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Ethan Gonzalez
Ethan Gonzalez

[download LINK Pdf] The Silhouette Girl



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[download pdf] The Silhouette Girl



The chief reason for inconsistency in results of previous studies seems to be methodological diversity and, in particular, the stimuli to be assessed. These include schematic drawings of females varying in WHR (e.g., Singh, 1993; Tassinary & Hansen, 1998), digitally manipulated photographs (e.g., Dixson, Grimshaw, Linklater, & Dixson, 2011; Rozmus-Wrzesińska & Pawłowski, 2005), non-manipulated photographs of real women (e.g., Thornhill & Grammer, 1999; Tovée, Maisey, Emery, & Cornelissen, 1999), movies with rotating three-dimensional figures (e.g., Fan, Liu, Wu, & Dai, 2004; Rilling, Kaufman, Smith, Patel, & Worthman, 2009), and pairs of photographs of the same woman before and after a surgical WHR reduction (e.g., Dixson, Li, & Dixson, 2010; Singh & Randall, 2007). In studies based on non-manipulated images of real women, estimation of the preferred WHR value is difficult because attractiveness assessments are confounded by body characteristics correlated with WHR, which in the first place is body mass (Rilling et al., 2009; Tassinary & Hansen, 1998; Tovée et al., 1999). Studies that statistically controlled for body mass (e.g., Brooks, Shelly, Fan, Zhai, & Chau, 2010; Cornelissen, Hancock, Kiviniemic, George, & Tovée, 2009; Cornelissen, Tovée, & Bateson, 2009; Fan et al., 2004; Rilling et al., 2009; Tovée et al., 1999; Tovée, Hancock, Mahmoodi, Singleton, & Cornelissen, 2002) usually reported that attractiveness was negatively correlated with WHR (with rs between 0.1 and 0.3), but the precision of such statements in identifying the most attractive WHR is unsatisfactory. Studies involving photographs of women before and after surgical WHR reduction can determine which of these two is the more attractive but does not reveal the most attractive possible value of WHR. Digital manipulation of silhouettes can potentially be the best approach, yet previous studies of this sort embodied several serious methodological weaknesses:


Many studies used schematic silhouette drawings developed by Singh (1993), which were extensively criticized for their poor realism and therefore unreliable results (Rilling et al., 2009; Tovée et al., 1999). The same criticism pertains to schematic drawings of the female body developed by other researchers (e.g., Marlowe, Apicella, & Reed, 2005; Tassinary & Hansen, 1998).


A change of waist width or hips width alone (whether applied to drawings or to high-quality photographs) influences not only WHR but also body mass and therefore body mass index (BMI); narrowing the waist or hips decreases BMI, while widening them increases BMI. If figures to be assessed differ from one another both in WHR and BMI, it is difficult to establish the most preferred WHR. Low-WHR silhouettes were usually obtained by narrowing the waist (rather than widening the hips) so the high ratings of silhouettes with marked waist incision obtained could reflect a preference for low BMI rather than low WHR (Rilling et al., 2009; Tovée et al., 1999). Importantly, low BMI is indeed preferred in industrialized populations (Brooks et al., 2010; Tovée et al., 1999).


The WHR of the prepared silhouettes were usually calculated as the ratio between width of waist and hips on two-dimensional images whereas the appropriate method is to determine the ratio between their circumferences (Rilling et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2007; World Health Organization, 2011). Estimations provided by both methods can differ to the extent that the shapes of horizontal section at the level of waist and hips differ from each other. In epidemiological studies, which showed that WHR is related to many health indices, the parameter was measured as the ratio of circumferences. Research on attractiveness should then use the circumference-based WHR to make their results comparable with epidemiological data and to establish whether the most preferable WHR coincides with that associated with the best health.


In the present study, we attempted to determine the most preferred female WHR by using silhouette stimuli free of the abovementioned weaknesses. First, stimulus images were made on the basis of a photograph of a woman possessing body proportions typical for local (Polish) females. Second, relying on anthropometric data for the three-dimensional shape of the female body, rear-view silhouettes of various WHR but equivalent BMI were manufactured (rear view imaging was used to exclude the confounding effects of face and breast appearance on attractiveness perception). Third, for each two-dimensional female silhouette, circumference-based WHR was estimated. Finally, WHR of women depicted by the silhouettes ranged from .60 to .85 by .01, which allowed participants to more precisely express their preferences.


