Believe it or not, scientific studies find facial fat deposits are one of the strongest determinants of attractiveness in a female face. Reduced levels of fatty deposits in the face can signal “health, youth and status” (Thornhill & Grammar, 1999).
Researchers from the University of Pretoria and Sefako Makgatho Health Science University in South Africa have corroborated these findings. “Facial adiposity has consistently been linked to perceptions of attractiveness and health, with heavier faces being judged to be more unattractive and unhealthier.
“Cues related to facial adiposity can be reliably detected by participants and also reliably used to make inferences about another person’s body weight. Due to the strong relationship between body weight and negative health outcomes, accurate judgment of facial cues related to body weight, is a key factor in allowing us to make inferences about another person’s health.” (Jager et al, 2018). These researchers explained that lower adiposity (or facial fat) was considered attractive because it very accurately indicates health (“participants could reliably estimate BMI from facial cues alone” (Jager et al, 2018) ). “people can detect changes in BMI as small as […] 1.6 kg/m2 in female faces” (Jager et al, 2018). “In addition to the strong relationship between BMI and health outcomes, [there is also] a strong link between cheek adipose tissue and visceral abdominal fat” (Jager et al, 2018).
Facial adiposity or the perceived weight (from observing a face) has been linked to both the “physical and psychological condition” (Tinlin et al, 2013) of women and may “serve as a valid cue to mental health in females,” (Jager et al, 2018). Anatomically, the “BMI [or body mass index also] affects cheekbone prominence in females” as “fat tends to be deposited on the cheeks and chin” and high BMI’s “correlate [..] with [..] higher fWHR” (facial width to height ratio) (Hodges-Simeon et al, 2021). Low facial adiposity has even been linked to increased longevity (Reither et al, 2009) and can “enhance the healthy appearance of faces” (Stephen et al, 2017).
There is a strong body of evidence for this relationship, dating from 1999 (Thornhill & Grammar) to 2021 (Hodges-Simeon). This robust coalition of research-based studies shows how and why lower facial fat makes a woman look more attractive.
Thornhill, R., Grammer, K., 1999. The body and face of woman: One ornament that signals quality? Evolution and Human Behavior. 20 (2), 105–120. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1090-5138(98)00044-0
Hodges-Simeon, C. R., Albert, G., Richardson, G. B., McHale, T. S., Weinberg, S. M., Gurven, M., Gaulin, S. J. C., 2021. Was facial width-to-height ratio subject to sexual selection pressures? A life course approach. PLOS ONE 16 (3): e0240284. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240284
Jager, S. d., Coetzee, N., Coetzee, V., 2018. Facial Adiposity, Attractiveness, and Health: A Review. Front. Psychol. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02562
Tinlin, R. M., Watkins, C. D., Welling, L. L., DeBruine, L. M., Al-Dujaili, E. A., Jones, B. C., 2013. Perceived facial adiposity conveys information about women’s health. Br J Psychol. 104 (2). 235-48. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8295.2012.02117.x.
Reither, E. N., Hauser, R. M., Swallen, K. C., 2009. Predicting adult health and mortality from adolescent facial characteristics in yearbook photographs. Demography. 46 (1):27-41. DOI: 10.1353/dem.0.0037.
Stephen, I. D., Hiew, V., Coetzee, V., Tiddeman, B. P., Perrett, D. I., 2017. Facial Shape Analysis Identifies Valid Cues to Aspects of Physiological Health in Caucasian, Asian, and African Populations. Frontiers in Psychology. 8. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01883