Hair loss was a real concern for male respondents. Men with full heads of hair were a narrow majority (53 percent). Ironically, they were the most worried about hair loss: 38 percent indicated they would be "very upset" if they discovered they were rapidly losing hair. But anticipation may be worse than reality, since only 23 percent of men with thinning hair answered "very upset" on the same item. Older men also expressed less concern.
Apparently balding is easier to watch than experience, as women were relatively unconcerned about male hair loss. Of those whose partner had a full head of hair, only 13 percent would be "very upset" and 24 percent "somewhat upset" at the prospect of his hair thinning. A mere 18 percent of women whose partners had already lost some hair acknowledged being very or somewhat upset. Again, women may be adjusting their preferences to the realities of their mate.
Fifty-two percent of men thought women would endorse the statement, "I generally find bald men unattractive." Only 40 percent of women agreed, and they tended to be younger and more attractive. On the other hand, some women found bald men cute -- especially if their partner lacked an intact scalp. A 24-year-old stated, "In the past I never thought bald men were attractive. Only recently my opinion changed. My recent boyfriend keeps his head shaved and he is just adorable."
Most men agreed that the best way to cope with encroaching baldness was to "do nothing." Hair transplants came in a distant second, with head shaving the third-favorite choice. Buying a hairpiece was dead last. Only eight male participants admitted to wearing a toupee.
Graying hair was another matter. Over a third of the men approved of using hair color to treat premature gray, and more were positive about coloring for older men. Women's attitudes were similar to men's for coloring premature gray but were more negative about coloring for the aging male. As one woman wrote, "Gray hair on men is very sexy."
Our results reflected the current cultural preference for clean-shaven faces. Sixty percent of male respondents were cleanshaven, 21 percent had a mustache only, 19 percent had a beard and mustache. Less than 1 percent had a beard without a mustache.
Men guessed correctly that women would prefer clean-shaven men. Yet while only 14 percent of women overall named "beard with mustache" as their first choice, 55 percent of women whose partner had a beard ranked it first. Once again, women may have brought their judgment in line with their partner.
Most of the comments about facial hair were about beards, and the positive ones were about neatly trimmed beards. Women tended to associate poorly groomed or neglected beards with generalized slovenliness. The goatee was singled out for derision.
Locker room lore suggests that male chest hair is sexy. But moderate hair on arms, legs, and chest was the choice favored by a plurality of women. There were no written comments on body hair, suggesting few strong feelings.
Next to hygiene, male genitals elicited the most comments. Both sexes thought men placed too much emphasis on organ size. Over 71 percent of women agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "Men seem too concerned with the size and shape of their genitals." Only 9 percent disagreed. Many comments made it clear that sexual skill and sensitivity overshadow the importance of size. As one woman wrote, "It's not what a man has that matters so much as how he uses it."
Seventy-eight percent of male respondents reported being circumcised. Preferences reflected these percentages; 42 percent of women reported a strong preference for circumcised men, while only 7 percent preferred uncircumcised men. However, better than half the women with uncircumcised partners expressed some degree of preference for an uncircumcised penis.
In general, women cared more about penis width, while men thought length would matter more. Men underestimated by half the percentage of women who did not care about length. Men also assumed that women's size preference was a matter of appearance. In fact, the number one reason women preferred a thicker penis was that it was "more satisfying during intercourse." A wider penis can deliver extra stimulation to the clitoris, while a longer penis reaches a part of the vagina that is poorly innervated.
A few women stated that "ideal" size depended on the sexual activity involved. Several pointed out that fellatio and anal sex were more pleasurable with a smaller penis.
Women who rated themselves as more attractive were particularly concerned with larger size. Of women describing themselves as "much more attractive than average," 64 percent cared strongly or moderately about penis width, and 54 percent cared about penis length. Women who rated their own looks as average were about 20 percentage points lower.
Women who disliked a large penis offered two arguments: too large a penis can be painful, and well-endowed men can be unimaginative lovers. A British woman wrote, "Men with big penises are all too prone to think they've got all it takes, and therefore don't show much variety/ingenuity/empathy. Ordinary or even small-sized men have provided me with more orgasms."
But many women who extolled exceptional dimensions maintained that women saying otherwise were deluding themselves. One exuberant 44-year-old stated, "If women say the size of a man's penis doesn't matter they haven't been with a man with a big one!! Fabulous!" A 32-year-old commented, "Penis size matters much less in terms of appearance than in tactile terms. When women say size doesn't matter, they're usually lying."