A “perfect body” poll made the internet rounds in April last year: A lingerie company asked 500 men and 500 women to vote on their ideal celebrity body parts. Designers photoshopped the images to create four images of the “perfect body” based on results.
A few thoughts before I begin:
- Warning: This post contains naked bodies!
- I know there’s no such thing as a perfect body. It’s a silly internet poll, lighten up.
- All the body parts chosen were white. That’s probably due to the designers wanting to make it easier to photoshop similar skin tones, as opposed to a racially bigoted conspiracy.
- Beauty is more than skin-deep, and sexiness is more than just appearance. Yes, I know.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; this is an aggregate composition of many preferences, so it’s bound to look a little wonky.
- This post reports on generalisations. Your personal preferences may differ. That’s a given.
How men and women see a woman’s “perfect body”
Now that that is out of the way, the results for women aren’t surprising:
The body on the left is the perfect body according to women. The body on the right is the perfect body according to men.
The perfect female body according to men has big hair, big breasts (e.g. Kim Kardashian is a D cup while Jennifer Aniston is a B cup) and wider hips (than the body on the left). That isn’t surprising. Scientific evidence suggests men prefer specific waist to hip ratios that signify favorable child birthing bodies (see below).
What is surprising to me is that so many women in Second Life choose to appear as the body on the right (“male’s perfect female”), when this poll suggests their preference in RL would be for the body on the left (“female’s perfect female”).
In a few ways, the curviness of this body on the right is more realistic than the more slender figure on the left (due to skeletal structures alone). In real life, women might prefer the body on the left because it tends to easier to find clothes that fit it. Women might also prefer it because it’s more conducive to vigorous exercise. In Second Life, women might not have those concerns.
Second Life Mesh body designers tend to feature shapely (while still slender) bodies in their advertisements that I feel are more aligned with “male’s perfect female” of the poll. Here is the advertisement for the most popular mesh body in Second Life: Maitreya Lara. While this body looks like it could fit into the middle of the “perfect bodies” above, the default shape is one of the most svelte of the ones I’ve seen advertised:
Yes, I know we can modify our shapes widely, and we do. What I’m referring to relates more to how designers advertise these bodies as opposed to how users might change their shapes after-market.
Off the shelf female avatar body types in virtual worlds, to me at least, appear to resemble the “male’s perfect female”: bigger breasts and wider hips. A brief scan of Second Life shapes shows that women in Second Life prefer to embody the”male’s perfect female” too.
Belleza and Slink similarly promote curvaceous, “male’s perfect female” body types. Here is Belleza’s Venus:
Belleza released fully figured Isis and Freya in June 2015, which are even more like “male’s perfect female”:
Slink advertises their Physique body with a default curvy shape.
If you can’t see the image here, follow this link: http://www.canarybeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/SLink-Physique-Ad.jpg
In October 2015, probably due to popular demand, Slink released another body that’s even more curvy, and more aligned with”male’s perfect female”:
The Mesh Project (TMP) advertises their female body showing different shapes:
If you can’t see the image here, go to: http://www.canarybeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/TMP-Body-Ad.jpg
Apart from the figure on the far right, all the shapes are more similar to”male’s perfect female”.
As I said before, these shapes align neatly with what men find physically attractive:
In summary, men like:
- a larger waist to hips ratio (7:10)
- a high voice
- long and lustrous, and healthy hair
- less makeup
- wearing red
How men and women see the a man’s “perfect body”
The results for how men and women see men’s bodies stack up like this:
According to this poll, both men and women prefer defined muscular bodies on men. I’m not so sure about this. I think it depends on how you ask the question. A British menswear label asked men: “What do you think women find attractive”. They then asked women what they find attractive in men. They got a very different result:
The figure on the left represents what men thought women find attractive. The figure on the right represents what women found attractive in men.
While I’ve seen no statistics to support this, I’d guess that Slink and TMP make the most highly functional men’s mesh bodies in Second Life. These are the bodies that men can wear a wider variety of clothes with. They’re popular, but that’s not saying much because the penetration of men’s mesh bodies in Second Life is relatively low. What’s strange is that neither of these bodies appears to align with the “male’s perfect male” out of the box.
This is how TMP advertise their male body:
Slink advertises their male body with a more masculine shape with body hair. Perhaps these images speak to male mesh bodies made by creators that predominantly make products for women.
If you can’t see the image here, go to: http://www.canarybeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/SLink-Physique-Male-Ad.jpg
The “male’s perfect male” seems closer to the products sold by Niramyth:
Researchers have also studied what women find attractive in men, and it has little to do with male bodies:
In summary, women find the following physical features attractive:
- facial symmetry
- deeper voices
- larger jaws
- limbic rings around the irises in the eyes
According to the body shape poll, a “male’s perfect female” is more curvaceous and a “male’s perfect male” is more muscularly developed. There’s nothing new there. Women preferred more slender bodies for both men and women than men did for either sex.
What’s surprising, is that mesh body designers promote the “male’s perfect female” when they sell female bodies, and with great success. Even more surprising, when women have the ability to shape their bodies any way they wish, they tend also to align with the “male’s perfect male” body type.
Men seem also to be more muscular than average in Second Life, which naturally aligns with the “male’s perfect male”. Perhaps one of the reasons for the lower penetration of men’s mesh avatars is because the most highly functioning avatars are not aligning with the “male’s perfect male”?
Which type of women’s body do you see more in Second Life? The “male’s perfect female” or the “female’s perfect female”?
Which type of men’s body do you see more in Second Life? The “male’s perfect male” or the “female’s perfect male?”
In my opinion, the dominant body style for both sexes in Second Life aligns more with what the poll reports men see as “perfect,” rather than what women see as “perfect”. It’s also fair to say that many women choose to not align themselves to anybody’s perception of the perfect female, but these tend to be the exception that proves the rule.
Is a bad thing that we like curvier bodies in Second Life? Men, after all, tend to prefer more shapely body types because it is genetically advantageous. Doesn’t it make sense that women would also wish to look more attractive to the opposite sex? Does it make sense to do despite their personal preferences? Are these preferences genuine for thinner bodies real, or are they manufactured by media that expects women to be ultra-thin?
With respect to how women choose to portray themselves in Second Life: Are women more interested in embodying fuller figures in Second Life, simply because they have the opportunity to do so? Or is it because women are naturally more fully figured in real life, and the internet poll’s results represents what women feel compelled to look like ? Or, have women noticed that they get more attention from men if they look this way, and therefore subconsciously or consciously reflect the “male’s perfect female” type?
Note: I seem to be having a problem with WordPress where some of the images of the post refuse to display. I’ve added links in their captions while I sort out the problem.