11. 3. 2022

English Version | Butt or glutes, breasts or boobs, that is the question.

by Nuno Miguel Dias


The most attractive curve on a woman is her smile. What a cliché, right? It’s the type of thing someone would write only to look good. The harsh truth is that men fall into two major categories: the ones who look at the glutes, and the ones that can’t look away from a cleavage. Fasten your seatbelts and forget political correctness. This is a trip inside the male brain. And others. 

Photography by Jamie Nelson

Do you know how hard it is, in today’s day and age, where society’s polarization is running wild and the middle-ground seems as far as Andromeda, to write an article about which part of the female body attracts men the most without it being considered sexist? Do you even imagine? Are you aware that the words you’re about to read are as audacious as the climb of Mount Everest (8847m) by João Garcia? And that it takes a whole lot of courage, becoming the only Portuguese man to ever do so but, along the way, you lose a few phalanges and the tip of your nose. To give you a little “peek”, and trying to be as accurate as possible, a few weeks went by since Twitter went mad over Sydney Carter, coach of the women’s basketball team from A&M University in Texas, showed up at a game wearing a skin-tight pair of pink vinyl pants and white high-heeled boots. The discussion was on. What is the ideal attire for women in sports? Is there one? Would people criticize a male coach if he showed up at practice wearing a suit? And what about a polo shirt and sweats? And what if he’s wearing a Steven Seagal t-shirt tucked into a pair of super-skinny jeans, a bum-bag on their waist and court shoes with white socks? No. But they might if he wears a tuxedo. Or swim shorts, sleeveless tank and flipflops. To sum up, the critique that the female coach received was ridiculous. Therefore, Sydney Carter had everything to get out of this with the grace that a pair of pink vinyl pants and white high-heeled boots could never give. But she decided to fire back: “People don’t like seeing a successful black woman.” I don’t mean to employ an example that is so technical you will miss the point of what I’m trying to say, but this is the same thing as having the Queen in check and moving a Pawn all the way in the back of the board. But that is what we’re stuck with today. The XXI century man is a shadow of the argumentative power he used to uphold before. He is to the great debates what a child, before the classmate who says: “You’re fat and ugly”, responds: “Oh, takes one to know one”. And this is noticeable at every level. From relationships to the workplace, to politics. Today, when faced with a critique, you take the politically correct deck of cards, shuffle it, take out any random card and claim that our rights to being pansexual, vegan, fascist or whatever we can think of at the time, are being offended. Easy victimization is not the opposite of a fighting standpoint. It is the subversion of evil. And the perversion of good. 

It is then paramount that we let go of all these constraints when approaching this subject. Or better yet, I should inform you I have set myself free from all of them and that I will treat this with the same relaxed manner as I did back in that afternoon in my teenage years, during a ditch of Math class, me the only male in the middle of so many classmates when I found out that our female counterparts don’t easily dismiss a guy’s butt. The first thought was of terror: “But what the hell does a woman want to do with the butt of a man?” Then I understood that this thing of appreciating certain parts of a body has nothing to do with the desire to enjoy them. That’s the libido working, transforming what we observe in something sexually desirable, just like the limbic system does, convey feelings of joy, happiness, and even love, when staring at a painting that haunts us with its beauty, which doesn’t mean we want it transferred from the Art History Museum to our leaving room. It was probably the deep understanding of those mechanics that might have led Muslims to not worship images, opting for not taking the risk of having someone worship a body in a cross or the expression on a saint’s face for other reasons besides pure religious appeal. Let us imagine dinner just between men who work in the same company (yes, it is possible due to job inequality). With rules (this part is important). The theme “feminine body” will for sure come up. The cleavage of Etelvina from HR. The great butt on Deolinda from Marketing. It is ensured that it will start along those lines. Then there will be the back-and-forth firing of arguments over who prefers blondes or brunettes and will resume in someone always being mocked over preferring some pubic hair over the current trend. I always end up being the one finishing my meal a little later. Because I don’t even have the courage to admit what really sets me off. Because it is feet, chest freckles and the back of the neck revealed when a woman puts her hair up. To tell your friends that I find the movement of the shoulder blades on a naked back more beautiful than a topless, or a little belly – the so-called pot belly over which Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) and Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) had a conversation in Pulp Fiction – than a butt would grant me a lot of crosses from the male crowd. But like me, we all have these specific tastes. Our friends just don’t know about them. Absolute certainties? No man will fix what women dislike about their bodies. I can guarantee, no member of the straight heterosexual century will say that Eunice from Front Office is ugly to look at because of cellulite. Or because Ofélia’s “goodbye muscle” wiggles too much when she waves, from her guichet, “see you tomorrow”. Something like “Fabiana from Economato has beautiful eyes, that the fake eyelashes make pop even more, you know how it is, the eyes are the windows to the soul” will get you in serious trouble on the next book launch by Pedro Chagas Freitas. It is proven that, besides your neighbor’s wife, especially if the neighbor is standing right there, there are some taboo subjects amongst men. 

