Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
King, R. J.
Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy
Baby Got Back: Some Brief Observations on Obesity in Ancient Female Figurines: Limited Support for Waist to Hip Ratio Constant as a Signal of Fertility
In Press
Optional Fields
Obesity Fertility Venus figurines

Venus figurines—such as the famous Willendorf Venus--provide a possible window into the reproductive preferences of ancestral humans. These figurines cover a period of about 20000 years of human history and have been found across ice-age Europe. There are a number of unknowns about such figurines. For example, they may be votive offerings, idealisations, or have some as-yet, unguessed-at function. Ancient figurines typically display body types typically considered obese by modern standards of medicine and aesthetics. While some have averred that such figurines show a marked change in human body preferences over thousands of years it is possible that this has been an artifact of particular approaches to measuring such figurines. Measuring a fuller extent of the markers of fat deposition seems to support a case for arguing that male preferences have broadly tracked fertility markers over ancestral time. The waist-to-hip ratio is arguably a more important fertility marker than obesity per se—and a 0.7 ratio has been found cross-culturally and in this sample. It is likely that such preferences have been further calibrated by local ecological variations—for example as regards food supply—but these calibrations would not have a great impact on proportionality preferences. Great caution must be taken in reading too much into such a limited sample.

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