James Bond might have got it right. An anthropologist from New Zealand claims the key to attracting men lies in a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 for women. Active! gets experts to break down the magical number, considered to be indicative of fertility
Pop singer Shakira may not have been far from the truth when she sang 'Hips Don't Lie'.
According to anthropologist Barnaby Dixson from New Zealand's Victoria University, personality, breast size or weight don't figure (pardon the pun!) when heterosexual men are sizing up a potential mate.
The real clincher is a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 or a waist measurement that is 70% of the hip circumference.
Dixson claims to have reached this conclusion after researching what men found attractive in women across cultures and over time.
Dixson explained that it was likely that the 0.7 ratio sent a biological signal to men that a woman was fertile and likely to produce healthy offspring, no matter what size or body shape that woman had.
Examples of women who could boast of having this iconic ratio include model Kate Moss, and actresses Jessica Alba and Marilyn Monroe.
So, does the ratio guarantee higher fertility levels? Dr Aniruddha Malpani, Medical Director, Malpani Infertility Clinic, says, "Beliefs stem from the culture of the times.
In evolutionary terms, the importance of the ratio could have had to do with women dying in childbirth. If the baby had a larger head, which could get obstructed during delivery, it would mean death for the woman.
Hence, a larger pelvic structure meant greater chances of the woman's survival and possibility to have more babies at a later stage, leading to the belief that she was more fertile.
The research may have been relevant 10,000 years ago but is far-fetched in today's scenario."
Fitness experts and nutritionists believe the research has more to do with being fit, irrespective of body type, rather than with maintaining a particular proportion.
Says Zareen Watson, fitness consultant and founder of Watson Fitness, "If you are a healthy person, your body will have a good waist-to-hip ratio as per your body type.
By combining strength-training and cardio exercises, you can shed weight from storage areas like the hips making you look more proportionate," Zareen advises opting for compound exercises that work more than one muscle group.
"A combination of exercises will increase lean body mass and increase metabolism rate, and help you burn calories even after you are done exercising.
Instead of working on a specific muscle group in isolation, it is better to exercise as many muscle groups as possible as the added effort burns more calories," she adds.
Zareen recommends lunges, squats and chest presses thrice a week with weights, as ideal exercises to tone the waist and the hip. Adding cardio exercises like brisk walking, running or playing any sport help too, she adds.
Apart from lunges and squats, fitness consultant Deanne Pandey feels that pilates are a great workout as they target the muscles in the hip, lower back, waist and ab areas.
"Belly dancing, swimming, and martial arts all help burn fat from the waist and hip regions and make these areas look proportionate," she states.
Jacqueline Fernandez, Mandira Bedi, Pia Trivedi, Lara Dutta, Malaika Arora-Khan and Sonam Kapoor have the ideal waist-to-hip ratio, according to the experts.
A carefully planned diet can go a long way in achieving the perfect waist-to-hip ratio.
Says nutritionist Anjali Peswani, "If you want to lose weight around your waist and hips, you can opt for a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, including grains like bajra, ragi, jowar and wholewheat.
Avoid white bread and semolina (rava) and reduce the intake of foods loaded with sugar and fat. Eat fruits, including apples, sweet limes, oranges and pears."
To gain weight around the hips, Anjali advises women to increase their protein consumption by including milk products, chicken, fish, eggs as well as pulses and dried fruits in their diet.
Lunges: Stand with shoulders straight and relaxed, chin up, chest upright and weights in both hands. With the hips tucked under and belly contracted, put the right foot in front and lunge at a 90 degree angle. Return to original position and repeat with the left leg. Alternate 15 times.
Squats: Stand with shoulders straight and relaxed, feet apart, chin up, chest upright and weights in both hands. Squat as if you are sitting on a chair. Hold and come back to the original position. Make sure your neck and spine are aligned. Repeat 15 times.
Measure your waist at its narrowest, followed by the measurement of your hips at their widest. Jot down each of the measurements in inches. Divide the number for your waist by the number for your hips to get your waist-to-hip ratio.
Your waist-to-hip ratio may not be in perfect proportion, but you can always create the illusion with the right clothes.
For women with slim hips: Fashion designer Nachiket Barve advises layering to create the illusion of the ideal waist-to-hip ratio. "Do a play of proportions by pairing up a cardigan with a dress or a jacket with a top over jeans. Add more elements to what you are wearing so that it highlights the more flattering aspects of your body like your arms and legs."
For women who are bottom-heavy: "Avoid chunky belts if you have large hips, as that draws attention to the area. You can also use colour by creating a colour block. Wear a deep colour on top with a brighter colour inside. A pleated top with a slim-fit legging can also create the illusion of proportion."
Barnaby Dixson also found that men who spend hours in the gym bulking up to impress women might be wasting their time. Turns out the ladies prefer lean men, which might explain why Twilight's Robert Pattinson scores over Transporter 3's bulkier Jason Statham. 'On a biological level, women are more likely to pick a leaner, even a slightly more effeminate man as they equate those physical traits with being more caring and gentle, and therefore a better prospect as a partner,' Dixson stated in the study.
Does the 0.7 waist-hip ratio really work for guys?
Why only men? Even women look for the hip-to-waist ratio in men: the larger the wallet, the bigger the hips and higher the chances of getting the woman. I have been too busy protecting my own ass to gaze at a woman's.
Vir Das, comedian
I think this study is rubbish. Researchers are just people who are not getting enough action between the sheets. Personally, I look for a woman who is comfortable with her body and blessed with an attractive bone structure.
Yudhishtir Urs, TV host and actor
Men do notice a woman's hips whether she is wearing a sari or low-waist jeans. To give a simple example, a pop star like Shakira may not be buxom but it's the contortion of her hips that makes her so appealing to men.
Jithesh Jayaprakash, senior account executive
Honestly, I don't believe this study and I don't think men are attracted to women purely on the strength of a ratio. I, for one, find petite girls very hot.
Indranil Rath, student
Yoga expert Shameem Akhtar advises you on asanas to achieve the 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio:
Parivritti konasana (Twisted angle pose): Sit with legs out. Fold left leg at knee, placing left sole along the right thigh. Inhale, placing your right hand along right leg, holding the right big toe. This may initially be hard to execute, so reach for the leg where you can hold it. Exhale, lifting left arm high, and passing it over the head to grasp the right wrist. Then, inhale. Exhaling twist deeper, to look up at the ceiling from under the arm. This will intensify the stretch further. Initially, hold for just a short while, breathing normally. Do three times. Later, as flexibility and strength is acquired, extend duration to half a minute in the final pose.
Sarpasana (Serpent pose): Lie on your stomach. Rest chin on mat. Interlock fingers, placing hands behind on hips. Inhale, lifting chin off the ground. Simultaneously lift hands off hips. The higher you raise the chest, the more the chest opens up, and the supportive tissue under the breasts tones up. Continue normal breathing in the final pose, holding for at least five counts. Relax back to starting position with an exhalation. Repeat thrice. Later, with regular practice, increase duration to half a minute.
Salabhasana (Locust): This one is a simple version. Advanced versions are ideally learned from an expert. Lie on your stomach. Place hands out in front. Legs are stretched together behind. Inhale, lifting both hands and legs off the ground. Continue normal breathing holding the final pose for five counts. Release to return to starting position. Do five times. Later, progressively increase duration to 10 to 15 seconds in the final pose, doing thrice for toning.