Why Women Store Fat in their Hips and Breasts

Low was looking to explain why young women have fat on their breasts and buttocks more than on other parts of their bodies. The reason this requires explaining is that young women are different from other human beings in this respect. Older women, young girls, and men of all ages gain fat on their torsos and limbs much more evenly. If a woman of twenty or so gains weight, it largely takes the form of fat on the breasts and buttocks; her waist can remain remarkably narrow.

So much is undisputed fact. What follows is entirely conjecture, and it was a conjecture that caused Low a good deal of sometimes vicious (and mostly foolish) criticism when she published the idea in 1987

Twenty-year-old women are in their breeding prime; therefore, the unusual pattern of fat distribution might be expected to be connected with getting a mate or bearing children. Standard explanations concern the bearing of children; for example, fat is inconvenient if it competes for space about the waist with a fetus. Low's explanation concerns the attraction of mates and takes the form of a Red Queen race between males and females. A man looking for a wife is likely to be descended from men who found two things attractive (among many others): big breasts, for feeding his children, and wide hips, for bearing them. Death during infancy due to a mother's milk shortage would have been common before modern affluence—and still is in some parts of the world. Death of the mother and infant from a birth canal that was too narrow must also have been common. Birth complications are peculiarly frequent in humans for the obvious reason that the head size of a baby at birth has been increasing quickly in the past 5 million years. The only way birth canals kept pace (before Julius Caesar's mother was cut open) was through the selective death of narrow hipped women.

Grant, then, that early men may have preferred women with relatively wide hips and large breasts. That still does not explain the gaining of fat on breasts and hips; fat breasts do not produce more milk than lean ones, and fat hips are no farther apart than lean ones of the same bone structure. Low thinks women who gained fat in those places may have deceived men into thinking they had milkful breasts and wide hip bones. Men fell for it— because the cost of distinguishing fat from heavy breasts or of distinguishing fat from wide hips was just too great, and the opportunity to do so was lacking. Men have counterattacked, evolutionarily speaking, by "demanding" small waists as proof of the fact that there is little subcutaneous fat, but women have easily overcome this by keeping waists slim even while gaining fat elsewhere.


Young women deceive men about their sexual fitness with fat to make their hips look wider and their breasts larger.

Folksonomies: evolution sex evolutionary strategy sexual

/family and parenting/children (0.428794)
/sports/boxing (0.332290)
/family and parenting/motherhood/pregnancy (0.320713)

breasts (0.994560 (negative:-0.664364)), Breasts Young women (0.934124 (negative:-0.714422)), wide hips (0.897369 (neutral:0.000000)), fat breasts (0.854400 (negative:-0.609542)), little subcutaneous fat (0.803868 (negative:-0.671926)), fat hips (0.758656 (negative:-0.576836)), relatively wide hips (0.685613 (neutral:0.000000)), fat distribution (0.669916 (neutral:0.000000)), big breasts (0.647219 (neutral:0.000000)), heavy breasts (0.631125 (neutral:0.000000)), large breasts (0.623349 (neutral:0.000000)), milkful breasts (0.613403 (negative:-0.746155)), Red Queen race (0.576832 (negative:-0.275164)), narrow hipped women (0.575334 (negative:-0.294694)), Standard explanations concern (0.573992 (negative:-0.503763)), Low thinks women (0.561711 (negative:-0.746155)), way birth canals (0.554550 (negative:-0.238986)), lean ones (0.535699 (negative:-0.593189)), wide hip bones (0.534455 (negative:-0.746155)), Twenty-year-old women (0.447251 (neutral:0.000000)), sexual fitness (0.437762 (negative:-0.714422)), Older women (0.432355 (neutral:0.000000)), undisputed fact (0.430773 (positive:0.356099)), small waists (0.430190 (negative:-0.671926)), gains weight (0.421316 (negative:-0.350902)), human beings (0.421233 (positive:0.479503)), young girls (0.416029 (positive:0.290645)), bearing children (0.415075 (neutral:0.000000)), good deal (0.407857 (negative:-0.319180)), milk shortage (0.404247 (neutral:0.000000))

Low:Person (0.956953 (negative:-0.446675)), Julius Caesar:Person (0.485141 (neutral:0.000000)), Grant:Person (0.439273 (positive:0.252742)), 1987 Twenty-year:Quantity (0.439273 (neutral:0.000000)), 5 million years:Quantity (0.439273 (neutral:0.000000))

Waist-hip ratio (0.943363): dbpedia | yago
Childbirth (0.860465): dbpedia | freebase
Hip (0.616238): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Gain (0.600454): dbpedia | freebase
Pelvis (0.533822): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Woman (0.496535): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Infant (0.485299): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Female (0.478254): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Ridley , Matt (2003-05-01), The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, Harper Perennial, Retrieved on 2011-05-03
Folksonomies: evolution culture sex evolutionary psychology


04 SEP 2011

 Waist-to-Hip Ratio in Women and the Storage of Fat as a S...

The Waist-to-Hip Ratio > Cause and Effect > Why Women Store Fat in their Hips and Breasts
Men are attracted to women with a waist-to-hip ratio that indicates both fitness and the ability to bare children; therefore, women of the age of puberty begin to store fat in their breasts and hips to give the illusion of such a ratio.