Amid all the conflicting evidence, Karremans sent his mannequins around the Netherlands. The blind stood before them; they were told to touch the women, to focus their hands on the waists and hips. The breasts on both figures were the same, in case the men reached too high. The men extended their arms; they ran their hands over the region. Then they scored the attractiveness of the bodies. Karremans had a hunch, he told me, that their ratings wouldn’t match those of the sighted men he used as controls, half of them blindfolded so that they, too, would be judging by feel. It seemed likely, he said, that visual culture would play an overwhelming part in creating the outlines of lust. And though the blind had almost surely grown up hearing attractiveness described, perhaps even in terms of hourglass shapes, it was improbable, he writes in his forthcoming journal paper, that they had heard descriptions amounting to, “The more hourglass shaped, the more attractive,” which would be necessary to favor the curvier mannequin over the figure that was only somewhat less so.
But, with some statistically insignificant variation, the scores of the blind matched those of the sighted. Both groups preferred the more pronounced sweep from waist to hip. One possible explanation emphasizes the sense of smell — though the mannequins wore no perfume. By this line of thinking, certain ratios of hormones and their metabolites in the female body are associated with biological advantage, as well as with particular pheromonal scents and low W.H.R.’s. The male begins life wired, through the influence of evolution, to favor these odors and then learns, mostly through unconscious experience, to connect the cues of smell to the proportions of waist and hip. He makes this connection through sight if he can see and by touch if he can’t.
Via Citizen Renegade.