Playboy centerfolds aren't as curvy as they used to be, according to a new European study that analyzed the measurements of the magazine's nude models over the past five decades.
Bust and hip measurements have gotten smaller, while waistlines are comparatively less whittled, said the study published this week in the British Medical Journal.
"In sum, centerfold models' shapely body characteristics have given way to more androgynous ones," the study concludes.
Researchers analyzed the trends in Playboy centerfold models' body measurements by crunching the measurement numbers in 577 consecutive monthly issues, from the magazine's inception in December 1953 to December 2001.
Instead of finding that the measurements of attractive women were stable over time — as evolutionary theory would suggest — the scientists found a dramatic shift.
"These temporal trends are at odds with claims that centerfolds' body shapes are still more 'hourglasses' than 'stick insects,' and that the maximally sexually attractive female waist:hip ratio is stable," the study said.
From Monroe-Like Curves to Athletic Leanness
Though researchers do not draw any particular conclusions as to why the changes have happened, they note that in an era of eating disorders, the diminishing body-mass indexes of the models are cause for medical concern. The head researcher says he is not sure whether it is readers' tastes or women's bodies that have evolved over time.
"It's difficult to disentangle cause from effect," the study's leader, Martin Voracek, a psychology researcher at the University of Vienna in Austria, told The Associated Press. "All I can say is that attractiveness is not that simple and is not constant over time."
Playboy spokesman Bill Farley acknowledged the curves on the centerfolds have changed, saying that in the 1950s and 1960s, the cultural norm was more of an hourglass figure, like Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield.
"As time has gone on and women have become more athletic, more in the business world and more inclined to put themselves through fitness regimes, their bodies have changed, and we reflect that as well," he told The AP.
Many models these days tend to have thinner lower bodies.
"But I would think that no one with eyes to see would consider Playmates to be androgynous," Farley said.