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Human physical appearance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Human physical appearance is the outward phenotype or look of human beings.

Image of a European female (left) and an East Asian male (right) human body seen from front (upper) and back (lower). Adult human bodies photographed whose naturally-occurring pubic, body, and facial hair have been deliberately removed to show anatomy. Retouched with anterior and posterior views.

There are functionally infinite variations in human phenotypes, though society reduces the variability to distinct categories. The physical appearance of humans, in particular those attributes which are regarded as important for physical attractiveness, are believed by anthropologists to affect the development of personality significantly and social relations. Humans are acutely sensitive to their physical appearance.[1] Some differences in human appearance are genetic, others are the result of age, lifestyle or disease, and many are the result of personal adornment.

Some people have linked some differences with ethnicity, such as skeletal shape, prognathism or elongated stride. Different cultures place different degrees of emphasis on physical appearance and its importance to social status and other phenomena.


Various aspects are considered relevant to the physical appearance of humans.

Physiological differences[edit]

Humans are distributed across the globe except for Antarctica and form a variable species. In adults, the average weight varies from around 40 kg (88 pounds) for the smallest and most lightly built tropical people to around 80 kg (176 pounds) for the heavier northern peoples.[2] Size also varies between the sexes, with the sexual dimorphism in humans being more pronounced than that of chimpanzees, but less than the dimorphism found in gorillas.[3] The colouration of skin, hair and eyes also varies considerably, with darker pigmentation dominating in tropical climates and lighter in polar regions.

Long-term physiological changes[edit]

Short-term physiological changes[edit]

Clothing, personal effects, and intentional body modifications[edit]

Other functional objects, temporarily attached to the body[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anderson-Fye, EP (2012). Cash, Thomas F. (ed.). Anthropological Perspectives on Physical Appearance, and Body Image (PDF). Body Image and Its Disorder in Anthropology. Vol. 1. Academic Press. p. 19. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-384925-0.00003-1. ISBN 9780123849250. Retrieved August 9, 2018. [Cases] of immigration have repeatedly shown that if a person who is obese believes that their body is beyond individual control but is placed into a medical system that assumes individual rational actors in its treatments, adherence is likely to be low and those treatments are ineffective...[Young] ethnic Fijian women associated the thin body ideal with a particular lifestyle that they found desirable
  2. ^ "Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2003–2006" (PDF). Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  3. ^ Shea, Brian T. (1985). "The ontogeny of sexual dimorphism in the African apes". American Journal of Primatology. 8 (2): 183–188. doi:10.1002/ajp.1350080208. PMID 31986820. S2CID 85730045.