Impact Factor: Silhouette

Knowing your body silhouette is important.  Honestly, your weight is far less significant than your silhouette.  For example, I weigh approximately 150 lbs.  I took like i weigh less (and people routinely think i am lighter) because i gain my weight around my waist not thighs and hips, so i maintain a long slender look.  This might sound like a blessing; but, even at my perfect weight, i barely look like i have hips or a bum.  It is very difficult for me to look womanly and sultry.  Whereas, i have seen females 30 lbs heavier than me that seem to gain their weight in all the right places and i envy their curvy physique.

What makes a body silhouette beautiful?

Silhouettes are believed to be a quick snapshot of your health.  The ideal hip to waist ratio for a woman being 0.7 and 0.9 for a man.  These ratios are believed to indicate good health and fertility. Given that my weight gain through my waist is likely associated with PCOS (an ovarian condition, which reduces my fertility), making it hard for me to reach the 0.7 ratio, I am inclined to believe this theory.

Han, Morrison, and Lean even put this theory to the test.  They asked 362 people to rate different silhouettes to determine if silhouettes do indicate health.  They were shown two pictures with different hip to waist ratios and asked questions like “Which woman is likely to live longer?”  They found that both large and small hips were indicators of poor health, and hip to weight ratios 0.7 or smaller, were in fact evaluated as healthier.

So, smaller isn’t necessarily better?

Looking beautiful means looking healthy.  A size 0 no-hips is not necessarily evaluated as well as a size 12 proportional woman.

You might hate to admit it, but you might have a nagging feeling in your gut right now saying, “Yeah well, that might be true, but guys still want the skinny girls”.  But is that really true?  Previous studies have shown that women believe that the ideal women men want is 20% thinner than what men actually want.  A study by Cohn and Adler also found that not only do women think their bodys are bigger than they are, but they also think that other women think the ideal female body is smaller than what women actually think.  So not only do we not know what men want, we aren’t even in touch with what females really think is beautiful.  Then to make matters worse, we all start with the assumption that we are fatter than we are.  So stop comparing your body to anyones.  We clearly do not have the mental ability to be fair to ourselves.

What to do?

I have accepted that obtaining the perfect hip to waist ratio will be very difficult for me.  I have also embraced the idea that humans are not perfectly rational or objective and can easily be tricked.  For example, this classic optical illusion:


Believe it or not, all of those lines are straight.  Thus, it would appear that i can give my straight hips a bit of a curve with the right manipulation.  I generally achieve this by having a bold pattern/colour that draws the eye around my hips and then a lighter/neutral top that reduces attention, followed by a bolder statement (like a chunky necklace or scarf) higher on my chest.  I also love Empire waisted dresses, which emphasize the smallest part of your torso instead of your actual waist.  Here is an wikiHow article that can give you some pointers.

But most of all, have fun.  Always remember that you are your worst critic, so instead of always concentrating on what to hide, think about what you want to show off.  Care the most about feeling happy and healthy, and fake the rest.

Interesting Reads:

Han, T. S., Morrison, C. E., & Lean, M. E. (1999). Age and health indications assessed by silhouette photographs. European journal of clinical nutrition,53(8), 606-611.

Cohn, L. D., & Adler, N. E. (1992). Female and male perceptions of ideal body shapes: Distorted views among Caucasian college students. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 16(1), 69-79.