This Kardashian phenomenon is really part of a national zeitgeist concerning big butts.

Hear us out: The rise of well-proportioned Kim Kardashian and her big-bone-ded sisters corresponds to the national malaise we call the Great Recession (2007-2009) and beyond.

According to new research published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, times of stress turn everyday men into ass men:

The British researchers corralled a group of college-guy guinea pigs and put half of them through stressful tasks that increased their cortisol, a hormone that indicates pressure.

After they were shown images of women of different shapes and sizes, the stressed out dudes preferred ladies who happened to have bigger behinds. According to the paper:

Men experiencing stress not only perceive a heavier female body size as maximally attractive, but also more positively perceive heavier female body sizes and have a wider range of body sizes considered physically attractive.

Why the curvier girls?

The needier a guy is, the more of a, shall we say, voluptuous woman he prefers, according to past research.

The theory here is that on some deep, anthropological level a more-to-love female is one with more to give to both her potential offspring and to her family. The British authors seem to agree, writing:

In contexts marked by prolonged stress as a result of resource deprivation, individuals may idealise larger body sizes because such body types are associated with better ability to handle environmental threat …

Interestingly — and going back to that Kardashian zeitgeist — studies have shown that the Great Recession has affected the job prospects of minority men more than just about any other group.

And a minority man? That's a natural-born ass man.

We'll just note here that my poor, skinny-at-the-time Mexican father fell head-over-heels for my not-so-poor, well-proportioned American mother during a romantic period of blooming economic malaise long, long ago.

So next time you see a black or Latino man whistle at a chunky white woman, don't recoil in disgust. Show some empathy. He's hungry.

[@dennisjromero / / @LAWeeklyNews]

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