How Americans feel about their romantic partner’s looks

Jamie BallardData Journalist
May 26, 2021, 5:15 PM UTC

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Americans tend to agree. Data from the YouGov Body Image Study 2021 finds that about two-thirds (68%) of Americans believe that physical beauty is subjective rather than objective.  

The study examined how Americans are feeling about their own bodies, but we also asked about what people thought of their partner’s attractiveness and what physical attributes they prefer in a significant other.   

About one in six coupled women believe they’re more attractive than their partner  

Among Americans who are in a romantic relationship, about half (47%) say they believe they and their partner are equally physically attractive. Among women, 52% hold this belief, while fewer men (41%) agree.  

Men (37%) in relationships are more than twice as likely as women (14%) to say that they think their partner is more physically attractive than they are. 

Another 12% of men and 17% of women say they believe they are more attractive than their romantic partner.  

Most women prefer a partner who is taller than them  

Women (63%) are more than 10 times as likely as men (6%) to say they prefer that their romantic partner be taller than they are. About one-quarter of women (24%) say they have no preference, while few say that they prefer a partner who is their height (7%) or shorter than them (2%).  

Among men, 40% say they have no preference when it comes to their partner’s height. Slightly fewer (36%) say they prefer for a partner to be shorter than they are, and 16% would like a same-height romantic partner.  
 
When it comes to a partner’s relative weight, 42% of women say that they have no preference. Another 22% of women say that they prefer for a partner to be about their size, while 16% want their partner to be less slim than they are. One in nine (11%) say they want their partner to be slimmer than they are.  

Among men, about two in five (38%) say they have no preference on their partner’s weight compared to their own. Another 25% say they prefer for a partner to be slimmer than they are, and 21% want a partner who is about their size. 

 
What body types do men and women find most attractive?  

Men tend to say they find slimmer women (44%) and shorter women (30%) attractive, while 25% say they find taller women attractive. Among women, 57% say they find taller men more attractive, and 22% also say they find slimmer men especially attractive. Close to one-quarter of women (23%) and 15% of men say that they “don’t mind any” body types.  

See full results here.  

Related: Most Americans believe the media promotes an unattainable body image for women 

Methodology: Total sample size was 1,302 US respondents 16+. Fieldwork was undertaken between April 26 - 27, 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of US respondents ages 16+.   

Image: Gender Spectrum Collection