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Well, does it? Be honest.

Actually, I just wanted to get your attention, but I will admit that my jeans feel a bit snug after a long winter of stews, soups, and casseroles. But that’s changing since I’m drifting into my spring eating habits. I like to wander culinarily from season to season. I’m into the fresh stuff right now, which is naturally lower in calories, so I never stress much about small weight fluctuations either way.

But I do fuss about it when my jeans start feeling too tight. Maybe I shouldn’t. Ladies, the next time you’re doing that thing in front of the mirror where you squirm around twisting and twirling, trying to see whether your jeans look too tight or your bum looks too big, just stop – don’t even bother. You’re way too smart for that. Seriously. Research shows a direct correlation between an ample booty and increased cognitive ability – in women and their offspring.


And whose idea was it to do a study on curvy women and brain power, anyway?

I wonder.

But, I’m also not complaining. In fact, I’m thinking it’s about dang time. Yippee, hallelujah, and pass the gluten-free snickerdoodles!

The study I’m referring to has to do with omega-3 fatty acids (no pun intended), a woman’s waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and the relative proportion of upper-body fat to lower-body fat. We’re talking smaller waists and bigger rear-ends and hips, so this full-figured, hippo-mamma featured above wouldn’t qualify. She doesn’t exactly have a small waist, but I think we can safely say she’s bottom heavy.

Dr. William Lassek, a rather geeky* University of Pittsburgh epidemiologist, co-authored a recently released study entitled, Waist-hip ratio and cognitive ability: is gluteofemoral fat a privileged store of neurodevelopmental resources? Published in Evolution and Human Behavior, it suggests that men prefer women with smaller waists and wider hips for evolutionary reasons. Survival of the fittest. According to the research, those women are smarter and have a heightened survival advantage. In addition, the study found that the children of vee-vee-la-voom moms also scored higher on cognitive tests.

The body fat around a woman’s hips is higher in omega-3s, which improves brain function and is important to fetal neuro-development. Omega-3s also boost fertility and overall health. According to Dr. Lassek and his colleagues, it stands to reason that for survival purposes, men would prefer women who are smarter, more fertile, healthier, and who produce brighter offspring. The curves just come with the territory.

Oooh – so, men can’t help it?

I see. Gawking at curvy women is just a matter of male genetic expression. Slack-jawed drooling can’t possibly be part of the natural selection process, so don’t get carried away, but this is certainly interesting and entertaining research.

Little did we know that waist-to-hip ratio has been of interest to evolutionary psychologists for years now. Several studies, including an analysis of data collected by the US Department of Health and Human Services (our tax money at work), link female body shape with mental performance. Lower-body fat is higher in omega-3s while abdominal and upper-body fat is higher in omega-6s and saturated fats. It is hypothesized that omega-6s are less important to brain development and function and may even be detrimental. Omega-3s are thought to enhance communication between brain cells, making for zippy intelligence.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers compared female waste-to-hip ratios to scores on cognitive function tests and found that a lower WHR correlated with higher scores. They also found that as the mom’s ratio goes down, the children’s intelligence scores go up. The data is fairly persuasive. The study sample included more than 16,000 women and the curvy girls with hourglass figures outsmarted the skinny ones on cognitive tests – same with their offspring.

Are you wondering how you figure out this magical ratio and how your IQ is somehow connected to your rear-end? You divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement and hope for the best. According to these guys (remember these are guys doing the research), this study suggests an “ideal” WHR of somewhere around 0.6 to 0.7. Think J-Lo – small waist, ample booty.

Bottom line? Next time you shop for new jeans and have to give up after 10 minutes of shimmying and wrestling with a size that just won’t cooperate with you, let it go. You’re too smart for those jeans anyway!

* I actually find “geeky” very appealing. I’m thinking that the curvy women, if they were that smart, probably chose the guys who could protect them from the sabertoothed tigers. Would that be the big strong cavemen-types or the resourceful MacGyver-types?  Well, here we are a bazillion years later and it’s the geeky guys doing the research on the curvy girls.

Isn’t life grand? Evolutionarily speaking.

Go forth and embrace those curves.

9 Responses to “does my butt look big”

  1. Lizzie says:

    I am sooooooo sending this post to my boyfriend who mentioned before that I have “great child-bearing hips.” He was trying to be sweet — I think, but I was a bit insulted — until now! Another great post Melissa. 🙂

  2. karina says:

    Fascinating. Go J-Lo. But I have so many questions! (she says shifting in her too tight jeans). And as for the geeks way back when? While the jock extroverts were all socializing around the campfire comparing the size of their wieners, who do you think was off to the side diligently designing traps and tools and spear heads?

    Geeks rule. 😉

  3. Melissa says:

    Hey Lizzie — don’t be insulted. Thank him for recognizing the good stuff in the gene pool! Celebrate those curves!

    Karina — I just about spit my tea out when I read your comment! You’re so right; armed with a loin cloth, some twigs, and a blowdart, those geeky MacGyver-types not only survived, but all these thousands of years later ended up with the curvy girls (all 16,000 of them in this study)!

  4. No, Melissa but your brain must be of adequate size because humor is one of the best signs of intelligence!

  5. Megan says:


    Some Mondays are just like any other day, but today was a M-O-N-D-A-Y for me and someone mentioned this post and and just the title and the picture made me laugh.
    Thank you for helping my Monday and my overly critical opinion of my heinie.


  6. Melissa says:

    Aahh, yes, the brain-booty connection! I love it!

    Megan — Are M-O-N-D-A-Y’s worse than regular Monday’s? Glad the photo made you laugh. Funny, but every time I see it, I smile too. Celebrate the heinie! I love that word, by the way. Wish I would have thought of it while writing this article. It’s hard coming up with new and dainty ways of saying butt.

  7. How fun!! It can also look like someones (guy) front!! Oops, did I just say that? 🙂

  8. Melissa says:

    Yes, I was wondering what the counter-study was! And who was doing it? And . . .

  9. […] into my blog posts. Like why your pee smells weird if you eat too much asparagus. Or why curvy women score higher on cognitive tests. So, I couldn’t resist adding some strange beet science to this post. […]

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