Perfect Female Body Measurements – The Hourglass Shape

Perfect Female Body Measurements

This is the “skinny-model look”. These women lack curves and this is not the physique we will be talking about in this article.

The primary predictors of beauty in the female body are a low BMI and a curvaceous figure. Discover the perfect female body measurements..

*This is a follow-up to my previous post on the perfect male body measurements

The title of this article is misleading because society’s views on beauty in the female body are subjective and vary based on culture and time.

What was considered beautiful a hundred years ago is not necessarily what we consider beautiful today.

That being said:

In a social experiment conducted in 2012, researchers asked “What is the ideal body size that we find most attractive in women?”1

80 participants (40 male, 40 female, average age: 19, Caucasian decent) were selected to use an image manipulation program and set up their view of the ideal female body by altering the body dimensions.

Researchers found that the depiction of the ideal female body chosen by both men and women were fairly consistent based on:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) = masskg/heightm2
  • Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR) = Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Hips
  • Waist-to-chest Ratio (WCR)= Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Chest

According to women:

  • BMI: 18.9
  • WHR: 0.7
  • WCR: 0.6

According to men:

  • BMI: 18.8
  • WHR: 0.73
  • WCR: 0.69

Researchers concluded:

For both sexes, the primary predictor of female beauty is a relatively low BMI combined with a relatively curvaceous body.

What Does This Mean For You?

Society has conditioned us to have certain perceptions.

In terms of the perfect female body, society advertises big breasts, wide hips, and a narrow waist. This is the look that is considered “sexy” today and the one that many women strive for.

There are three ways (four, if you count liposuction) through which you can alter your body’s shape and appearance:

A lot of women are misinformed when it comes to aligning their diet and exercise programs with their goals.

Common Mistakes Women Make When Trying To Get In Shape

Not The Perfect Female Body

This woman lacks curves. This is not the body we are talking about.

Women are often caught up between what they read in magazines, the advice of their unqualified husband or boyfriend, and society’s expectations of what they should look like.

The top mistake women make when dieting is to cut their calories too drastically.

This is referred to as “crash dieting”.

Crash dieting can lead to fast weight loss in the first couple of weeks.

However:

It is not sustainable in the long run and when returning back to normal eating habits all the lost weight is regained.

A proper nutrition plan involves changing eating habits in a way that does not shock your body so that weight loss can be sustained and maintained in the long run.

Avoid the top 5 mistakes women make in the gym.

1. Too Much Cardio

Cardio is most effective for people who are overweight and/or new to exercise. Overtime, however, the body adapts and begins to use energy and oxygen from more convenient sources, i.e. muscle tissue.

Excessive cardio is also related to an increased appetite for sugary foods to replace the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is lost during periods of chronic stress.

The main way cardio hinders your fat loss efforts is through the increased production of the hormone cortisol.

Cortisol is catabolic, i.e. it uses up muscle tissue and slows down protein synthesis.

Less muscle mass equates to a slower metabolism and a slower metabolism leads to your body burning fewer calories during rest.

Other effects of high cortisol include:

  • Increased insulin resistance making the body unable to tap into fat stores for energy.
  • Imbalanced ghrelin and leptin levels (hormones that regulate hunger).
  • Suppressed growth hormone and testosterone levels (associated with increased fat gain).

Avoid running on the treadmill at the same speed for prolonged periods of time.

Numerous studies have found High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to be most effective for fat loss2 3 4.

A typical HIIT session involves a brief period of sprinting followed by a longer period of walking.

Sample HIIT workout:

15 second sprint followed by 45 second walk, for a total of 15 minutes.

2. Fear Of Getting Broad

Most women either use weights that are too light or they don’t lift weights at all.

Sure, diet and cardio may help you drop a some fat.

But what will be under it?

The answer is:

Not much! You will still feel flabby.

Lifting weights is what will develop tone and reveal the overall appealing shape of your body.

You will not develop curves using 5lb dumbbells.

Use weights that allow you to complete 8-15 reps. Don’t be afraid to progress up to using the 20, 30, or even 40 lb dumbbells.

Remember:

More muscle mass also means a faster metabolism. A faster metabolism means your body will burn more calories at rest.

