, that transcend cultural and historical preference. It seems that we are biologically preprogrammed to be attracted to potential mates whose appearances most strongly signal fertility. These standards of attractiveness include the following:
- For Females: large eyes, prominent cheek bones, high foreheads, healthy skin and hip to waist ratio of 0.7
- For Males: prominent cheekbones, low brow ridge, strong jaw and a powerful, muscular build
- Positive emotions expressed through the face and body language
- Symmetry of facial and bodily structures
Generally, physical attraction can be studied from a number of perspectives, including universal perceptions common to all human cultures, cultural and social aspects, and individual subjective preferences. Additionally, the perception of attractiveness can have a significant effect on how people are judged in terms of employment or social opportunities, friendship, sexual behavior, and marriage.
Some physical features are attractive in both men and women, particularly bodily and facial symmetry, although one contrary report suggests that “absolute flawlessness” with perfect symmetry can be “disturbing”. Symmetry may be evolutionarily beneficial as a sign of health because asymmetry “signals past illness or injury”.One study suggested people were able to “gauge beauty at a subliminal level” by seeing only a glimpse of a picture for one-hundredth of a second. Other important factors include youthfulness, skin clarity and smoothness of skin; and “vivid color” in the eyes and hair. However, there are numerous differences based on gender.
A 1921 study of the reports of college students regarding those traits in individuals which make for attractiveness and repulsiveness argued that static traits, such as beauty or ugliness of features, hold a position subordinate to groups of physical elements like expressive behavior, affectionate disposition, grace of manner, aristocratic bearing, social accomplishments, and personal habits.
Grammer and colleagues have identified eight “pillars” of beauty: youthfulness, symmetry, averageness, sex-hormone markers, body odour, motion, skin complexion and hair texture.
Male physical attractiveness
Women, on average, tend to be more attracted to men who have a relatively narrow waist, a V-shaped torso, and broad shoulders. Women also tend to be more attracted to men who are taller than they are, and display a high degree of facial symmetry, as well as relatively masculine facial dimorphism. With regard to male-male-attractiveness, one source reports that the most important factor that attracts gay men to other males is the man’s physical attractiveness.
This is a remake of a facial geometric sexual dimorphism diagram from Valenzano, D. R. et al. (2006). The horizontal axis indicates geometric facial femininity, and the vertical axis indicates proportion of the population. The blue bell curve on the left represents the male faces, and the pink bell curve on the right represents the female faces. The purple area in the center represents the overlap of the two bell curves where the feminine male faces cannot be distinguished from the masculine female faces. The bell curves show that the proportion of female faces that are more feminine than the most feminine male faces is much greater than the proportion of male faces that are more masculine than the most masculine female faces.
Studies have shown that ovulating heterosexual women prefer faces with masculine traits associated with increased exposure to testosterone during key developmental stages, such as a broad forehead, relatively longer lower face, prominent chin and brow, chiseled jaw and defined cheekbones. The degree of differences between male and female anatomical traits is called sexual dimorphism. Female respondents in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle (n = 55) were significantly more likely to choose a masculine face than those in menses and luteal phases (n = 84), (or in those taking hormonal contraception).
It is suggested that the masculinity of facial features is a reliable indication of good health, or, alternatively, that masculine-looking males are more likely to achieve high status. However, the correlation between attractive facial features and health has been questioned.[Sociocultural factors, such as self-perceived attractiveness, status in a relationship and degree of gender-conformity, have been reported to play a role in female preferences for male faces. Studies have found that women who perceive themselves as physically attractive are more likely to choose men with masculine facial dimorphism, than are women who perceive themselves as physically unattractive.In men, facial masculinity significantly correlates with facial symmetry—it has been suggested that both are signals of developmental stability and genetic health. One study called into question the importance of facial masculinity in physical attractiveness in men arguing that when perceived health, which is factored into facial masculinity, is discounted it makes little difference in physical attractiveness. In a cross-country study involving 4,794 women in their early twenties, a difference was found in women’s average “masculinity preference” between countries.
