Women’s Attractiveness Peaks 30 Years Before Men’s—WTF?

The idea that women are seen as less attractive as we age isn’t particularly a new one—it’s a well-documented fact that single-handedly fuels the beauty and cosmetic surgery industries every single year. However, while many of us worry about maintaining our youth once we reach, say, our 40s, apparently we peak a whole lot earlier than that. In fact, according to a new study, women are at our hottest at 18 and it’s all downhill from there.

  1. The study was extensive. The study, performed by researchers at the University of Michigan and published earlier this month in Science Advances, aimed to get a picture of desirability in dating, particularly as it pertained to online dating. While they uncovered some pretty crazy (yet not surprising) facts—men aren’t that into educated women, we tend to go for people “out of our league“—perhaps the most shocking of all is the fact that women’s attractiveness goes downhill literally from the moment we hit adulthood. WTF?
  2. It’s bad news all around. According to the research, which analyzed 186,000 messages between users of a popular, free online dating site dated January 2014, women’s desirability begins to drop from the age of 18 and just keeps on going downhill until we’re 65. If that’s not enough of a bummer, consider the fact that dudes apparently stay hot throughout their 20s and 30s, and really only hit peak hotness in their 40s and 50s. How ridiculous is that?
  3. The study was somewhat limited, admittedly. While admittedly the study did only include users from four major US cities—Boston, New York, Chicago, and Seattle—given the high number of people dating in each of those cities, the data does kinda speak for itself.
  4. And there are some other considerations… Of course, it bears mentioning that not all men want teenage girlfriends (or women who look like teenagers), just as not all women are attracted to older guys. Still, the data is enough to be super depressing, especially in a world that already favors youth in women way too much while guys are allowed to own getting older. Ugh.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill