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Attractive umbilicus (belly button) in women

This article addresses two papers on the attractive form of the umbilicus in women.

The images used by the judges to score attractiveness are shown below.

a) Basic shapes of the umbilicus (belly button) in women. b) Umbilicus (belly button) hooding in women. c) Basic umbilicus (belly button) shapes in women.
Fig 1: a) Belly button shapes and prevalence in study 1:(1, pdf) (top, left) T-shaped (37%), (top, right) oval (22%), (middle, left) vertical (17%), (middle, right) horizontal (14%), (bottom) distorted (10%).  b) Belly button hooding and prevalence in study 1: (top) superior hood (77%), (middle) protruding (10%), and excessively large (11%).  c) Belly button shapes in study 2: (2, pdf) (top, left) hooded oval or T-shaped, (top, middle) oval, (top, right) horizontal, (bottom, left) vertical, (bottom, right) hooded vertical.

The general find of the studies was that a vertical orientation of the umbilicus in women was preferred by most men and women.  The t-shaped or hooded oval belly button was optimally preferred.  Protruding, distorted and large belly buttons were not found attractive.  Study 2 also indicated that more women (7.8%) than men (1.2%) preferred a hooded vertical umbilicus.

I had read before that more men than women have a horizontal orientation of the belly button and hence a preference for a vertical belly button orientation in women is consistent with a preference for femininity in women.


  1. Craig, S. B., Faller, M. S., & Puckett, C. L. (2000). In search of the ideal female umbilicus. Plast Reconstr Surg, 105(1), 389-392.
  2. Cavale, N., & Butler, P. E. (2008). The ideal female umbilicus? Plast Reconstr Surg, 121(5), 356e-357e.


In all study two's images the subjects appear to be young and have far less abdominal adiposity than average. (PE students?)
The opposite is true for most of Study one's image subjects who appear to include middle aged women who have had children.
I would have expected men's preferences to show significant differences. Are the hooded vertical liking women assessing what they'd like in a man, it looks like a total lack of abdominal adiposity. Women don't like being judgemental about other womens bodyfat.

The judges were rating women’s navels and hence it is unlikely that any of the women were assessing what they would like in a man. I doubt that women don’t like being judgmental about other women’s body fat levels; perhaps the obese ones are less judgmental.

We've waited a month...for this? yawn bellybuttons!

I totally agree, belly buttons? come on eric you can do better than that! You must of just thrown this together at the last minute. No offense, but give us something more please!

I know this article isn’t about a hot topic, but I have been pressed for time and among my list of things to do, the navel issue would have taken the least amount of time. So Ella is right that I put this together at the last moment. I will try to do a better job given enough spare time.

Hi Erik,

Here is someone else who has figured out that female beauty needs to have something to do femininity:

Also, I thought you would find this interesting:

Having a plus-sized woman is an improvement to skinny masculinized women. She is somewhat attractive, but not at the level of a beauty pageant.

Feminists should love this. They would love to see beauty pageants full of average women, with "realistic" body types. However, we already have a place to find women of average beauty: it's called "going outside." The point of beauty pageants should be to find women who are above average, with bodies that are unrealistic for most women to obtain. Hopefully, at some point, they will be above average in femininity, rather than above average in masculinization and skinniness.

Btw, if there is a better place to leave comments relevant to your work, but off-topic for any current threads, then let me know (I would use email, but I know you get a lot of that).

I actually found this topic very interesting. I'd love to hear more stories about specific body parts and what configurations people find most attractive.

Blogging about Online Gaming and Virtual Worlds:

Erik, I'd like to see you address skin color sometime. I've yet to find much coherent data on it at all.

fds: I don’t see the relevance of addressing skin color issues within this site.

Hugh Ristik: I wouldn’t say that female beauty needs to have something to do with femininity; it’s more like female beauty usually has something to do with femininity. One will come across less feminine women or somewhat masculinized women that look better overall than some more feminine women.

Regarding the teen beauty pageant where an overweight Chloe Marshall won a beauty pageant, I don’t think it is of much importance because something like this would be a rare or occasional occurrence, perhaps to placate feminists every now and then or because some contest organizers decided to have a little fun.