A study found that the same genetic factors cause facial masculinity in both males and females such that a male with a more masculine face would likely have a sister with a more masculine face due to the siblings having shared genes. The study also found that, although female faces that were more feminine were judged to be more attractive, there was no association between male facial masculinity and male facial attractiveness for female judges. With these findings, the study reasoned that if a woman were to reproduce with a man with a more masculine face, then her daughters would also inherit a more masculine face, making the daughters less attractive. The study concluded that there must be other factors that advantage the genetics for masculine male faces to offset their reproductive disadvantage in terms of “health”, “fertility” and “facial attractiveness” when the same genetics are present in females.
The study reasoned that the “selective advantage” for masculine male faces must “have (or had)” been due to some factor that is not directly tied to female perceptions of male facial attractiveness. The study said that the selection for masculine male faces could be due to the indirect result of female preferences for “correlated traits” such as bodily muscularity or assertive tendencies. The study also said women could possibly judge more masculine faces as being more attractive in “certain contexts or populations” or during ovulation, even though more masculine male faces are not judged by women as more attractive overall. Alternatively, the study said that the selection for “robust” male faces could be due to a “survival or reproductive advantage” by which greater robustness is better suited for “physical damage” in male-male competition or facial robustness may indicate “dominance to male competitors”.
In a study of 447 gay men in China, researchers said that tops preferred feminized male faces, bottoms preferred masculinized male faces and versatiles had no preference for either feminized or masculinized male faces.
In pre-modern Chinese literature, the ideal man in caizi jiaren romances was said to have “rosy lips, sparkling white teeth” and a “jasper-like face” (Chinese: 唇 紅 齒 白 、 面 若 冠 玉).
In Middle English literature, a beautiful man should have a long, broad and strong face.
A study that used Chinese, Malay and Indian judges said that Chinese men with orthognathism where the mouth is flat and in-line with the rest of the face were judged to be the most attractive and Chinese men with a protruding mandible where the jaw projects outward were judged to be the least attractive.
Symmetrical faces and bodies may be signs of good inheritance to women of child-bearing age seeking to create healthy offspring. Studies suggest women are less attracted to men with asymmetrical faces, and symmetrical faces correlate with long term mental performance and are an indication that a man has experienced “fewer genetic and environmental disturbances such as diseases, toxins, malnutrition or genetic mutations” while growing. Since achieving symmetry is a difficult task during human growth, requiring billions of cell reproductions while maintaining a parallel structure, achieving symmetry is a visible signal of genetic health.
Studies have also suggested that women at peak fertility were more likely to fantasize about men with greater facial symmetry, and other studies have found that male symmetry was the only factor that could significantly predict the likelihood of a woman experiencing orgasm during sex. Women with partners possessing greater symmetry reported significantly more copulatory female orgasms than were reported by women with partners possessing low symmetry, even with many potential confounding variables controlled. This finding has been found to hold across different cultures. It has been argued that masculine facial dimorphism (in men) and symmetry in faces are signals advertising genetic quality in potential mates.Low facial and body fluctuating asymmetry may indicate good health and intelligence, which are desirable features. Studies have found that women who perceive themselves as being more physically attractive are more likely to favor men with a higher degree of facial symmetry, than are women who perceive themselves as being less physically attractive. It has been found that symmetrical men (and women) have a tendency to begin to have sexual intercourse at an earlier age, to have more sexual partners, and to have more one-night stands. They are also more likely to be prone to infidelity. A study of quarterbacks in the American National Football League found a positive correlation between facial symmetry and salaries.
A number of double-blind studies have found that women prefer the scent of men who are rated as facially attractive. For example, a study by Anja Rikowski and Karl Grammer had individuals rate the scent of T-shirts slept in by test subjects. The photographs of those subjects were independently rated, and Rikowski and Grammer found that both males and females were more attracted to the natural scent of individuals who had been rated by consensus as facially attractive. Additionally, it has also been shown that women have a preference for the scent of men with more symmetrical faces, and that women’s preference for the scent of more symmetrical men is strongest during the most fertile period of their menstrual cycle. Within the set of normally cycling women, individual women’s preference for the scent of men with high facial symmetry correlated with their probability of conception.
