Science Asks: How Much Weight Loss Makes You Hot?

Attractive young woman holds a bathroom scale up while smiling at the camera. Horizontal shot

this chick is way too happy to see a scale.

HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE you put in all this time at the gym and lose a few hard-earned pounds — only to have no one notice or throw any surprise celebrations in honor of how hot you look? Well someone obviously has, because a few Canadian researchers set out to figure out just how much weight you need to lose before other people will take notice of it, and just how much weight you need to lose before people will think you’re more attractive than you were before. What a time to be alive.

To begin this journey into the realms of quantified hotness, the researchers gathered photos of people in their 20s and 30s with neutral expressions on their faces, then also duplicated them with some Photoshop magic to make them look fatter, and fatter, and then even fatter to simulate a gradual increase of body weight.

Next, they asked their participants to randomly draw two cards at a time and determine which person looked bigger. Eventually, they compiled some data from playing what sounds like a blend between Guess Who? and the memory game, and determined the exact weight that people need to lose before others will notice it in their face:

Women and men of average height need to gain or lose about three and a half and four kilograms, or about eight and nine pounds, respectively, for anyone to see it in their face[…]” said Nicholas Rule, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Social Perception and Cognition at the University of Toronto, in a university press release about the study.

But, if you want people to think that your face looks prettier from the weight loss, Rule goes on to say, then you need to lose about twice that. The research team determined that women need to lose around 14 pounds for other people to think they look more appealing. Men, of course, need to lose a little more, based on their average size being bigger to begin with.

What is unclear about the study however, is what the starting weights were, or what weights were considered to be “fat.” Obviously, if you’re particularly thin, losing eight pounds isn’t necessarily going to make you look any better (and probably wouldn’t be that healthy). Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is that in the same way that people don’t notice when you lose a couple pounds… they probably don’t notice when you gain a couple, either. So working out for fitness as opposed to working out for public approval becomes that much more of an appealing option, don’t you think?

But, hey, if “become more attractive” is one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2016, at least now you know exactly how hard you need to work.

For more information about the study, go here.