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Shoddy science + shonky sums + sexism = the ‘perfect breast’ or Nuts latest attempt to get some publicity?

March 17th, 2007

Dr Petra

We’re all getting used to PR companies using nonsense formula to get us to buy products, often with the support of experts who’re either a bit dodgy or should know better.

Today I think I saw a formula for a campaign that wins the prize for the worst PR campaign to date, combining bad science, poor sums and sexism in one heady mixture.

It’s from Nuts magazine – the ones who previously brought us ‘man flu’ as PR exercise, who in an attempt to get you to look at their current issue and shift more copies have commissioned a psychologist to show the formula for a ‘perfect breast’.

Here’s there press release…..

“Nuts Magazine Reveals the Formula for the Perfect Breast:

The Breast Factor = ((PT+C) x (FF + PP)/A) + N

* Science proves real boobs are better than fake
* Mathematical formula reveals that Sam Cooke beats Cheryl Cole & Kelly Brook to Best Boobs in the UK

For the first time ever Nuts magazine can exclusively reveal the perfect breast! Since Nuts launched in January 2004 the search has been on to find the ultimate bosom, after months of heated arguments and intense discussions the debate has finally been settled and the answer is….
((PT+C) x (FF + PP)/A) + N !

This scientific formula developed by renowned University Psychologist Dr. David Holmes examines pertness, sphericity, fullness/firmness, proportion, enhancement & nipple ratios to determine the ultimate breast. Now thanks to Nuts Magazine, women can work out how much of an asset there own ‘assets’ really are by following a simple grading system and working the scores into this formula!

Following years of debate Nuts magazine invited science to put an end to the argument and Dr David Holmes discovery is celebrated in this weeks issue with ‘Britain’s 50 Best Boobs’. Using the formula Nuts have scored fifty celebrities to uncover who has the most perfect breasts in the UK and can exclusively reveal that Page 3 idol newcomer, Sam Cooke tops of the list! Other celebs that make the top 10 include Cheryl Cole, Keeley Hazell and Kelly Brook.

Interestingly the top breasts are all natural proving that while surgically enhanced boobs may be increasingly popular they fail to make the grade according to Dr David Holmes’ formula.

The factors in the equation are:
Pertness ‘PT’: This should aim towards being clearly ‘pert’, i.e. Gravity defying with the nipple pointing at 30 degrees from the vertical plane.
Sphericity ‘S’: Is how spherical the breasts are when seen from most angles with an absence of flat areas.
Fullness-firmness ‘FF’: This should give the impression of the breast swelling from the chest area clearly distinguished from the pectoral muscles and not having any sign of droop.
Proportion ‘PP’: Proportion is size in relation to the body that will distinguish the breast under clothing, provide a clear cleavage and leave both arms visible. Too small is easily detected but there is a fine line between good and too large.
The Natural/ Artificial factor ‘A’: There are no two ways about this – artificial implants make a breast seem good at a distance but not be good so natural is always best!
Nipple factor! ‘N’: Nipples need to be perfectly proportioned to the breast and firm enough to appear erect when at rest”.

Notes to editors:

Dr. David Holmes has developed the below system for calculating the perfect breasts. Women should choose one from each of the factors below and insert the score into the formula to work out a final rating.

Scoring for the factors:
Pertness
Select the nearest to your ratio
Score
An un-risen Yorkshire pudding = 1
My nipple tends to point south = 2
Only slightly bigger at the bottom to be honest = 3
Sculpted helium filled and as if suspended on strings = 4

Sphericity
Which of these represents your breasts
Score
They are as square as a cheese slice = 1
They are more naan bread than bap = 2
They are a bit longer than wide = 3
Like a perfect pair of pink grapefruits = 4

Firmness Fullness
Which best describes your breast firmness to the touch
Score
It’s a bit like handling a bicycle inner tube = 1
They handle like jelly in a whoopee cushion = 2
Firm but a little flat at the top = 3
Like full round jugs made of warm firm flesh = 4

Proportion
Your breast proportion is like
Score
They keep my tummy warm or They can just be seen in a bright light = 1
Small children shelter from the rain under them or Bit like enlarged Pectorals = 2
They look a bit big with my bra off? or They need a bra to look OK = 3
Symmetrical and occupy the 9″ in front of my chest and nowhere else = 4

Natural/ Artificial factor
Your breasts are:
Score
Has silicone or other enhancement = 1
100% natural = 2

Nipple Factor
Which best describes your nipple shape
Score
Kind of a pale spot = 1
It resembles a trodden on raisin = 2
Its rounded and firm but a bit flat = 3
Like a beautiful door stop at all times = 4

What your breast score means
How do my breasts score? You Are:
Score
Perfection! = 22
Nearly there be proud to make page 3 = Over 15
You are average and look good so be proud = Over 10
Keep your clothes on! = Under 7
Good clothes can look great too = Under 5

Although this is obviously just a chance for Nuts magazine to shift copy with a ‘lite’ story there are more serious issues about this particular press release. Psychologists are bound by a code of ethics that includes our being transparent in our working practises and upholding high standards. There are issues raised about the conduct of any psychologist who appears to be speaking outside their area of expertise, expressing views that may seem biased or prejudicial (in this case arguably sexist), and who has responsibility working with students or the public where such views might indicate a person is not acting in a humane manner.

You can add to these more serious concerns questions over how much the psychologist in question was paid for the work for Nuts, whether their department or University was aware of this work (and happy about it) and whether it matches their existing skills base. Why was a psychologist picked to create/front a mathematical formula rather than a mathematician? If a psychologist was picked why did it appear to be one who is not necessarily qualified to speak on the physiology of the female body? You should also ask whether the psychologist created the ‘perfect breast formula’ or as more commonly happens in these PR exercises they simply signed up to one already created by the PR company. Finally, we know there is a wide range of evidence about how an increasingly sexualised culture is harming girls – which was produced by the American Psychological Association and all psychologists should be aware of*. What are the ethics of a psychologist who decides to ignore this evidence and promote a formula and magazine that arguably are harmful to young women? [Holmes, for the record, defends his ‘perfect breast’ and ‘perfect bum’ formulae as science communication].

One has to wonder what is going on when a psychologist feels it is acceptable to front a formula that doesn’t account for the diversity of female physiology and is only really there to ensure a few more lads buy a magazine on the promise of seeing Britain’s 50 ‘best boobs’.

* Update October 2012
Since writing more research and critical thinking about sexualisation has been undertaken. A summary of this can be found here.

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