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Maybe she’s born with it, but it’s most definitely not Maybelline.

Ivana Lucic   22 February 2016 20:30

Brilio.net - We’ve discussed the different standards of international beauty already, but there are some that one just assumes to be international, such as good skin or small feet. In women especially, small feet represent daintiness and femininity and fertility. Cultures such as the Ancient Chinese even practices horrible torture methods of foot binding in order to achieve those dainty little feet that so many found endearing and womanly.

But a tribe in northern Sumatra has an interesting take on feet. In fact, they show a distinct preference for women with larger feet. Geoff Kushnick, a University of Washington anthropologist, published his finding in the Human Journal suggests that culture plays a large reason as to why the Karo Batak tribe find large feet more appealing. For one, it’s their lack of western media influence. But another more prominent reason would be the tribes’ agriculture lifestyle that would not benefit from small and dainty feet. Previous assumptions of beauty fall short in a rural and agriculture based society, as one man said: “How could anyone like a woman with small feet? How would she work in the rice fields?”

"Universal features of physical attractiveness are typically thought to suggest that mate choice criteria are hard-wired in humans and that they evolved tens of thousands of years ago," Kushnick said.

"This new research supports that idea that cultural transmission of mate preferences allows humans to adapt to local environments, and this may trump hard-wired preferences."

This is further supported by an earlier study that found an overall preference for women with small feet. Respondents from Iran, Lithuania, Brazil, the United States and India rated women with small feet more attractive, but those from Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania preferred women with big feet.

The conclusion was that both rural ecology and less exposure to Western media showed a statistical association with the preference for women with larger feet, whereas small feet were more desirable in urban societies with more exposure to Western media. 

The findings are interesting as they hint at evolutionary history of humans. Mate preferences drive sexual selection, so the preference for larger feet would no doubt be passed down the generations, only perpetuating the idea of what is beautiful through cultural selection.

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