Don’t worry:

Your muscles will not grow beyond your aesthetic ideal… unless you overfeed them.

This is where keeping your diet in check comes into play.

3. Attempting To Shrink The Waist With Excessive Ab Training

I have observed women in the gym diligently doing crunches, side bends, leg raises, and various other ab exercises day after day.

Although the myth of spot reducing fat stores has long been busted, many women still believe that they can shrink their waist by training their abs.

Sure:

Ab training can pronounce the muscles of the core and create a tighter stomach, but it will not do much to cut down the fat.

Training your abs 2-3 times a week is more than enough.

Your fat loss efforts should be focused on diet and an HIIT routine.

4. Repetitive Workouts

When you work your muscle, you are essentially breaking it down.

In order for muscle growth, you need to allow time for recovery.

Remember:

Your muscles grow outside the gym.

If you are doing the same workout everyday you are either:

1) Not allowing enough time for the muscles to recover

or

2) Not working out hard enough

Break up your workout split to train each muscle group once a week.

Sample breakdown:

5. Inadequate Post Workout Nutrition

After a workout your muscles are depleted of glycogen and craving nutrients.

It is important to get a proper post-workout meal in order for your body to ignite the muscle repair process.

A good benchmark for a proper post-workout meal is about 30 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs.

Experiment to see how your body best responds.

During the hour after a tough workout your muscles are like sponges. They absorb much of what is consumed. It is very difficult for your body to gain fat during the post-workout window. Your body drives the nutrients straight to the muscle rather than storing them.

The 1-hour post-workout window is also the best time for you to consume your guilty pleasures.

The 3 Key Proportions for The Perfect Female Body

The Goddess Venus

Venus is the Roman goddess whose functions revolved around love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity, and desire

In a previous post, I discussed how ancient Greek sculptors based their depiction of the perfect male body on the Golden Ratio.

In summary:

The Golden Ratio (1.618…) is an irrational number, i.e. goes on forever, that occurs throughout nature and can serve as a guide for aesthetic proportions in the human body.

Plastic surgeons use the Golden Ratio in reconstructive surgery and magazine artists use it to touch up their cover models.

For a man, the closer his shoulder-to-waist ratio is to 1.618 the closer his body is to the “Divine Proportion”.

For a woman’s body, the dimensions are expressed in terms of the circumference of three inflection points:

  • Waist
  • Bust/Shoulders
  • Hips

The human eye tends to track these three points as a curve and perceives the curve as the visual shape of the body.

Again:

Our vision of the perfect female body is largely influenced by the media and tends to vary over time*.

*Check out this article on how our perception of the perfect female body has changed over the past century.

That being said, I have laid out a benchmark for each of the waist, bust, and hip measurements.

Getting closer to these measurements will not only have your body being recognized as “sexy” by society’s standards, but will also be defined as “fitness” level by the American Council on Exercise5.

Note: All measurements are in inches

1) Waist Measurement=Height x 0.375

Wrap the tape at the narrowest point around the hips 

2) Bust Measurement=Waist Measurement x 1.5

Wrap the tape at the widest part around the chest

3) Hip Measurement: Same as Bust Measurement

Wrap the tape at the widest part around the buttocks. 

For a woman that is 5 ft 4 in, this would imply the measurements of 36-24-36, i.e. 36″ bust, 24″ waist and 36″ hips.

Examples of The Perfect Female Body

The measurements above are for the classic “hourglass figure”.

Celebrities with Perfect Female Body Measurements

Examples of Celebrities With Hourglass Figures

Kim Kardashian, Jessica Biel, and Jennifer Lawrence are all women who have physiques that closely resemble the measurements as listed above.

Today, this is the look that our society considers “sexy”.

Also:

Unlike the skinny model look, these women are in good physical condition.

*Kim Kardashian has also been known for using a waist trainer as a means to get to her hourglass figure. 

What It Comes Down To

What are YOUR goals?

What do YOU want to look like?

Don’t fall prey to society’s pressures of what you should look like.

That being said, most women have similar goals when it comes to getting in shape:

  • Lose Fat
  • Get Toned

You can check out the VFX program for a structured approach towards achieving these two goals.

