Breast shape (ptosis) as a marker of a woman's breast attractiveness and age: Evidence from Poland and Papua

Am J Hum Biol. 2017 Jul 8;29(4). doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22981. Epub 2017 Feb 17.


Objectives: A women's breast is a sex-specific and aesthetic bodily attribute. It is suggested that breast morphology signals maturity, health, and fecundity. The perception of a woman's attractiveness and age depends on various cues, such as breast size or areola pigmentation. Conducted in Poland and Papua, the current study investigated how breast attractiveness, and the further estimate of a woman's age based on her breast's appearance, is affected by the occurrence of breast ptosis (ie, sagginess, droopiness).

Methods: In the Polish sample, 57 women and 50 men (N = 107) were presented with sketches of breasts manipulated to represent different stages of ptosis based on two different breast ptosis classifications. The participants were asked to rate the breast attractiveness and age of the woman whose breasts were depicted in each sketch. In Papua, 45 men aged 20 to 75 years took part in the study, which was conducted using only one of the classifications of breast ptosis.

Results: Regardless of the classification used, the results showed that the assessed attractiveness of the breasts decreased as the estimated age increased with respect to the more ptotic breasts depicted in the sketches. The results for Papuan raters were the same as for the Polish sample.

Conclusions: Breast ptosis may be yet another physical trait that affects the perception and preferences of a potential sexual partner. The consistency in ratings between Polish and Papuan raters suggests that the tendency to assess ptotic breasts with aging and a loss of attractiveness is cross-culturally universal.

Keywords: aging; breast ptosis; droop; sagging; sexual selection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Beauty*
  • Breast / anatomy & histology*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Perception*
  • Poland
  • Young Adult