Terry Pettijohn and Brian Jungeberg of Mercyhurst College took a very close look at the curves, um, measurements of past Playboy Playmates of the Year in relation to the state of the economy.
Here's the abstract from their paper (bold added to emphasize point of interest):
Past research has investigated ideals of beauty and how these ideals have changed across time. In the current study, facial and body characteristics of Playboy Playmates of the Year from 1960-2000 were identified and investigated to explore their relationships with U.S. social and economic factors. Playmate of the Year age, body feature measures, and facial feature measurements were correlated with a general measure of social and economic hard times. Consistent with Environmental Security Hypothesis predictions, when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year with larger waists, smaller eyes, larger waist-to-hip ratios, smaller bust-to-waist ratios, and smaller body mass index values were selected. These results suggest that environmental security may influence perceptions and preferences for women with certain body and facial features.
How would you visualize the data?
The data, past Playmate measurements, were made available. You can download them here in CSV format. Do the data really show a correlation? If so, how strong? Gold star goes to the best visualization of the data.
UPDATE: John S. did some plotting in R. Notice anything interesting?