REFERENCES

  1. Crosley, Kara (2012). “What Is an Attractive Body? Using an Interactive 3D Program to Create the Ideal Body for You and Your Partner“. American Transcendental Quarterly.
  2. Gorostiaga, Esteban (1991). “Uniqueness of interval and continuous training at the same maintained exercise intensity“. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology.
  3. King, Jeffery (2001). “A Comparison of the Effects of Interval Training vs. Continuous Training on Weight Loss and Body Composition in Obese Pre-Menopausal Women“. East Tennessee State University.
  4. Talanian, Jason (2006). “Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women“. Journal of Applied Physiology. 
  5. Calculator for Body fat norms in men and women. The American Council on Exercise

Comments

  1. Daniel says

    My wife has recently been trying hard to loose the dreaded belly fat and get closer to what she refers to as “sexy.”

    She’s tried diets of one form or another and joined a “boot camp” and did it religiously for 6 months. She lost about 5 lbs then then stopped. Se was definitely getting stronger, firmer and even faster running and such but the weight just wasn’t coming off.

    She’s still struggling with not loosing the weight and after reading this article, I think I may know the why behind it better.

    I’ll ask my wife to read this article because it truly believe this will benefit her in her journey to loose.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this information together. It really makes sense.

    • Adam says

      When it comes to getting shape it is about making a commitment to the process.
      A step-by-step blueprint for how to do so can boost motivation and make things easier.
      Best of luck to your wife!

    • Jes says

      I speak from a lifetime of personal experience. The fastest way to lose body fat is to eat 15g protein & less than 10 carbs every 3 hours, no sugar or artificial sweetener, and drink an average of 120 oz of water a day (you pee out fat).

  2. CarolynCal1 says

    The more I read about perfect body, how to lose weight and look like a super model, etc… the more I realize that we don’t put things in the right order. I train to have more energy and eventually I got the benefit of losing weight but I will never be able to have an hour-glass shape because it’s just not my body type.
    That being said, I agree 100% with the 5 tips you gave about training and the false impressions women have about some them. Thanks!

    • Adam says

      Carolyn,

      As mentioned in the article, perfection is merely an ideal. It gives us something to strive for.
      This article is NOT advocating the super model look and rather is listing out some measurements you can determine to strive for. You may not think of yourself to have “that body type” but you can work to bring your measurements closer to the ones as listed.
      Hope it helped!

  3. Jasmine says

    I am incredibly disappointed in the article you have provided. Let me just clarify the differences between the shunned supermodel look and the advocated curvaceous look described in this article. Victoria secret models carry an ideal body measurement of 34-24-34 and a height of about 5″ 9 (HWR 0.705). Jessica Biel measures up at 36-26-36 and is 5″ 10 (HWR 0.722). Jennifer Lawrence is 35-26-36 and is 5″ 9. Kim K is the real outlier in this with 36-26.5-42 and is 5″ 2 who achieved that body through surgery and waist training (kim like many models also seems to have a little bit of body dysmorphia). To claim that one appears to be ‘starving themselves’, and the other to be sexy without knowing the diet and lifestyle of the individuals you are commenting on is rude and ridiculous, just as is the difference between what you consider bad and good. Literally 5cm or 2inches is what separate these women from the supermodel measurements. All the photographs provided by you have been proffesionally photoshopped. People need to stop making judgements about a person’s health simply bylooking at the way their bodies look. Especially in retouched photos. No body needs to be shunned in these photos as you so clearly have done in your “careful” observations. This article perpetuates self hatred in the mind of the woman and feeds the desire to conform to the unconformable standards that disillusion women into believing that it is your appearance and not your health that matters more.

    • Adam says

      Jasmine,

      It is clear that you did not read the article in its entirety because I clearly mention:

      “society’s views on beauty in the female body are subjective and vary based on culture and time.”

      You are right about the photoshopped pictures, but the point in providing them was to give a sample of what the hourglass shape looks like.

      Also:
      Health and appearance are two sides of the same coin. Looking good also means that you are in good health in terms of body fat levels and muscle composition.

