London, Nov 12 : A pretty face is liked by everyone - except for women of childbearing age - that's what a new study suggests.
The study has found that fertile women rate other attractive women consistently lower than women who have entered menopause
"It's almost as if they're putting down other attractive women," New Scientist quoted Benedict Jones, a psychologist at Aberdeen University, UK, who led the study of 97 middle-aged women, as saying.
To reach the conclusion, the lead researcher and his colleagues showed pre- and post-menopausal women pictures of men and women, digitally manipulated to make them more masculine or more feminine looking. heir software systematically enhanced male features such as a wide jaw and heavy brow or female attributes such as wider eyes and more arched eyebrows.
"It's not going into Photoshop and mucking about to make the jaw a few pixels wider and the eyes a few pixels bigger," he said.
The women, who ranged between 40 and 64 years of age, then picked between the masculinised and feminised versions of 40 males and females.
From the analysis, it was revealed that no matter their menopausal status, women favoured masculine-looking men. Yet when rating other women, women still able to have children rated feminine faces as slightly less attractive than menopausal women, the study found.
Competition between fertile women seems like the best explanation, Jones says.
"It's quite well established that as women go through menopause they shift from a mating-oriented mindset to more family-oriented mindset," he says.
The study has been published in Biology Letters.