Studies have explored the genetic basis behind such issues as facial symmetry and body scent and how they influence physical attraction. In one study in which women wore men’s T-shirts, researchers found that women were more attracted to the bodily scents in shirts of men who had a different type of gene section within the DNA called Major histocompatibility complex (MHC). MHC is a large gene area within the DNA of vertebrates which encodes proteins dealing with the immune system and which influences individual bodily odors.[ One hypothesis is that humans are naturally attracted by the sense of smell and taste to others with dissimilar MHC sections, perhaps to avoid subsequent inbreeding while increasing the genetic diversity of offspring. Further, there are studies showing that women’s natural attraction for men with dissimilar immune profiles can be distorted with use of birth control pills. Other research findings involving the genetic foundations of attraction suggest that MHC heterozygosity positively correlates with male facial attractiveness. Women judge the faces of men who are heterozygous at all three MHC loci to be more attractive than the faces of men who are homozygous at one or more of these loci. Additionally, a second experiment with genotyped women raters, found these preferences were independent of the degree of MHC similarity between the men and the female rater. With MHC heterozygosity independently seen as a genetic advantage, the results suggest that facial attractiveness in men may be a measure of genetic quality.
For the Romans especially, “beardlessness” and “smooth young bodies” were considered beautiful to both men and women. For Greek and Roman men, the most desirable traits of boys were their “youth” and “hairlessness”. Pubescent boys were considered a socially appropriate object of male desire, while post-pubescent boys were considered to be “ἔξωροι” or “past the prime”. This was largely in the context of pederasty (adult male interest in adolescent boys). Today, men and women’s attitudes towards male beauty has changed. For example, body hair on men may even be preferred (see below).
The physique of a slim waist, broad shoulders and muscular chest are often found to be attractive to females. Further research has shown that, when choosing a mate, the traits females look for indicate higher social status, such as dominance, resources, and protection. An indicator of health in males (a contributing factor to physical attractiveness) is the android fat distribution pattern which is categorized as more fat distributed on the upper body and abdomen, commonly referred to as the “V shape.” When asked to rate other men, both heterosexual and homosexual men found low waist-to-chest ratios (WCR) to be more attractive on other men, with the gay men showing a preference for lower WCR (more V-shaped) than the straight men.
Other researchers found waist-to-chest ratio the largest determinant of male attractiveness, with body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio not as significant.
Women focus primarily on the ratio waist to chest or more specifically waist to shoulder. This is analogous to the waist to hip ratio (WHR) that men prefer. Key body image for a man in the eyes of a woman would include big shoulders, chest, and upper back, and a slim waist area. Research has additionally shown that college males had a better satisfaction with their body than college females. The research also found that when a college female’s waist to hip ratio went up, their body image satisfaction decreased. The results indicate that males had significantly greater body image satisfaction than did females.
Some research has shown that body weight may have a stronger effect than WHR when it comes to perceiving attractiveness of the opposite sex. It was found that waist to hip ratio played a smaller role in body preference than body weight in regards to both sexes.
Psychologists Viren Swami and Martin J. Tovee compared female preference for male attractiveness cross culturally, between Britain and Malaysia. They found that females placed more importance on WCR (and therefore body shape) in urban areas of Britain and Malaysia, while females in rural areas placed more importance on BMI (therefore weight and body size). Both WCR and BMI are indicative of male status and ability to provide for offspring, as noted by evolutionary theory.
Females have been found to desire males that are normal weight and have the average WHR for a male. Females view these males as attractive and healthy. Males who had the average WHR but were overweight or underweight are not perceived as attractive to females. This suggests that WHR is not a major factor in male attractiveness, but a combination of body weight and a typical male WHR seem to be the most attractive. Research has shown that men who have a higher waist to hip ratio and a higher salary are perceived as more attractive to women.
A 1982 study found that an abdomen that protrudes was the most unattractive physical trait for men.
In Middle English literature, a beautiful man should have a flat abdomen.
Men’s bodies portrayed in magazines marketed to men are more muscular than the men’s bodies portrayed in magazines marketed to women. From this, some have concluded that men perceive a more muscular male body to be ideal, as distinct from a woman’s ideal male, which is less muscular than what men perceive to be ideal. This is due to the within-gender prestige granted by increased muscularity and within-gender competition for increased muscularity. Men perceive the attractiveness of their own musculature by the closeness their body resembles the “muscle man. ” This “muscle man” ideal is characterized by large muscular arms, especially biceps, a large muscular chest that tapers to their waist and broad shoulders.
In a study of stated profile preferences on Match.com, a greater percentage of gay men than lesbians selected their ideal partner’s body type as “Athletic and Toned” as opposed to the other two options of “Average” or “Overweight”.