Color (top) and black (bottom) versions of silhouettes representing women with typical body proportions but diversified in body mass: light (left), average (middle), and heavy (right), corresponding to body mass index of 18.5, 21, and 25. Each silhouette was further digitally manipulated to produce figures varying in WHR (Color figure online)


The magnitude of changes in overall body width (to alter BMI) and in waist and hip width (to alter WHR) as determined in Microsoft Excel was then graphically applied to images of rear-view silhouettes using author-developed software (in Microsoft Visual Basic 6). Images were manipulated by means of warping, a common technique for image distortion used in many studies on attractiveness of faces (e.g., Perrett, May, & Yoshikawa, 1994) and silhouettes (e.g., Kościński, 2012). The resultant 156 images (2 color versions 3 BMI levels 26 WHR levels) were saved to JPG files (Fig. 3).


Examples of stimuli silhouettes: color version of average-weight woman (body mass index equal to 21) with WHR being .60, .65, .70, .75, .80, and .85. Altogether, stimuli included six series (color/black light/average/heavy), each containing 26 silhouettes varying in WHR from .60 to .85 by .01 (Color figure online)


We then conducted a GLM analysis with BMI and coloration as repeated variables and order of series in respect of color and BMI, and the initial WHR value as grouping variables. The analysis revealed the main effects of silhouette coloration, F(1, 36) = 8.78, η 2 = .20, p = .005, BMI, F(2, 72) = 5.93, η 2 = .14, p = .004, and the order of series in respect of color, F(1, 36) = 4.37, η 2 = .11, p = .044; no interaction term was significant. These effects indicated that a lower WHR was preferred on color (M = .71) than black silhouettes (M = .72), on light (M = .71) and average (M = .71) than heavy silhouettes (M = .73), and when black (M = .70) rather than color (M = .73) silhouettes were presented first in the series.


Lower WHR values were preferred for color (i.e., more realistic) than black silhouettes, and the width-based estimation of WHR obtained from front- or rear-view photographs noticeably underestimates the true, circumference-based WHR obtained from measurements of live subjects. These findings compound the doubt about the accuracy of results obtained in previous studies and underscores the importance of stimulus quality in research on human preferences.


This study aims to examine the associations between BMI, disordered eating attitude, body dissatisfaction in female adolescents, and descriptive attributes assigned to silhouettes of varying sizes in male and female adolescents, aged 11 to 15, in rural South Africa. Height and weight were measured to determine BMI. Age and sex-specific cut-offs for underweight and overweight/obesity were determined using the International Obesity Task Force cut-offs. Body image satisfaction using Feel-Ideal Discrepancy (FID) scores, Eating Attitudes Test-26 (EAT-26), and perceptual female silhouettes were collected through self-administered questionnaires in 385 adolescents from the Agincourt Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance System (HSDSS). Participants self-reported their Tanner pubertal stage and were classified as early pubertal ( 2). Mid to post pubertal boys and girls were significantly heavier, taller, and had higher BMI values than their early pubertal counterparts (all p


Few studies [8, 20, 21] have been conducted on eating attitudes and body image in adolescents from South African rural communities who have recently been shown to be at high risk of overweight and obesity [22, 23], the prevalence of which is expected to increase as these communities continue along the nutrition transition [24]. In this study, we aim to examine BMI, disordered eating attitudes, female body dissatisfaction and descriptive attributes assigned to silhouettes of varying sizes, amongst male and female adolescents in rural South Africa.


The descriptive characteristics of the participants by sex and pubertal stage of development are presented in Table 1. A total of 44.7% participants were classified as early pubertal (12.41.1 years of age) and 55.3% participants (14.51.3 years of age) were classified as mid to post pubertal. Within the early pubertal group, boys were significantly older than the girls in the same pubertal group, but there were no significant differences in weight, height or BMI between boys and girls in the early pubertal stage. Within the mid to post pubertal group, there was no significant difference in age, however, the girls were significantly heavier and shorter and had a higher BMI than the boys. Mid to post pubertal boys and girls were significantly older, heavier, taller, and had a higher BMI than their early pubertal counterparts (all p


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