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The science of beauty: How body composition affects attraction

Most people know that there’s likely a correlation between looking good and attracting a potential mate. But how many of you are aware of all the different reasons reasoning behind this phenomenon? Our body composition and chemistry are always secretly at work behind the scenes in ways that some of you probably never expected. Ready for a little lesson in birds, bees and the body features that keep the world turning?

Why we love symmetry: You may have heard that symmetry plays a big role in how we perceive others’ attractiveness. In fact, 8 out of 10 survey participants who were asked to choose the better-looking of two versions of the same face chose the one that had greater symmetry, according to the Discovery Channel. Symmetry can give us subconscious clues about one’s physical and genetic health. Ideally, the human body is meant to develop symmetrically, though genetics and prenatal nutrition can create slight imperfections.

“Good symmetry shows that an individual has the genetic goods to survive development, is healthy, and is a good and fertile choice for mating,” explains LiveScience.

Evolutionary biologist Randy Thornhill of the University of New Mexico even told the site that men with more symmetrical features tend to have more sexual partners in their lifetime than those with slightly asymmetrical looks.

Why we love those hourglass figures: Maybe you’ve been striving for that classic hourglass figure, but have you ever wondered why? According to LiveScience, studies have found that women with a waist-to-hip ratio of .67 to 1.18 (read: visibly narrower waist than hips) are considered attractive by men. Men with a ratio of .8 to 1.0 were rated highly by women.

What’s the deal? Well, scientists at the University of Texas found that those with desirable waist-to-hip ratios tend to have a statistically lower risk of contracting diseases, according to LiveScience, and in women, the right balance is a sign of fertility.

Get a whiff of that guy: Even more behind the scenes than our body type preferences, the way we smell has plenty to do with who we choose to bed. Men and women both secrete different kinds of pheromones that unconsciously signal to others how fertile they are. For example, women give off a different fragrance when they’re ovulating, and men “smell” a certain way when their testosterone levels are high. We may not realize any of these things, but it can have a powerful effect on who we end up talking to at the bar or opening night gala.

Also, the subtle “smells” we give off tell others whether our immune systems make a good match with theirs. “We unconsciously want to mate with someone who has a different immune system than ours because that helps with the survival of our offspring,” sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman told The Oprah Winfrey Show.

All in all, it seems like genetics may play a role in attractiveness, but that’s not to say you’re on the wrong track by hitting the gym and maintaining excellent nutrition. Our genes can only set the stage – how we take care of our bodies will have the ultimate say in how we feel and appear to others.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing