"You are so beautiful"*: behind women's attractiveness towards the biology of reproduction: a narrative review

Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012 Oct;28(10):753-7. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2012.662545. Epub 2012 Mar 6.


Female beauty has always attracted human beings. In particular, beauty has been interpreted in terms of reproductive potential and advantage in selection of mates. We have reviewed the recent literature on female facial and physical beauty with the objective of defining which parameters could influence female attractiveness. Symmetry, averageness, and sexual dimorphism with regards to facial beauty, as well as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), breast size, and body mass index (BMI) for physical beauty, have been assessed. In current societies, it appears that facial attractiveness results from a mixture of symmetry and averageness of traits, high forehead and cheekbones, small nose and chin, full lips, thin eyebrows, and thick hair. A low WHR reliably characterized physical attractiveness, whereas inconsistencies have been observed in the evaluation of breast size and BMI. The importance of breast size appears to vary with time and sex of evaluators, whereas the impact of BMI is related to socio-economic conditions. The various hypotheses behind beauty and the role of attractiveness in mate choice and sexual selection are here described in terms of continuation of human species. Intriguing associations are emerging between features of attractiveness and some reproductive disorders, as both are substantially influenced by sex steroid hormones.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Beauty Culture / trends
  • Beauty*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Reproductive Health Services / trends
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Women's Health Services / trends
  • Women's Health*