      It seems like there is a deeper issue at root over here for you and I hope you can figure it out. ‘

      Best,
      Adam

      • hope92 says

        “It seems like there is a deeper issue at root over here for you and I hope you can figure it out.” – Wow. You clearly don’t have confidence in your own words, otherwise you wouldn’t need to resort to insinuating that Jasmine has ‘deeper issues’ simply for challenging your article.

        In contrast to your claim that you aren’t shaming any body-type, try re-reading this section – “This woman lacks curves and looks like she has been starving herself. This is NOT the look you should strive for.”

        Again, wow.

        • Adam says

          Hope92,

          This is what Jasmine put at the end of her comment: “This article perpetuates self hatred in the mind of the woman and feeds the desire to conform to the unconformable standards that disillusion women into believing that it is your appearance and not your health that matters more.”

          She is clearly going overboard there.

          The body-type that I am shaming is that of anorexia. Anorexia is a psychological disease and the woman in the picture you mention is clearly suffering from it.

          The point of this article is simple:
          I am basically saying that the way your body looks, i.e. your measurements, can serve as a strong indicator of your overall health as well.

          The intention wasn’t to “perpetuate self hatred in the mind of women”

          • Elsa says

            Ah, yes. Ladies, the male is the expert on what we should look like and how we should feel about what he thinks we should look like! How dare you let his article elicit the very feelings he intended not to elicit! Clearly, if his article elicits self-hatred, it is not his fault, but ours! Defer always to the male on how to look and how to feel! Oh, and never criticize him! His ego is too fragile.

      • Nirmani says

        Hi. Im 5 feet 2 inches tall and my weight is 61 kgs. My waist is 30 inches bust 38 and hips 39.5 inches. I know im far from perfect. But i like to be more beautiful than now. My wedding is after three months from now. Can i able to change my body in 3 months. Plz help me..

        • negin says

          Dear your not far from perfect…u r not that fat,just for loosing belly/waist fat,try cupping.that easy u can do at home.cupping would throw all that fat off your body,without sagging skin after reaching the ideal weight

  4. Ella says

    Hi, as a 38-28-38 I feel a lot better about my body now! I am 5 foot 9 and I don’t at all feel fat right now. I thought I should lose considerable weight but now I think I am okay.

  5. says

    I must say, this should be known to every lady. Especially how you emphasis on female bodies being advertised compare to the real ideal female body. What women also don’t understand is that most man love curvy women. I personally like them thick. Anyways, this is a great article and I already shared it with the close women in my life. Thank you.

  6. Ashleigh says

    My measurements are 35-28-36 and I am 66 inches tall what are my exact numbers I should be I tried to do the math but couldn’t figure it out

    • Adam says

      Hey Ashleigh,

      These formulas don’t have to be followed EXACTLY.
      My advice to you would be to diet down to a level of body fat that you feel comfortable and will be able to maintain.
      This body fat level will determine your ideal waist measurement.
      From this point, try and get your bust and hip measurements as close as possible to form the hourglass shape.

      Hope that helped.
      Cheers.

  7. Paris says

    I loved your article. What I’m having trouble with is that supposedly my waist is supposed to be 23″. I’m 5 ft 3, I workout 5 days a week (weights, yoga, and running) defeated anorexia by becoming more active & creating hunger for myself. I’m currently 125 lbs, 18% body fat (that’s great for females) & wear a size 6, bmi 22.1. When I weighed 110, my waist was 25″ & I was a size 2, hardly ate, rarely exercised. How on Earth am I to get my waist down to 23″?? My current measurements are 34″, 28″, 39″ (my hubby likes a big booty so I have built that up purposefully with strength training) Any healthy tips other than corset training are greatly appreciated!

    • Adam says

      Hey Paris,

      I’m glad that you liked this article.
      In terms of what your waist is supposed to be, don’t take these formulas as gospel.
      When determining your ideal waist size, the best thing to do is to diet down to a body fat percentage that you feel comfortable and see things from there.
      The waist is a measurement that can ONLY be altered in response to a change in body fat (exercise can’t alter the waist).
      Given that you have achieved an impressive 18% body fat, your current waist measurement should be fine.
      The main point of this article is to provide the image of a female body with maximum aesthetic appeal, i.e. one in which the bust and hips have a measurement as close as possible to form an hourglass.

