How scientifically perfect is your butt?

A British psychologist devises an ass-assessing formula that measures shape, bounce and smoothness.

By Sarah Elizabeth Richards
April 12, 2006 6:50PM (UTC)
main article image

So, suppose that after years of hard-won wisdom -- or just the luck of finding a pair of jeans with amazing lifting properties -- you have made peace with your behind. You may not love every dimple, but when you catch a rear view, you can say, "It's me. I'll take it." Now comes news from the Sunday Times of Australia that threatens any bit of body self-acceptance. A British psychologist has come up with a mathematical formula that evaluates the relative perfection of any given female butt.

David Holmes, a psychology lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in England, came up with this mathematical gem: (S+C) x (B+F)/T = V. (S stands for shape or droopiness; C is for how spherical it is. B represents wobble or bounce, and F is for firmness. V measures hip-to-waist ratio, and T is for skin texture and cellulite.)


"The perfect female derriere has firmness to the touch and a resilience that prevents undue wobble or bounce, yet looks soft with flawless skin," Holmes told the Times. "Slender thighs and a hip-to-waist ratio of 0.7 will frame the perfect bum, well perfectly." According to the formula, singer Kylie Minogue apparently has an ideal specimen.

What's perhaps most interesting is that Holmes came up with the formula by asking 2,000 British women to assess their own asses. "For example, those who believed theirs resembled a trodden doughnut scored just one point for shape, whereas those with a small peach scored the maximum five," explains the Times. It appears that the women already had their own ideas of perfection, but I'm guessing the critical nature of Holmes' questions easily unleashed their self-doubt -- as in Oh, I suppose I'd get a 2 for wobbliness.

Such "research" could easily be dismissed as silliness, if the message wasn't so toxic. Case in point: The BBC reported yesterday that a survey of 500 women by Grazia magazine found that one in 50 British women felt happy about her body. Here are some more uplifting survey stats: The average women frets about her body every 15 minutes. Nearly a third of women think about how they look "every waking minute." And seven of 10 women think their lives would improve if their bodies did.


Well, at least we now we have an easy formula to follow.

UPDATE: As we spent more time with Holmes' butt formula, we noticed it didn't add up. Broadsheet emailed him, and apparently the Times reported it wrong. The correct formula is: (S+C) x (B + F)/T V. Glad we've got that solved!

Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at

MORE FROM Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex