TIME Research

Men Are Totally Hardwired by Evolution to Prefer Curvy Women, Study Finds

Human Spine
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And it's one curve in particular

A new University of Texas study has found that men express a clear preference for women who have a pronounced back-to-buttock curve.

After asking around 100 men to rank the attractiveness of images of various females, researchers found that men strongly preferred women with a back-to-buttock curve of 45.5 degrees, which they described as the “theoretically optimal angle of lumbar curvature.”

They theorized that, in ancient times, such an angle meant that women were more likely to carry out successful pregnancies.

“This spinal structure would have enabled pregnant women to balance their weight over the hips,” said researcher David Lewis.

“These women would have been more effective at foraging during pregnancy and less likely to suffer spinal injuries. In turn, men who preferred these women would have had mates who were better able to provide for fetus and offspring, and who would have been able to carry out multiple pregnancies without injury.”

Researchers conducted a second study to rule out if the spinal curvature preference was due to the buttock size rather than the spinal curvature angle itself. But they discovered that men repeatedly exhibited a preference for women with spinal-curvature angles closer to the optimum, even if the women had smaller buttocks.

“Beauty is not entirely arbitrary, or ‘in the eyes of the beholder’ as many in mainstream social science believed, but rather has a coherent adaptive logic,” Lewis added.

Read next: This App Alerts You When You’re Near a Spot Where a Woman Made History

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TIME fashion

Rihanna Is the First Black Woman to be the Face of Christian Dior

Rihanna promotes her new animated feature "Home" in New York City on March 15, 2015.
Neilson Barnard—Getty Images Rihanna promotes her new animated feature "Home" in New York City on March 15, 2015.

It was just a matter of time

Rihanna has big news: She is the new face of Christian Dior’s Secret Garden video campaign.

The “Take a Bow” singer will star in the brand’s fourth video in the series, Christian Dior confirmed to WWD, and she joins the ranks of Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence as a face for the French company. The campaign has been shot by Steven Klein in Versailles, France, and Rihanna’s film is set for release later this year and will continue from the third chapter, which boasts more than 9 million views on YouTube. We have little doubt that Rihanna will have trouble smashing those figures with her performance.

Given that she’s a regular fixture in the Christian Dior front row and wore the brand for a recent performance of “FourFiveSeconds,” some may have seen the announcement coming. By fronting the campaign, Rihanna is also making history since she’s the first black woman to be a brand ambassador for Dior.

Not only is her role great news for diversity within the fashion industry, but it’s also further proof that 2015 belongs to Rihanna. She stars in her first animation, Home, this month, has recorded the soundtrack to accompany it, and is releasing her eighth studio album this year.

This article originally appeared on InStyle.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Charcoal Juice Is Now a Thing

'That was actually a bigger hurdle for us: trying to have a drink with activated charcoal that people wouldn't gag on'

This is This Is Now A Thing, where we check out the science behind new health phenomena.

Courtesy of Juice Generation

The thing: A $9.95 bottle of Juice Generation cold-pressed juice mixed with two teaspoons of activated charcoal. Here, that means the pitch-black powder of heated coconut shells, but activated charcoal can also be made from sources like wood or coal. Also called activated carbon, activated charcoal is incredibly porous and adsorbent. (That’s not a typo—it’s a word that means a wide range of molecules and chemicals stick to it.) That last quality makes it useful in all kinds of contexts, from water purification to gas masks to an application in clinical emergencies like overdoses or poisonings.

Dr. Maged Rizk, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic, uses activated charcoal during poisonings to limit the body’s absorption of the toxin. “It’s black,” he says of the charcoal he administers to patients. “It’s this really nasty looking drink. You have them swallow it, and you hope they vomit.” Charcoal’s rather gruesome use as a hospital drink aside, the ingredient has recently popped up in a more glamorous place: the juice world.

Juice Generation founder Eric Helms saw a glut of beauty products like face masks and pore strips touting activated charcoal as a “detoxifying” ingredient, and he knew many of his customers drank green juice in hopes that it would improve their skin. “If it had charcoal in it, it would be sort of kicking it up a level,” he says. It’s now the company’s best-selling line.

The hype: Healthy glowing skin, better breath, improved digestion and hangover help. “Just basically drawing toxins out of your body for improved organ function,” says Helms. “I think that there’s benefits and I think a lot of people feel the benefits,” Helms says.

The research: Activated charcoal has been used for centuries in the form of biscuits and supplements for digestive issues. So we know it’s probably not going to hurt you, says Dr. Kent Olson, medical director of the San Francisco Poison Control System and clinical professor of medicine and pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. He often uses activated charcoal to treat poisonings and even wrote a paper about the stuff—“Activated Charcoal for Acute Poisoning: One Toxicologist’s Journey”—in the Journal of Medical Toxicology. “Generally we think of charcoal as being inert and not having any chemicals in it,” he says, so it shouldn’t cause poisoning.

But there’s very little research to back up its use in average people and over a long period of time. Juice Generation declined to cite any research backing up the health benefits of charcoal. (“If you have questions that skew in that direction, please consult medical professionals,” their PR representative told me.) But based on the research out there, there’s no way to know what charcoal binds to and what it leaves alone—making it difficult to know whether drinking charcoal juice might flush out the nutrients you are drinking it for in the first place. The experts TIME spoke with said there’s little if any evidence for the health benefits of drinking activated charcoal unless you’ve been poisoned.

A lack of research doesn’t necessarily mean the claims aren’t true, of course. The gastroenterologist Rizk points out that there’s not a lot of pharmacological incentive to fund a study about natural carbon. “People anecdotally swear by it for a lot of these different things,” Rizk says. “But the studies haven’t been done.”

Charcoal’s powerful binding abilities may have an unwanted side effect: “The problem with charcoal is that it’s non-specific. It’ll bind to anything it finds adsorbable,” Olson says. “That could include toxins as well as nutrients.” In fact, you don’t actually want to get rid of all your body’s impurities, he says. “Remember that might include vitamins and amino acids and other things you actually need in your diet,” he says. If you eat charcoal with your kale, you might be unwittingly depriving yourself of its nutrients.

And that hangover cure claim? It’s unlikely, since charcoal doesn’t bind to alcohol all that impressively, Olson says. You’d have to drink about twice the amount Olson gives during poisonings to bind to the amount of alcohol in one beer, he says. And while he can’t say for sure, he does say this: “My intuition is there’s nothing here other than the possibility of taking good things out of your system at the same time.”

The taste: Eric Helms knows how to make green juice taste good. Charcoal, he says, was a different story. “That was actually a bigger hurdle for us: trying to have a drink with activated charcoal that people wouldn’t gag on.” He acknowledges that it looks a bit off-putting, but we’ve got to hand it to him: the juices really do taste delicious. The black one tastes like a not-too-sweet lemonade; the grey one reminds us of a slightly nutty milkshake; the green one tasted just like a really good green juice.

The bottom line: Despite the clear lack of health evidence, this won’t be the last you see of charcoal-infused foods. Helms says Juice Generation’s activated drinks outsell all of their other products. Competing juice companies have their own charcoal lines, too, and a restaurant in Los Angeles is even adding activated charcoal to its cocktail list.

Getting rid of toxins, it turns out, isn’t always evidence-based—but it sure is proving to be popular.

TIME beauty

See Kelly Clarkson’s Perfect Response to Body-Shaming Tweets

Kelly Clarkson visits SiriusXM Studio in New York City on March 3, 2015.
Robin Marchant—Getty Images Kelly Clarkson visits SiriusXM Studio in New York City on March 3, 2015.

The singer is keeping a positive outlook

News flash: Kelly Clarkson doesn’t care what you think about her weight.

After the singer showed off a fuller figure during an appearance on Graham Norton Live last month, British personality Katie Hopkins Tweeted several negative comments about her size.

“What happened to Kelly Clarkson?” Hopkins wrote. “Did she eat all of her backing singers? Happily I have wide-screen.”

As the Twitterverse began to attack Hopkins, she took aim at Clarkson several more times.

“Look, chubsters,” she Tweeted a few days later. “Kelly Clarkson had a baby a year ago. That is no longer baby weight. That is carrot cake weight. Get over yourselves.”

But Clarkson remains unfazed by what Hopkins – or anyone else, for that matter – thinks about her size.

Asked by Heat magazine about the fat-shaming Tweets, Clarkson was initially puzzled.

“I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” she said. “Someone Tweeted something nasty about me?”

When the reporter explained who Hopkins is and what she had written, Clarkson laughed. “That’s because she doesn’t know me,” she said. “I’m awesome! It doesn’t bother me. It’s a free world. Say what you will.”

For the uninitiated, Hopkins rose to fame as a villainous contestant on The Apprentice UK, where she drew attention for her acerbic, insulting comments. An outspoken conservative, she parlayed her infamy into a career as a perennial reality contestant and political pundit. (Think Omarosa meets Ann Coulter.)

Despite the critical lashing, Clarkson is keeping a positive outlook.

“I’ve just never cared what people think,” she told Heat magazine. “It’s more if I’m happy and I’m confident and feeling good. That’s always been my thing. And more so now, since having a family – I don’t seek out any other acceptance.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Read next: Watch Kelly Clarkson and Jimmy Fallon Sing the History of Duets

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TIME fashion

Watch How Iran’s Beauty Trends Have Evolved Over 100 Years

A model transforms ten times in just one minute

In just one minute, a model transforms to reflect the changing beauty trends in Iran over the last 100 years.

But the evolution doesn’t only reflect Iran’s hair trends, but its history — from the 1936 hijab ban to the headscarf’s reemergence to the recent Green Revolution.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 12.09.07 PM

This is Cut Video’s third installment of its “100 Years of Beauty” series. The first two videos look at American trends for both white and black women in the last century.

Read next: Bye, Bye, Barbie: 2015 Is the Year We Abandon Unrealistic Beauty Ideals

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TIME beauty

Unretouched Photo of Cindy Crawford Leaks Online

An apparent image of the supermodel in lingerie is generating a lot of online discussion about what “real” women look like

An unretouched photo of 48-year-old supermodel Cindy Crawford has leaked online, reigniting the social-media debate about photoshopping women’s bodies.

The photo, which was initially attributed to an upcoming issue of Marie Claire, is actually a leak from a 2013 cover story of Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America. “No matter where the photo came from, it’s an enlightenment,” Marie Claire writers wrote in a web post about the leaked photo. “We’ve always known Crawford was beautiful, but seeing her like this only makes us love her more.”

Social-media commentators are rallying around the leaked photo as a way to celebrate natural aging.

Crawford has not yet made any public statement about the leaked photo, but she did share some thoughts on aging gracefully. “I really think — at any age — it’s learning to be comfortable in your own skin,” she told Marie Claire at the premiere of her new documentary, Hospital in the Sky. “For me, that’s doing the kind of work I like, being in a good relationship, being the kind of mother I want to be — and taking care of myself.”

TIME beauty

5 Ways to Improve Your Skin Through Food

honey-cup-cotton-sticks
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Yes, you are welcome to use food on your skin

As anyone who’s broken out after a late-night drinking and pizza binge can attest, diet is clearly linked to skin condition. But there’s so much conflicting information about how to manage your diet for the most beautiful skin possible, as well all kinds of wacky DIY recipes (we’ll pass on the mayonnaise face mask, thank you very much). To get some clarity, FWx spoke to nutrition expert and esthetician Britta Plug, who helps clients overhaul their diets and skincare routines at Brooklyn’s Treatment by Lanshin. Here, she debunks beauty myths and calls out natural health trends to look for in 2015.

1. Eat Less Inflammatory Foods
The biggest culprit are inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten and sugar. If you’re having issues with your skin, those are foods to experiment with eliminating. Try taking them out for two weeks and see if that has any effect. Also, when you bring those foods back in your body will have a more heightened reaction, so you can see how they affect you—gas, bloating, headaches, whatever the symptoms are for you. If you’re eating them all the time, your body has more of a low-grade reaction. We all have varying tolerance levels, but those foods are the general culprits.

2. Only Eat High Quality Dark Chocolate
I used to think the advice about chocolate [making you break out] was a myth, but since I’ve started working with an acupuncturist, I’ve been incorporating a lot of Chinese medicine into my practice, and there is something behind the idea that chocolate can be inflammatory. But we’ve also been exploring the benefits of high quality dark chocolate for cystic acne. It depends on the person.

3. Invest in a Good Probiotic
Gut health and skin health are really tightly linked. Probiotics are huge. High quality probiotics, in capsule form, are great, as are fermented foods like kimchi. People often say to me, “Well I eat a lot of yogurt.” But you have to be eating whole milk, low sugar yogurt to get the benefits, and you first want to make sure you’re not sensitive to dairy. That’s why I really recommend sauerkraut and kimchi.

If you start taking a high quality probiotic, you’ll usually notice a pretty big difference—you will go to the bathroom more often! You want to start with just once a day, and then work up to the recommended dosage. All probiotics are labeled by what they contain, but it can be tricky to make sure you’re getting quality ones, even from a health food store. It’s best if you can pay a visit to a functional medicine practitioner. I don’t officially endorse them, but I use Dr. Mercola probiotics often in my practice.

4. Use Food on Your Face
While eating yogurt can by iffy if you’re sensitive to dairy, it’s great for using as a mask. It’s a little acidic and it’s nourishing, plus strengthens the flora of the skin.

I am a huge fan of using honey on the skin. It’s an amazing cure-all. Any honey is great, but Manuka honey in particular just works miracles for any skin type. It’s full of vitamins so it’s great for acne and anti-aging. I especially love it for after sun-care. To make a mask, mix about half a teaspoon of honey and mix it with half a teaspoon of warm water, and just spread it onto your skin and leave on for as long as you can before rinsing off. I’ve definitely fallen asleep with honey mask on and woken up stuck to my pillowcase. Manuka honeys are all labeled with a UMF rating, the Unique Manuka Factor. The higher the UMF, the better. I think 16+ is the highest I’ve seen.

5. Experiment with Charcoal and Sandalwood
Charcoal has always been big for the skin, but I’ve been seeing a lot of charcoal drinks coming out, like charcoal lemonades. It can be helpful if you need a detox. For example, if you’re gluten intolerant and accidentally ingest gluten, you can take a charcoal capsule to rebalance your gut.

Sandalwood is also something we’re going to be seeing a lot more of, in things like skincare oils. All essential oils are healing, and sandalwood is especially helpful for getting circulation going for healing. In Chinese medicine it’s referred to as a “blood mover,” so it can be great for congested or acne prone skin.

One Important General Tip: Don’t Strip Your Skin
I think one of the biggest mistakes I see people making is overwashing and scrubbing their skin. I recommend just cleansing once a day, at night, to remove any makeup and pollution from your skin. Then, just rinse with water in the morning. And keep your routine fairly simple.

This article originally appeared on FWx.com.

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TIME beauty

Instagram Admits ‘Mistake’ After Pulling Pubic Hair Photo

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Lionel Bonaventure—AFP/Getty Images The Instagram logo is displayed on a smartphone on December 20, 2012 in Paris.

"We don’t always get it right"

Instagram faced immediate criticism three weeks ago when it disabled an Australian magazine’s account after the publication posted a picture that showed female pubic hair. The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app restored the Sticks and Stones’ account Thursday and released an apology.

“We try hard to find a good balance between allowing people to express themselves creatively and having policies in place to maintain a comfortable experience for our global and culturally diverse community,” according to the statement. “This is one reason why our guidelines put limitations on nudity, but we recognize that we don’t always get it right. In this case, we made a mistake and have since restored the account.”

The photo in question showed two women wearing bathing suits with some of their pubic hair exposed. Sticks and Stones director Ainsley Hutchensce argued to the Huffington Post that Instagram was exhibiting sexism by objecting to this photo, but not others that showed male pubic hair. “From what I can gather I do feel as though men can get away with a lot more in terms of what Instagram deems to be of a sexual nature,” she said. Critics point to pictures where men’s pubic hair is exposed, like one from Justin Bieber’s recent Calvin Klein campaign, as examples of a gender imbalance in the way society views people’s natural bodies.

Instagram and Facebook have both come under fire in the last year for censoring pictures in which women’s nipples are exposed. A movement using the hashtag #FreetheNipple argues that normalizing female toplessness is a question of gender equality and that topless female photos—like ones of breastfeeding—should be allowed on social media.

MORE: Free the Nipple! The Problem With How We Think About Breasts

TIME Opinion

Dove Really, Really Wants These Little Girls to Accept Their Curls

Hair acceptance is the new body acceptance

Dove has moved on from curve-acceptance to curl-acceptance.

The beauty company’s newest campaign continues its body-positive messaging by focusing on curly-haired girls who wish they had straight hair. The little girls in this new ad are sad because they only see straight hair in advertisements and commercials! Dove claims research shows only 4 in 10 girls with curly hair think their hair is beautiful. And nobody with un-beautiful hair could possibly have a shred of happiness in their lonely little lives.

Until… they get pulled outside by their curly-haired mommies (who are dancing in public, ugh STOP IT mo-om!) and taken to a top-secret location where they have to cover their eyes for a surprise. No, there’s not a pony in there. Or a private Taylor Swift concert. Instead, when they open their eyes, every single curly-haired person they’ve ever met shouts at them: “We all love our curls!”

MORE: Hey Dove, Don’t ‘Redefine Beauty,’ Just Stop Talking About It

Instead of shrieking in terror, the girls join in and it becomes a big dance party where everybody’s curls are bouncing with a special spring that says “empowerment,” and “acceptance” and “buy Dove products.”

TIME fashion

This Smart Mirror Lets You Try On 5 Outfits at Once

The mirror also lets you share looks on social media if you want to get second or third opinion from friends

Even for people who love shopping, the effort of dressing and undressing for hours while trying on clothes can be a bit draining. (It’s not all Champagne and Pretty Woman people!). That’s why Neiman Marcus just started piloting a new “smart mirror” that lets shoppers save looks and compare styles with the wave of a hand.

Called the MemoryMirror, the system can take an image of you in one dress and then let you flip through how the item would look in other colors or patterns. It then saves the shot so you can compare it side-by-side with other outfits and only ever have to try on something once. Bonus: The imaging is so precise that there’s a zoom function—so prepare to see how your butt takes to those jeans in HD.

If you’re one of those shoppers who prefers a second, or depending on your Instagram following, thousands of more opinions before committing, you can also share looks via email or social media.

The mirrors are available to use right now at Neiman Marcus in Walnut Creek outside San Francisco and will be coming to Plano, Texas (north of Dallas) next month. If all goes well, you can look for them at a store in your city in the near future.

Now we just need an invention that can figure out whether those heels will be comfortable after the first hour.

This article originally appeared on FWx.com.

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