As a wise woman once sang, hips don’t lie.
Evolutionary psychologists at the University of Portsmouth in the UK have recently been looking at how a woman’s body shape and movement affects how attractive others find them. The findings suggest that attractiveness is judged by how a person moves their body just as much as its shape and size. It ain’t what you got, it’s the way that you use it, so to speak.
Most decisively, the most attractive walks usually involve a slight wiggle in the hips and short steps, according to the new study published in the journal Visual Cognition,
“A combination of small waist, rounded hips and bottom, and a slim figure have long been reported to be important in women’s attractiveness, but it turns out the way a woman moves is as important,” lead author Dr Ed Morrison explained in a statement.
“Most previous research into what makes a body attractive has relied on photographs, but in real life we usually see a potential mate moving. Motion is also crucial in courtship behaviors like dancing.”
“Research shows that we are more likely to find a woman attractive if she wiggles her hips and takes small steps."
As part of the research, 37 different female models with a range of body types were filmed walking along a treadmill. Reflective markers were placed on key points of their body in order to create wire figures of the models, which captured their proportions and movement but not their individual features.
The researcher then showed the clips to 25 people (14 women and 11 men) and asked to rate their attractiveness. A separate 50 volunteers (26 women and 21 men) were also asked to rate the same women in photographs or in film footage.
This is a relatively small study, so it’s unclear how the findings would translate across a bunch of sexualities and social backgrounds, especially because attractiveness clearly varies hugely depending on different cultures. Nevertheless, the researchers argue that their findings hint at a universal idea based on evolutionary biology.
“I’m not sure why a particular walking style is considered attractive but gait might be giving away important clues to a woman’s fitness and age – key components of reproductive health,” Dr Morrison added.
“It would be interesting to test if people can actively change their movement to attract or deter mates – using such knowledge is similar in evolutionary psychology terms to a woman wearing red lipstick or eyeliner, both of which directly mimic signals of fertility, youth or health.”