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Is Skinny on Its Way Out? Study Shows that Muscular Women Are Considered More Attractive than Thin Peers

Almost every woman wishes that she could have the body of a Victoria’s Secret Model or a beauty pageant winner – but surprisingly, models don’t even find their own stick-thin, leggy figure, desirable. According to a recent study, society’s perception of what an ideal female body should look like has evolved with time, and skinny females aren’t considered as attractive.

Fitness Models Become Popular

Female representation in the fitness industry has been growing over the past few years as the hashtag #strongnotskinny takes over social media and several models and celebrities take it to Instagram and Snapchat to show off their muscular bodies. Fitness bloggers such as Kayla Itsines have also turned into international celebrities with millions of female social media followers, who are inspired to get a toned body like their fitness idols.

Instagram has especially played a crucial role in making the fitness trend popular among women as millions of photos of strong, athletic women are considered as ‘fitspiration’ for social media followers. It’s safe to say that skinny is on its way out as strong, fuller, stronger physique gains popularity among women.

Apparently, society’s perception of what an ideal female body should look like has evolved with time, and skinny females are no longer the most attractive ones

Evolving Beauty Standards in the Pageant Industry

Recent studies used judging criteria for popular beauty pageants as well as ratings from women across the country to show how much the perception of a perfect female figure has evolved in the United States. Two studies were conducted at the University of Missouri by Fraces Bozsik and his team who looked into Miss USA competitions over the past several years to determine how the judging criteria for the beauty pageant has evolved.

The contestants of the competition are judged mostly on their appearance and how well they hold up to the current beauty standards of the industry. The researchers took photographs of Miss USA beauty pageant winners from 1999 to 2013 and showed them to almost 80 women in the university asking the participants to rate the bikini-clad winners in the photographs depending on how attractive, skinny and muscular they looked.

Through the participants ratings, researchers concluded that Miss USA winners, although still as slim as they used to be two decades ago, had become increasingly muscular over time indicating that the perception of an ideal female body had changed in the pageant industry and the current beauty standards leaned more towards a slim and athletic figure.

Strong is Better than Skinny

The ideal female body has now changed and  the current beauty standards are leaning more towards a slim and athletic figure.

Another study conducted at the same university and by the same research team asked 64 female undergraduate students to observe the same model in two different images, one in which she appeared slim and the other slim and muscular. The researchers had used a photo editing software to smooth out the model’s muscle definition to create two different images of her body for a fair comparison.

Participants were first shown the two images separately and asked them to rate each as attractive or unattractive. Then, both images were presented together for comparison and participants were asked to identify which image they found more attractive.

The Role of Social Media Celebrities in Promoting Muscularity Among Women

Upon seeing the photographs of the model separately, almost all participants rated both body types as attractive but when asked to compare the images side-by-side, the muscular physique won the popular vote. Bozsik commented on the results of the study saying that muscularity and leanness are the signs of physical fitness, which is often perceived as attractive in the eyes of men and women. Moreover, A-list female celebrities and top models are promoting a fit, healthy lifestyle and encouraging their millions of female fans to lift weight and become stronger.

Social media has also played a part in making muscularity more common among women. Currently, the hashtag #strongnotskinny has over 6 million posts on Instagram from women all around the word sharing their weight loss and fitness journey. Where the fear of getting bulky had once forced women to steer clear from heavy weights, the strong muscular appearance is now considered a desirable physical trait.

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