23 Feb 2012

Hourglass figure timeless, attractive

Author: Danae King | Filed under: Localizing story, Spring 2012, Student Contributor

An illustration of the hourglass figure, comparing Spangenberg's "extreme" figure and the traditional figure. Chart by Danae King

By Danae King

Thirty-two, 20, 32 — these are the measurements of Romanian model Ioana Spangenberg. Dubbed an example of the hourglass figure, Spangenberg has been in the news recently for her figure.

The hourglass figure has been a standard of beauty for as long as women have been drawn, sculpted and portrayed, but Spangenberg’s figure is “extreme,” said Anne Gordon, associate professor in the department of psychology at Bowling Green State University.

“This is an extraordinarily rare depiction of a woman’s body,” Gordon said, while looking at a photograph of Spangenberg. “Far less than 1 percent of women in the world have this body type.”

Gordon studies the body and social psychology from an evolutionary perspective, she also focuses on human mating and what is attractive in a mate. Gordon said many men would say Spangenberg’s figure is unattractive because it’s so unnatural, even though the attractiveness of the hourglass body shape is independent of size.

“She’s emaciated,” said BGSU freshman Josh Nawrocki. “She’s clearly in an unhealthy state.”

Nawrocki said he doesn’t find Spangenberg attractive because she is “unbelievably skinny.”

Mariah Dandar, a sophomore apparel merchandising and product development major, said Spangenberg’s look is not fashionable.

Size 2 is the ideal size for a fashion designer, Dandar said, but Spangenberg’s waist is closer to a size 0 and her hips don’t match.

The hourglass figure is considered beautiful, but it’s not what designers want in models, Dandar said.

“If she was a little thicker in the middle. Her height is perfect but her waistline is very extreme,” Dandar said. “She has the extreme of the hourglass figure, but she is disproportioned looking.”

Clothes that create the illusion of an hourglass are very popular, Dandar said.

“People with hourglass figures are said to be beautiful and lucky,” Dandar said.

Late teens and early twenties is when most women have the hourglass figure, which is considered the most appealing body type, Gordon said.

“A woman’s shape cues a lot of things about her,” Gordon said.

The hourglass figure can signal health because of biological factors, Gordon said.

“The hourglass signals relative youth, fertility and health,” she said.

Gordon explained the waist-to-hip ratio, which is the circumference of a woman’s waist compared to the circumference of her hips. So if a woman measures her waist and then her hips and divides the waist measurement by the hip measurement, she will get her waist to hip ratio, Gordon said.

Spangenberg’s waist-to-hip ratio is .625, while the ideal waist-to-hip ratio is .7 to .75, Gordon said. This range is considered to be the most attractive by men and correlates with the hourglass figure.

“Women are most likely to have a relatively low waist-to-hip ratio when they’re in their teens and twenties,” Gordon said. “This coincides with when they’re most fertile.”

The hourglass figure and its attractiveness to men isn’t likely to change over time, Gordon said.

“As long as it continues to be linked with age, fertility and health, we expect it to linger,” Gordon said.

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One thought on “Hourglass figure timeless, attractive

  1. AlexaFaie Says:

    I’m not sure how you can class her figure as an extreme hourglass when compared the the “traditional” hourglass figure. The traditional one mentioned measures 36″, 22″, 36″, whereas Ioana measures 32″, 20″, 32″. 36″ minus 22″ gives a 14″ difference between waist and hips, however Ioana’s 20″ waist and 32″ hips only have a 12″ difference in size. This is actually a less extreme shape visually.

    Sure she is thin, and yes she has worn corsets and it is when wearing the corsets that she gets a more extreme shape than her actual measurements.

    Noone would bat an eyelid if she was 36″, 24″, 36″ which is the exact same proportions visually. The issue is only because she is smaller than average.

    I myself have a natural hourglass figure, currently of 38″, 26″, 38″ after medication for my bipolar disorder made me gain weight. Prior to that I had been 34″, 24″, 34″ for years. With a brief spell of being 32″, 22″, 32″ when in a major depressive period. My waist to hip ratio is 0.68 and at my 34″,24″,34″ it was 0.70 and at 32″,22″,32″ it was 0.69.

    I also wear corsets because I love the shape I get whilst wearing them, love the confidence boost, love the feeling. I own and wear custom made corsets with a 20″ waist and an 18″ waist. I don’t yet wear them fully closed, but even with one of the larger 20″ corsets fully shut that would give me a much more extreme hourglass figure than what is being described here. The waist to hip ratio would be 0.53 and I’d have an 18″ hipspring. Much more extreme than Ioana’s 12″ hipspring which for me is my natural hipspring too.