The influence of body mass index on the physical attractiveness preferences of feminist and nonfeminist heterosexual women and lesbians

Viren Swami*, Martin J. Tovée

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study examined associations between lesbian and feminist identity and predictors of female physical attractiveness. Seventy-two nonfeminist heterosexuals, 38 feminist heterosexuals, 75 nonfeminist lesbians, and 33 feminist lesbians were asked to rate according to physical attractiveness a set of images of real women with known body mass indexes (BMIs). The results showed that regardless of sexual orientation and feminist ascription, BMI was a dominant predictor of physical attractiveness. The results also showed that there were significant differences between lesbians and heterosexual women in BMIs of images found to be most attractive, with lesbians preferring images of women with significantly higher BMIs than heterosexual women. Self-identification as a feminist did not appear to be associated with a preference for larger BMIs. The findings are discussed in terms of sociocultural theory, which suggests that different communities may have different ideals of beauty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-257
Number of pages6
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

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