In pre-modern Chinese literature, such as in The Story of the Western Wing, a type of masculinity called “scholar masculinity” is depicted wherein the “ideal male lover” is “weak, vulnerable, feminine, and pedantic”.
In Middle English literature, a beautiful man should have thick, broad shoulders, a square and muscular chest, a muscular back, strong sides that taper to a small waist, large hands and arms and legs with huge muscles.
A 2006 study of 25,594 heterosexual men found that men who perceived themselves as having a large penis were more satisfied with their own appearance.
A recent 2014 study criticized previous studies based on the fact that they relied on images and used terms such as “small”, “medium”, and “large” when asking for female preference. The new study used 3D models of penises from sizes of 4 inches long and 2.5 inches in circumference to 8.5 inches long and 7 inches in circumference and let the women physically handle them. It was found that women overestimated the actual size of the penises they have experimented with when asked in a follow-up survey. The study concluded that women on average preferred the 6.5 inch penis in length both for long-term and for one-time partners. Penises with larger girth were preferred for one-time partners.
Height and erect posture
Females’ sexual attraction towards males may be determined by the height of the man. Height in men is associated with status or wealth in many cultures (in particular those where malnutrition is common), which is beneficial to women romantically involved with them. One study conducted of women’s personal ads support the existence of this preference; the study found that in ads requesting height in a mate, 80% requested a height of 6.00 feet (1.83 m) or taller. The online dating Website eHarmony only matches women with taller men because of complaints from women matched with shorter men.
Other studies have shown that heterosexual women often prefer men taller than they are rather than a man with above average height. While women usually desire men to be at least the same height as themselves or taller, several other factors also determine male attractiveness, and the male-taller norm is not universal. For example, taller women are more likely to relax the “taller male” norm than shorter women. Furthermore, professor Adam Eyre-Walker, from the University of Sussex, has stated that there is, as yet, no evidence that these preferences are evolutionary preferences, as opposed to merely cultural preferences. In a double-blind study by Graziano et al., it was found that, in person, using a sample of women of normal size, they were on average most attracted to men who were of medium height (5’9″- 5’11”) and less attracted to both men of shorter height (5’5″- 5’7″) and men of tallest height (6’2″- 6’4″).
Additionally, women seem more receptive to an erect posture than men, though both prefer it as an element within beauty. According to one study (Yee N., 2002), gay men who identify as “Only Tops” tend to prefer shorter men, while gay men who identify as “Only Bottoms” tend to prefer taller men.
In romances in Middle English literature, all of the “ideal” male heroes are tall, and the vast majority of the “valiant” male heroes are tall too.
Studies based in the United States, New Zealand, and China have shown that women rate men with no trunk (chest and abdominal) hair as most attractive, and that attractiveness ratings decline as hairiness increases. Another study, however, found that moderate amounts of trunk hair on men was most attractive, to the sample of British and Sri Lankan women. Further, a degree of hirsuteness (hairiness) and a waist-to-shoulder ratio of 0.6 is often preferred when combined with a muscular physique.
In a study using Finnish women, women with hairy fathers were more likely to prefer hairy men, suggesting that preference for hairy men is either the result of genetics or imprinting. Among gay men, another study (Yee N., 2002) reported gay males who identify as “only tops” prefer less hairy men, while gay males who identify as “only bottoms” prefer hairier men.
Testosterone has been shown to darken skin color in laboratory experiments. In his foreword to Peter Frost’s 2005 Fair Women, Dark Men, University of Washington sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe writes: “Although virtually all cultures express a marked preference for fair female skin, even those with little or no exposure to European imperialism, and even those whose members are heavily pigmented, many are indifferent to male pigmentation or even prefer men to be darker.” Despite this, the aesthetics of skin tone varies from culture to culture. Manual laborers who spent extended periods of time outside developed a darker skin tone due to exposure to the sun. As a consequence, an association between dark skin and the lower classes developed. Light skin became an aesthetic ideal because it symbolized wealth. “Over time society attached various meanings to these colored differences. Including assumptions about a person’s race, socioeconomic class, intelligence, and physical attractiveness.” More recent research has suggested that redder and yellower skin tones, reflecting higher levels of oxygenated blood, melanin pigment and net dietary intakes of fruit and vegetables, appears healthier, and therefore more attractive.
