Lots of men like a woman with curves. But most of those women feel insecure about the curves they have. Women often underestimate or just don’t really understand what it is that men really find attractive. They only pick up on the signals the media is sending to them on how they are supposed to be. Women often mistakenly believe that they have to be a certain weight or shape for men to find them attractive. Nothing is further from the truth. Case in point, in a 1985 study researchers asked participants of both sexes to list “their current figure, their ideal figure, the figure that they felt would be most attractive to the opposite sex, and the opposite sex figure to which they would be most attracted.” The results were that “women thought men would like women thinner than men reported they like.” On the other side, male participants, “thought women would like a heavier stature [in men] than females reported they like.” Men and women in this study both had misconceptions as to what was found attractive in the opposite sex. However, women were injured by their self-perception of their figure and its assumed attractiveness while men were not. The authors wrote of their results, “Overall, men’s perceptions serve to keep them satisfied with their figures, whereas women’s perceptions place pressure on them to lose weight.”
Another breakthrough came three years later when the same researchers found that “mothers and daughters believed that men (of their own generation) prefer much thinner women than these men actually prefer.” We would think that with self-help so prevalent in society nowadays and gender equality issues pervasive we would have a clearer perception of our own attractiveness and what the opposite sex wants. Why don’t women have the same perception as men, the ones they are trying to attract? Evolutionary psychologists have a theory called “mate selection theory,” which states that women know their “mate value” and perceive their attractiveness in order to get the best mate possible in which to produce offspring. But this false self-perception of women contradicts the theory. According to David Buss, author and psychologist, what isn’t being taken into consideration is the media. “One ‘input’ into women’s mating psychology is rival women in their ‘social environment.’ Ancestrally, of course, women would not have been exposed to hundreds of images of these ultra-thin women; small-group living meant that women had perhaps a dozen or two other women of reproductive age that would have effective same-sex mating rivals.” It was when the fashion industry found that thinner models made the clothes hang better thus fit better that commercials and the fashion industry gave women millions of images of thin models to compete against, thus this modern angst. For more on this topic, check out The Evolution of Desire by David Buss.