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

There are infinite variations in human phenotypes, though society reduces the variability to distinct categories. Physical appearance of humans, in particular those attributes which are regarded as important for physical attractiveness, are believed by anthropologists[citation needed] to significantly affect the development of personality and social relations. Humans are acutely sensitive to their physical appearance. 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.

Factors affecting physical appearance

Various factors are considered relevant in relation to the physical appearance of humans.

Physiological differences

Humans are distributed across the globe with the exception of Antarctica, and form a variable species. In adults, average weight varies from around 40 kilos for the smallest and most lightly built tropical people to around 80 kilos for the heavier northern peoples.[1] Size also varies between the sexes, the sexual dimorphism in humans being more pronounced than that of chimpanzees, but less than the dimorphism found in gorillas.[2] The colouration of skin, hair and eyes also varies considerably, with darker pigmentation domination in tropical climates and lighter in polar regions.

Long-term physiological changes

Short-term physiological changes

Clothing, personal effects, and intentional body modifications

Other functional objects, temporarily attached to the body

See also


  1. ^ "Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2003–2006" (PDF). Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  2. ^ 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.