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Determinants of Male Physical Attractiveness

In the perception of male attractiveness by the female amongst humans, the single most important aspect determining physical attractiveness across cultures is the height of the male. For the woman, the man should be at least a few inches taller than her in order to be perceived as handsome. It would be preferable if the man is at least a little above the average in height in the given population of males. This implies that women look for signs of dominance and power as factors that determine male beauty. Other properties that enhance perception of male attractiveness are a slightly larger chest than the average, and an erect posture. Women seem more receptive to an erect posture than men, though both prefer it as an element of beauty.

During the social revolutions following the Second World War, the concept of male beauty became increasingly accepted by mainstream male populations in the West (previously, the idea of a man being preoccupied with his appearance was considered slightly abnormal). The beginning of the rise of the gay movement in the late-twentieth century Western world began to influence consideration of what was physically attractive in men. Today, certain characteristics are generally accepted throughout the Western world as signs of physical attractiveness. These are, of course, far from universal:

1) A muscular physique. This largely arose as a social backlash against effeminate homosexual men - in order to set themselves apart, many straight and gay men built muscular bodies as a symbol of their masculinity. Today, muscular physiques are generally desired by most men in the West, but extreme over-development can be viewed as undesirable to some women. However, muscularly defined bodies are generally considered highly attractive as an indicator that the man engages in sports and exercise. Amongst the gay community, a muscled body is generally considered highly attractive. Male physiques which are not accepted as attractive by large sectors of society are - fat (often perceived as a sign that the man is either lazy or greedy) and overly slim bodies (seen as indicative of the man not engaging in sports or exercise).

2) A unique hairstyle. Amongst African-Americans and black men throughout the West, a shaved head or very short hair is currently considered attractive, possibly having an influence in increased Caucasian and Asian men adopting the hairstyle. However, the popularity of particular hairstyles changes constantly. Hairsyles are very easy to alter, are generally the least conformist expression of individuality, and as a result men can be regarded as attractive regardless of the form of their hair.

3) A facial structure which accentuates skeletal features. In Western societies, men and women of all races often agree that a face with pronounced cheekbones and often a heavily-set jaw is physically attractive. These are currently viewed as indicative of a masculine personality. These skeletal features in addition to a slightly elongated face can make the masculinity more heightened and the male much more attractive.

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