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HOW TO FIND BEAUTY IN THE BIRTH CHART
An astrologer would expect to find Venus well-aspected and strong in the chart of an attractive individual. This is the planet that rules beauty, harmony, fertility (to a certain extent along with the Moon) and sexual pleasure. Neptune is important, as well. It is a higher octave of Venus. Compassionate, angelic love. Many actors and actresses have strong Neptune placement in their Birth Charts, which gives them the ability to exude a mysterious, magnetic quality. It seems to give the Native an un-earthly or angelic beauty.
- When using astrology to understand a person’s physical appearance, you will start by examining the 1st House and Ascendent. Make a note of the Zodiac sign, the planets conjunct the ASC and the planets found in the 1st House.
- The Ascendent or Rising Sign will give some clues about a person’s “looks” but it seems to be better at describing a person’s “vibe”. For example, the Fire Signs have quicker movements and are more aggressive, the Earth Signs tend to move slowly and to wait during conversation, Air Signs have a cerebral, extroverted expression and Water Signs can seem more reserved.
- But, to dig deeper, take a look at the Chart Ruler of the Birth Chart. This is the ruling planet of the Ascendent. Find the Chart Ruler by House placement, as well as Zodiac sign and aspects. The Chart Ruler seems to tell a more nuanced and accurate story about a person’s physical appearance.
MARKERS OF PHYSICAL BEAUTY
- Strongly Placed Venus in the 1st, 7th, or 10th Houses. The individual will be known for their attractiveness and/or glamour. Enhanced if Venus & Neptune are in aspect to one another. Also, Saturn conjunctions, squares or oppositions add a severity or angularity to the physical appearance. For example a prominent pointiness to the nose or an aqualine face.
- Libra, Taurus or Pisces Rising: Chart ruler of Venus or Neptune, as long as the ruler is not poorly aspected with hard aspects from Saturn or Mars (unless Male: Mars influence on the rising sign or chart ruler will give a muscularity or masculinity to the appearance) Remember, the Rising sign is better at indicating a person’s “vibe” or way of moving. The placement of the Chart Ruler gives you the more important details about actual appearance.
- Chart ruler is in the 2nd H: gives an earthy sensual beauty. More prone to have a solid body type, curvy as a woman or broad as a man.
- Chart ruler is in the 7th H: gives a pleasant, dimpled appearance, high cheekbones, curved facial shape, angel’s bow mouth, charming nature
- Chart ruler is in the 10th H (in a Man’s chart): gives power, ambition and masculinity
- Chart ruler is in the 12th H: gives a feminine, magnetic, illusive glamour, beautiful soulful eyes–possibly large or of a special color or quality
- Venus or Neptune Conjunct, Trine or Opposite the ASC or Chart Ruler: gives charm and beauty, softens the appearance
- Venus-Jupiter aspects: enhances personal charm and happiness
- Venus-Mars aspects: increase sexual “hotness”
- Venus-Pluto aspects: add a dangerous sexy bad boy/bad girl vibe, not necessarily beautiful though
OVERALL BODY TYPE: THINNESS VS PLUMPNESS
For overall body type, take a look at Mars. The following are general rules:
- Mesomorphs/Medium Build/Solid: Mars in Aries, Leo, Scorpio, Capricorn or Mars in the 1st, 5th, 8th, or 10th houses will tend to be more muscular. When in shape these men are considered some of the most attractive male bodies.
- Ectomorphs/Lean Build/Skinny: Mars in Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Aquarius or Mars in the 3rd, 6th, 9th or 11th Houses tend to be long and/or skinny, due to excessive physical or nervous system energy. These are our runway models and hard gainer body types.
- Endomorphs/Curvy Build/Soft: Mars in Taurus, Cancer, Libra, Pisces or Mars in the 4th, 7th or the 12th tend to be curvy and have fluctuating weight. When in shape, these are considered some of the most desireable female bodies.
Look at both the sign and the house placement for Mars. A person can have a Cancer Mars which is a body type that fluctuates in weight, and they could have it in the 11th House, which is a placement that would indicate the Native is on again/off again with the way their energy systems operate. They will go go go, probably be quite skinny for a bit, then burn out and gain back the weight for a bit. The weight would also be in flux.