More women seeking breast augmentation are opting for smaller sizes than previously. Although most procedures are performed to increase breast size, a growing number are breast reductions. Why the change?
The Psychology of Breasts
Critics of modern media often complain that the female body is overused in advertising and entertainment. They certainly have a point. The expression, “sex sells,” applies mainly to images of attractive women, but there are good evolutionary reasons why this is the case.
Evolution shaped the female face and form more extensively than is true of any other female mammal. Permanently enlarged breasts are a sexually-selected trait analogous to the colorful tail plumage of male peacocks
Such displays are designed by evolution to attract attention, which explains why large breasts are so overused in advertising.
Women’s history of sexual selection has a number of important implications for human social behavior. They include the following:
- Women are perceived as more physically attractive than men despite some remodeling of masculine body shape, face, and facial hair to enhance sexual attractiveness.
- Physical appearance is more important for social perception of women than men
- Women’s popularity as mates is still heavily influenced by their physical attractiveness.
- Females of our species expend a lot more effort, and expense, in enhancing their physical appearance than men.
In addition to these generalizations, the breasts play a role in sexual attraction and sexual behavior that is unique amongst mammals. In every society, breasts are stimulated during foreplay. They are neurally connected to brain regions representing the genitals and are therefore supplementary sexual organs.
Changing Standards of Bodily Attractiveness for Women
Evolutionary psychologists and anthropologists introduced the idea that physical attractiveness operates as a signal of biological quality in general and capacity to produce healthy offspring in particular.
Such signals are particularly important for women because female fertility is curtailed by age. Given that long term pair bonds are found in most human societies, it makes sense for men to be most attracted to women at the start of their reproductive career, typically beginning in their early twenties.
Having narrow waists, and plentiful fat stores around the breasts and buttocks is an outward sign of a hormone profile indicative of fertility and youth. For those reasons, women with curvaceous bodies are perceived as sexually attractive and fertile throughout the world and this perception is enhanced for unusually curvaceous women like Marilyn Monroe. Women with breast augmentation thus replicate this stronger sexual signal.