Hating on our curves is something that is both easy and demoralizing. But maybe we are letting unrealistic beauty norms poison our thoughts toward bodies built for survival. Curvology: The Origins and Power of Female Body Shape, by David Bainbridge, is a book that ventures to explain the “how” and the “why” of the shape of women’s bodies. Bainbridge, a trained veterinarian and zoologist, writes directly in the introduction that humans are the only species in existence with curvy females. The book is divided into three parts: The Body, the Mind and the World. Each of these tells a different part of the story about female form, whether scientific, historical or cultural.
Critics rest easy, though a man wrote this book, Bainbridge recognizes that his state as a “forty-something Caucasian male” may not make him the “ideal person to write a book about human female body shape.” He also brings women’s voices into the book throughout with quotes at the beginning of each chapter from different interviewees. Representative of different ages and varying body mass index sizes, the anonymous interviewers have one thing in common: A general dissatisfaction with at least one aspect of their bodies.
But guess what? This female form that has been scrutinize for years upon years is built with purpose—extra fat included. From Part One of Curvology, here are some of the ways that your fat is working for your benefit:
1. Fat can keep you alive—for months
Stored body fat = energy for really, really long walks
We learn in Curvology that fat is not just the blubbery stuff floating around, reeking havoc, and keeping our jeans from fitting. It is a form of stored energy in our bodies, and is housed in cells called adipocytes. By storing huge amounts of energy and calories in our bodies, fat has the capability to keep us alive for up to two months. Women carry even more fat, which would be able to sustain the needs of pregnancy. Cool, huh? No wonder ancestors who carried fat were the ones who passed along their genes—body fat can keep you alive!
2. It’s not the size of the curves that counts...it’s all about location, location, location
High fives for your curves: The “hourglass” and “pear” shapes, unique to women’s bodies, distribute fat in a way that benefits health. The gluteofemoral fat that resides in the thighs and butt are less harmful than abdominal fat linked with things like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This means that the shape of women's curves dictate the likeliness of getting diseases. A low waist-hip ratio is even linked to protection from some forms of breast cancer, dementia and gall bladder disease, according to Bainbridge.
3. Plus, the fat in your butt and thighs is actively fighting off disease!
Not only does the distribution of fat in women’s bodies prevent diseases, gluteofemoral fat in women does something that it doesn’t do for men: it releases substances that help maintain a healthy metabolism. This means the fat in your butt and thighs is actually actively warding off potential diseases, while simultaneously not releasing toxicity to your body like omental, or bad belly, fat. Way to work it, thighs!
4. If you're trying to have a mini-me, higher body fat ups your chances of pregnancy.
The female reproductive system is ruled by hormones including one important one called leptin. Leptin is thought to provide information to the brain about when puberty should occur, and guess what it's made of? That's right: fat. Bainbridge writes that fat in the butt and thighs produces an increased amount of leptin as puberty goes on, "The curves are 'speaking' to the brain." With the brain staying informed about the amount of fat that is in the body, it is able to secrete more or less estrogen and progesterone depending upon the body's apparent preparedness for pregnancy based on fat levels.
5. Women with larger thighs are more intelligent, and so are their offspring!
Bainbridge explains studies that show women's lower body fat stores a rich amount of omega-three poly-unsaturated fatty acids. This lipid molecule is vital to producing humans' famously large brains. Thus, the larger the thighs, the more of these molecules, resulting in more intelligent brains! And, when these molecules are passed on, children of women with larger thighs have proved to be smarter as well. Even more interestingly, girl offspring in this scenario reap the benefits more so than the boys. Who runs the world?
There you have it. Sizable curves equal intelligence and health benefits, so next time you look in the mirror, make sure you tell your body (especially your lower-half), "Thanks!"
Photo via IMDB.
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