There is no place within this site to post off-topic comments. Even if I set up an entry for off-topic comments, it would only be a matter of time before the number of comments there discourage people from limiting off-topic issues to that entry only. The only way to accommodate off-topic comments is to have a forums section. But would it be advisable from the perspective of maintaining site quality? I am in no position to be moderating a forum. The forums are likely to be filled with trivial, off-topic issues, and I can’t imagine setting up a forums section without prominently displaying disclaimers distancing myself from numerous issues that are bound to come up.

For instance, a common off-topic question that I get is how feminine/attractive is a particular woman. As I have explained, I am not interested in the looks of women other than models and beauty pageant contestants, and these women are often obscure compared to female celebrities such as big-name actresses. I have also made many attempts to argue that this website has nothing to do with how women are supposed to look like but with how women in various modeling and beauty pageant scenarios are supposed to look like, but misunderstandings are rampant. Imagine what will happen when someone encounters pages after pages of discussion involving the femininity/attractiveness of top female celebrities in general in the forums. Even though none of these discussions will be initiated by me, they will make defending the site’s goals harder. Anyway, I will give the matter some thought.

Erik: Why not? The topic of skin color is a pretty big point of contention when the idea of innate beauty standards is brought up, especially with the case of racial differences that you've covered before.

fds: Skin color is hardly relevant to innate beauty standards. Innate beauty standards that I have talked about are usually abstract, as in a preference for average facial features without any specification of what the average needs to be exactly. The only clear analog for skin color in an international context is the absence of blemishes. Some derived beauty standards are related to how humans have deviated from the ancestral species, but humans do not differ from ancestral species in skin color range even though some skin color genes are newer than others. The skin color range in monkeys and apes varies from white to black. Skin color is a component of beauty, especially in many non-European societies, but I don’t think there is much in terms of intrinsic preferences regarding baseline skin color that holds for the great majority across populations, and it is not easy to separate innate preferences from social influences when it comes to skin color.


THis is kind of off topic for this article

but what do you think of abbie cornish in relation to how feminine her face is

Erik: But what sort of literature has led to your conclusions in regards to that? Are you familiar with the works of Peter Frost, such as his book on that very topic? He argues that light skin color on females is near-universally regarded as more attractive on average in most populations.

I'm honestly not sure what to think of the whole issue though. Many non-western societies have a depraved, fetishistic preference for light skinned females, yet I've rarely seen anything approaching this among western whites. Most whites, and people in general that I know don't have many clear-cut preferences in regards to that. And in my opinion, the only skin colors I'm not that attracted to on females are truly dark skin colors that you typically see among Sudanese or some west african populations. I'm pretty indifferent for most other colors.

you do realize that your belly button depends on how they cut the chord when you were a baby, tied it up, etc? right? now I know your going insane. Belly buttons? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ha ha ha ha

hahahahahah ahah hahhahhah hahahha
you make me laugh hard
its not about how they cut your umbilical cord
its decided like months before birth...

hahahah hahahahahahah ahhahahahahhahahaahhahaahahhahaha hah haahha ha hahah ah ha hah ahah hah ha

To Erik:

I'm just curious. Where did you hear that more men than women have a horizontal orientation of the belly button and hence a preference for a vertical belly button orientation in women is consistent with a preference for femininity in women?

Even belly buttons are not safe from scrutiny. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Sad world. Poor belly button.

I have actually done extensive research on belly button preferences and my findings are similar, BUT there is a strong correlation between the shape of one's own umbilicus and the favored shape. this of course does not apply to those with distorted belly buttons who are obviously among the patients seeking reconstructive surgery. i don't have access to the papers but i suppose they did not factor in this correlation?
it explains why the most prevalent form is also the most favored and why women prefer the vertical shape.

An article on bellybuttons. That's interesting. O.o

I find belly buttons on women to be highly erotic. That is what first attracted me to my wife. She had on a cropped top shirt exposing her incredible vertical shaped belly button. I could not help but steal a few glances. I decided to walk over and strike up a conversation. 12 yrs later, we have 2 beautiful children, 2 dogs and a mortgage. We are very happy and all because she flaunted her beautiful navel.

I guess I'm one of the 10% who prefer protruding navels. I think they look fertile and assertive. A woman who exposes her "outie" has probably been teased about it in childhood and so must have developed some resoluteness if she still shows it off later in life. They are rarer and more distinctive than concave "innies." Also, a protruding navel usually requires lower body fat, which may indicate better cardiovascular health and thus a better chance of fertility and long life.

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