Since I was ten years old I can remember wishing for skinnier legs. I actually used to stand in front of the mirror, holding my thighs apart just so I could get a glimpse what it might be like to be one of those girls.
Apparently other women felt the same way because by 2012, thanks to social media and the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, the “Thigh Gap” had become a thing. Hundreds of blogs, Tumblrs, Twitter accounts and memes appeared, celebrating and seeking that elusive inch. But this desire for thinner legs, slimmer hips and a firmer butt is nothing new. Who doesn’t have a Thigh Master lying around the back of a closet or a Buns of Steel VHS collecting dust? Women have been trying to spot reduce since Twiggy hit the pages of Vogue.
Recently, the more buxom booty has experienced a renaissance, thanks to fitness movements like #strongisthenewsexy and celebrities like the Infamous Ms. K, yet these curves have nothing to do with extra fat. In terms of this physical zeitgeist, bigger may be better, but we still want those buns to be rock hard. For most women however, shedding fat from the butt, hips and thighs is notoriously difficult (if not damn near impossible).
It turns out, there could be a biological reason why we just can’t seem to whittle away these pesky “problem areas” – nor should we want to.
According to research from the University of Pittsburgh, women with “thicker” hips, thighs, and butts could have smarter children. This is because fat in these areas are rich sources of DHA – an omega 3 fatty acid that is essential for the growth and functional development of a baby’s rapidly maturing brain. Women with larger thighs have higher levels of these brain-building fats, says David Bainbridge, reproductive biologist at Cambridge University.
According to professor Will Lassek, women have evolved to accumulate fat in their thighs and bottoms. Once a baby arrives, DHA is stripped from the fat deposits in these areas and delivered to the baby via breastfeeding. This is why some women can loose up to one pound of fat per month just by breastfeeding says Lassek.
Bainbridge also credits this brain-boosting booty fat for explaining why men have historically been attracted to an hourglass figure: women with curvier hips could produce more intelligent children, who are more ultimately more likely to survive.
Until this study, researchers were unsure why females typically have around 30 percent body fat compared to males’ five to 10 percent. “This is similar to the levels seen in bears going into hibernation or whales living in cold Arctic seas,” said Lassek, except in a woman’s case, the extra fat isn’t for feeding herself, but for her baby.
It seems trying to sculpt your body to chiseled perfection is somewhat of an uphill biological battle, and I have to admit, learning this did make me look at my lower half with a little more appreciation and acceptance – is that bad?
I’ve come a long way since standing in front of the mirror contemplating duct tape as a binding mechanism. I know whether I love my size and shape shouldn’t depend on if it’s appealing to a man or beneficial for my offspring’s IQ, but in a world where we’re bombarded with Photoshopped images of an impossible standard – impossibly thin, impossibly ripped, or both – it’s hard not to let that get into your head.
So for those days when you can’t fit into your jeans (skinny or otherwise), or you watch a guy take down a short stack with nary a flesh dimple in sight, I think it’s okay to have a little science to fall back on 😉
Know anyone who’s got gorgeous gams or beautiful buns? Share this with them!
What do you think about all this? We’d love to hear in the comments!
Posted on June 25, 2015