      P.S. Please make sure that you are measuring your waist at the narrowest point below the ribs. I’m almost certain that you are not measuring your waist at the correct position.

      • Mikaila says

        Also, To add tho that. I have an incredibly wide rib cage, My bra size is about a 40 and there is maybe an inche of fat between my robs and skin on each side. So the bottom of my ribs I imagin are also very wide in comparison so I may never reach the ideal 23″ (I also am 5’3″) but that doesn’t mean I wont be healthy. It all depends on the build you have, some women are a small framed billed like my Friend who has a 32 inch rib cage and some are built like me so that should always be taken into consideration

  8. TAD says

    I’m 36x27x38, and 66 inches tall. When my hips were 36 inches, I had no butt. My current hip measurement is the result of me building up my glutes for the last year. I’m not going to beat myself up because I don’t have the “perfect female measurements”. These measurements are perfect for ME. I think women are way too hard on themselves as it is without trying to achieve the exactly so-called perfect proportions. General good health should be first and foremost. The feminine body in general is beautiful, and should be celebrated.

    • Adam says

      Completely agree with you.

      Ultimately you have to take an honest look in the mirror and decide for yourself whether you are happy with your body or not. The measurements laid out above are provided to give you something to compare yourself with. You do not have to match them exactly. As you say, the most important thing is good health, and there is definitely a relationship between being in good health and the way your body looks. You can’t be in good health while maintaining a body that is out of shape, and that is a major point of this article: having a body that closely resembles these measurements and being in good health go hand in hand.

  9. Katherine says

    This is the first health article on a website that I have seen actually list and source academic journal articles. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you putting in effort to write quality content. Thank you.

  10. Morgan says

    I’m a little upset with the very first sentence that says “these women starve themselves and are not healthy.”

    Excuse me, but you’re wrong. I’m thin as well, I have muscle, I have abs. I have definition in my lean legs. Guess what, it comes from hard work, exercising which IS healthy. And eating from the earth. I eat when I’m hungry, I eat meat, I eat lots of veggies and beans and grapefruit. I eat HEALTHY foods and it keeps me thin. We don’t STARVE ourselves. It’s amazing what happens when you eat from the earth. I eat hardly anything processed. I’m sure these women say the same. You don’t have to starve yourself to be thin! I eat all the time. It’s all about QUALITY of what you put into your body. So by pre-judging a thin woman by saying she’s like that because she doesn’t eat?? Do a little research. It’s impossible to be fat if you eat what God intended for us to eat.

    • says

      Or you could have been blessed with high metabolism. The point is some women are starving themselves too look like that. Consequently getting eating disorders such ad bulimia and anorexia. This is common in my age group 16-25 im 19 i weigh 150lbs 61 inches tall and im healthy in size that fits me my sizes are 36-26-38 im not perfect either but love my body and thats what every woman should do. They just need to love themselves

      • Morgan says

        I agree completely that everyone should love themselves. But being healthy is more important. Some
        People have higher metabolisms but last year I weighed 135 eating two meals a day, some junk snacks in between. Not balanced meals. And now I made a huge lifestyle change by cutting out the bad and something amazing happened to my body. Metabolisms bless people on the outside, but their insides may not be healthy. It’s not about what you look like on the outside. It’s how your body responds to disease and illness by reacting from what you FEED it. Everyone would be thin if everyone ate from the earth that’s the bottom line

        • Morgan says

          And I’m 115 now by the way, dropped twenty pounds just by feeding my body nutrients. Haven’t been sick, not even a cold in 9 months. My immune system is stronger than it’s ever been. I used to get sick all the time. I’m finally giving my body what it needs. We were made to eat from the earth, big corporations have turned us unhealthy.

          • Morgan says

            I wasn’t blessed with a high metabolism, I work hard to get my workouts in and prepare nutritious meals that don’t come out of boxes or packages. That’s all there is to it. People make excuses like “it runs in my family.” No, anyone can be thin- you just have to put in the effort. Period. I don’t sympathize! I work my ass off for my health. It’s not something I can just purchase off a shelf or in a fast food line. I spend hours in the kitchen making sure I get what I need.

