In a stunning blow to the National Organization for Women, research suggests that a woman's attractiveness rises and sets with her perceived femininity, which ebbs or flows with the tides of her 'oestrogen' levels (estrogen for Yanks).
From The New Scientist:
Miriam Law Smith and colleagues photographed 59 women, aged between 18 and 25, every week for six weeks. On each occasion, they provided a urine sample for hormone analysis and gave information on where they were in their menstrual cycle. None of the women wore make-up, nor were they taking the contraceptive pill.
The researchers then selected the photograph of each woman that had been taken at the time of her highest urine-oestrogen level. As expected, this correlated to the point of ovulation in the women's menstrual cycles. These photographs were rated by 14 men and 15 women, also aged 18 to 25, for attractiveness, health and femininity.
The group also rated two composite face images. One composite was an amalgamation of the 10 women with the lowest peak-oestrogen levels, while the other image was a combination of the 10 women with the highest levels.
"There was a very strong and direct correlation between the level of each woman's oestrogen and how attractive, healthy and feminine they were found to be, showing that fertility is related to attractiveness," Law Smith told New Scientist. The faces considered most healthy and feminine were also deemed the most attractive.
"It is likely that those women with higher hormone levels also had increased levels of oestrogen during puberty – the time when the hormone has a crucial role in determining facial appearance," she suggests.
In a perhaps not unrelated story, the New Scientist has also reported that "Fertile women rate other women as uglier."
Finally, there's this: