Principle 9: Waist-to-Hip Ratio
A Sexier Measurement Than Bust Size
The original Xbox was ugly. A big, black box with a big green circle and an X through it. Why? The original Xbox used many of the same components used in desktop PCs, which saved on material costs at the expense of physical design. And while the Xbox did very well in sales, Microsoft hoped the console would find a home in the family living room and become the entertainment center, an all-in-one device for internet, gaming and movies. Moms had other ideas. It was a big, black box; it was not going in the living room.
When Microsoft set about designing the next generation, the Xbox360, appealing to Mom became a major design consideration. But it still had to appeal to the target market: boys. They needed something sleek, yet powerful. When finally released, Mom and the boys approved. It was a hit. It was slender, with just a bit of concavity in the center. Whether this was conscious design consideration for Microsoft or not, if you picture the base as the widest point on the hips, and the waist as the narrow point in the middle of the Xbox360, it’s approximately .9. This is the same purported waist-to-hip ratio as Bruce Lee. Sleek and powerful indeed.
What is the Waist-to-Hip Ratio?
The .9 waist-to-hip ratio is a near-universal ideal proportion for men. The appeal of a man with a .9 ratio crosses cultures according to social psychologists and according to medical researchers, a .9 indicates optimum levels of testosterone in men who have that ratio. Surveys of undergraduates and graduates, stereotypically a population keenly aware of human bodies, show that this preference crosses sexes, and is uninfluenced by weight or muscle development.
For women, the ideal is to have a waist-to-hip ratio of .7. And again, above all other considerations (bust size, lip plumpness, hair color), this proportion is preferred and indicates optimum levels of estrogen, according to researchers. If you look at the models and starlets past and present, from Marilyn Monroe to Gisele Bündchen, the ratio is consistently near .7 despite changes in other aesthetic preferences. A “Coke Bottle Figure” is an occasional description for shapely women, and guess what? One of the most iconic industrial designs, the Coke bottle, has a .7 waist-to-hip ratio.
What Can You Do With the Waist-to-Hip Ratio?
Mostly, it’s something we think about when we hit the gym!
But at work, we use it to choose the best models and stock images for your advertisements. The waist-to-hip ratio is not a primary design consideration; it’s an automatic discernment. We don’t get out our rulers; we trust our eyes. We pay conscious attention to matching our images with your target audiences, narrowing our choices by age, ethnicity, even hair color, because we select attractive models and images instinctively. Over the years, we’ve looked through thousands upon thousands of images and by experience, we know well proportioned when we see it.