  11. Madylyn says

    Women come in all different shapes and sizes. Typically pear, apple,hourglass and ruler. I am a trainer and life coach and encourage all women to embrace and honor who they are at all stages of fitness. We are not a one size fits all. Eat healthy, work out hard, lift heavy and enjoy the journey. Throw away these measuring sticks!!!! Be the best version of YOU. If your model thin or an hourglass, an apple or a pear please do not feel pressured to wear a corset, or get fake boobs or a fake butt. THROW AWAY THE MEASURING STICKS!!!!!!!

  12. Jes says

    I speak from a lifetime of personal experience. The fastest way to lose body fat is to eat 15g protein & less than 10 carbs every 3 hours, no sugar or artificial sweetener, and drink an average of 120 oz of water a day (you pee out fat).

  13. Mike says

    Just in case anyone’s confused/misled by this, there’s no such thing as a perfect shape. Men like different things depending on about a million different factors. Personally, I like the body type that, according to this article, “you should NOT strive for”. Skinny, gangly girls are my thing (maybe because I’m a skinny guy? who knows). Why the author insists on perpetuating the idea that there’s one right way to look is beyond me.

  14. Hi says

    My Measurements (P.s. I’m 5’9 and I weight varies around 115-125.5 is that healthy)

    31
    25
    30

    I’ve always been confused on how i can shrink my waist to my ideal waist size with is like around 22″. I have been doing alot of waist exercises that target the abs but what I’ve noticed on my body is that My ribecage is ALOT longer then other supermodels or females with smaller waists. I’m also trying to figure out if my body weight is even healthy! I’ve looked on alot of websites and it states that females who are 5″9 or up should be 140+lbs. Just a few months ago I was 115. I feel like this “Ideal body” look isn’t healthy. conidering that half of these models are taller than I am. I am a model as well but I’m scared if I will be too skinny or too fat in societys eyes. What do you recommend I do? Is my waist above or below average? Is my waist even small?

      • qol says

        You’re probably more ruler than hourglass, hourglass would mean you have a very defined waist (probably like 8+ inch difference, idk I’m not an expert)

  15. Alan says

    You wrote: “This is the “skinny-model look”. This is NOT the physique you should strive for. These women look like they starve themselves and are definitely NOT healthy.”

    I disagree substantially – this is the PERFECT physique to strive for IF that’s your genetic predisposition, and you want to work it. On what grounds do you claim to know that they are “definitely NOT healthy”?

    Slim or lean is not the same as anorexia or poor health AT ALL!!! Have you seen any distance runners or Crossfit athletes recently? Or just naturally skinny people?!?

    Given the global pandemic of obesity and sedentary lifestyle, jumping on the PC anti-lean bandwagon is hardly promoting health. We need to eat less and move more – A LOT MORE!!! And not just to look a certain way, but for benefits in virtually every area of life!

    “Don’t fall prey to society’s pressures of what you should look like.” Exactly! Including yours!!!

  16. Trinley says

    Adam, I don’t appreciate the comments you wrote below the picture at the top of your article. Bodies come in many shapes and sizes, obviously. Some women are naturally thin. You can’t look at a picture of a woman and declare her health status, regardless of whether she’s thin or thick. I’m naturally shaped like those women. I have been for 20 years since puberty, and I have never starved myself. Leave it to a woman’s doctor or dietician to determine her health status.

  17. amazonprincess1994@gmail.com says

    i am 89 inches tall and my measurements are 45-21-45 my doctor says im not healthy but i think i have a perfect hourglass do you agree with my doctor

  18. Madhu says

    A good read indeed. Practical tips and a good result oriented guide.
    Fitness, health is very very important. When it comes to women, I being a women feel that a good mix of cardio and weight training is a must. And no you don’t get those body builder muscles, instead you get a nice, beautiful toned body.
    This is also a fact that cardio shows fast results but not long lasting, whereas weight training actually helps to get a much fitter and healthy body.

    Diet, workout, good sleep is what gives one a body to die for.

    Thanx.

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