There is a study (there always is), conducted by David Lewis, an American doctor, that interviewed 300 people (is it enough for a study?), and concluded that the idea that men prefer either butts or boobs is a myth. I don’t know if you picked up on the fact that I didn’t give the matter any credit on my end. If not, I’ll proceed: “Surprisingly, the male gender is attracted by the spine curvature of a woman, especially if 45 degrees.” Let me get this straight… To say you prefer butt or breasts is sexist because it reduces women to an object intended only for the male gaze and pleasure, which might indicate misogyny. But if someone concludes that the part of a woman’s body that is preferred is the one that looks the most like that very dangerous curve in Nürburgring Nordschleife, the German F1 track that has taken 68 lives, you get published on the Evolution and Human Behavior journal? Luckily, conclusions don’t stop there. Because according to “mister” David Lewis here, this part of the body captures a man’s interest because it is associated with considerable behinds. Ah, that makes more sense. Though he concludes that men who admit to especially enjoying big butts might be, in fact, preferring that spine’s curve. Well. Another study, done by David Bainbridge, a biologist, specialist in evolution from the University of Cambridge, concludes that physical characteristics are not the ones most grabbing of a man’s attention. According to him, they value intelligence in a woman more than they do her butt or breasts. This professor argues that intelligence is by far the quality that attracts men looking for a long-term partner the most, in the sense that it proves that “there is a higher chance their partner will become a responsible mother and take care of the children.” Besides that, he also suggests their partner was educated by smart parents, and there is a higher chance she was well brought up and nurtured in her childhood, which makes her a healthier person. 

It's all very nice, sure, but this isn’t the matter at hand. We’re talking about a more organic form of desire, the one that can occur in a nightclub and that has been replaced, during the pandemic, very timely, by Tinder. The Brazilian edition of Marie Claire magazine did a small poll with male models that walked Fashion Rio to understand what attracted them in a female body. The vast majority chose something surprising. With the exception of some gibberish that could only exist in the mind of an eight-year-old boy, like “I like to look at the belly because it’s how you can tell if a woman watches what she eats”, the preference falls greatly on, prepare yourself, legs. “Saradas”, in Brazilian Portuguese, toned, in English. Can we then draw a “regional” profile of preferences? Because I myself concluded that, after nearly half a century of many conversations about the subject, with many different men of various nationalities, the boys from Northern Europe, British Islands and Old School francophones prefer boobs. On the other hand, we, Latinos, are more enticed by good glutes, round and with the conventional shape that became known as “Ace of Spades” (a very gambler term, don’t you think? This way it is less sexist and more Brad Pitt and Georges Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven). Does this have anything to do with our proximity to Africa, where female glutes are absolutely divinized by men and naked breasts are a very ordinary sight in the most reclusive of tribes? Doe men who prefer boobs weaned too soon, conferring a whole other dimension to the Oedipus complex? Do I have a predilection for feet because they are hidden for most of the year and thus, their vision is a form of nudity? So many questions, so few conclusive studies on the subject. 

We decided to conduct a study of our own, resorting to testimonies that are closer to our reality. Jorge Ferreira, 45 years old, a journalist from Lisbon based in Algarve, elects a good pair of butt cheeks as a temple for his adoration: “The texture, the aesthetic, the touch, and desire that they awake. The invisible hairs standing up with the cold, the cellulite points highlighted at the beach, or the tangibility of the flesh to the dim light of a nightstand, in that environment before we all know what happens”, he reveals, with obvious enthusiasm. Eduardo Lopes, illustrator, 55, confesses he worships butts so much, that he finds it very hard to hold back an orgasm if, during intercourse, he touches or sees them. I confess I failed to understand how you could avoid, during the act, one situation or another. The answer was blunt: “I said I found it difficult, not that I couldn’t do it.” Luís Vasconcellos (fictional name), 30, banker, reveals that he changed his opinions a couple of years ago. A convict appreciator of buttocks, with a special predilection of the different shades of tanning/ winter paleness and the more specific dark pigmentation that confers a degrade towards the ports of desire, he fell to the beauty of the breasts of the woman he shares his life with (hence the fictional name), that he says are identical to the ones of Eva Green in the The Dreamers, by Bernardo Bertolucci. This point remains to be confirmed, naturally. And for women? Is it different? Ana Glória (fictional name) is a high school teacher and always notices the hands, arms, neck, lips, and eyes. There goes the theory I formulated back in my teenage years, with my classmates. But there is more: “And, without a shadow of a doubt, the veins… that you can see very clearly. In the penis, I love it. I like them with a strong inclination upwards because it pressures the G spot”, she reveals. With such a specific and detailed opinion, it’s important to backtrack a little bit: “I like harms and hands because they represent strength and masculinity. The neck because it’s incredibly sexy, eyes because they show feeling and the mouth for obvious reasons… I guess.” A precious detail? Ana is bisexual. What do you prefer in a woman’s body? “Boobs, clearly. I am more demanding with women than I am with the opposite gender. I love classy women, put together. But for a sexual relationship, I prefer an androgynous woman. Which ends up being counterproductive, since they usually don’t have neither boobs nor ass”, she jokes. Now, ideally, we would follow along to the part where we would go over the conversations of women and their preferences when it comes to male bodies, but an entire magazine wouldn’t be enough. Or maybe it would. Maye even just a six-pack… excuse me, pages.

Translated form the original on The Body Issue, from Vogue Portugal, published March 2022.
Full stories and credits on the print issue.