Lesbian and bisexual women's judgments of the attractiveness of different body types

A. B. Cohen, I. J. Tannenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Two studies were conducted using the Internet with 209 and 141 women respectively who reported themselves as being lesbian or bisexual, but not heterosexual. Women were presented with 8 figures in which weight (slender or heavy), waist-to-hip ratio (0.7 or 1.0), and breast size (small or large) were varied independently. Participants rated figures on a 20-point scale for attractiveness, healthiness, femininity, kindness, and desirability for both short-term and long-term relationships. These ratings were summed to give a total preference score as a factor analysis showed that all ratings loaded positively on one factor. In the second study, women were also asked to rate themselves on the degree to which they were gender-conforming or gender-nonconforming. In both studies, participants preferred the heavy figure with the 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio and large breasts. The same figure with small breasts was the next most preferred. In the second study, there was no difference between gender-conforming and gender-nonconforming women in preference scores. We believe that a preference on the part of nonheterosexual women for heavy figures may reflect more comfort with heavier body weight as well as a rejection of what may be seen as an inappropriate societal fixation on excessive thinness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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