Flatter me. But be careful.
I’m in the midst of writing a blog post on nutrition and brain health and while it’s in the works, I thought I’d dig this past post out of my WordPress archive basement, dust it off and rerun it. It has to do with brain function, so it will be a good precursor to the one I’m working on now. This one was written three years ago, but nothing has changed. The research still stands and yes, I’m proud to say I have a summa cum laude booty to shake.
Maybe the question should be, does this PhD make my butt look big?
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.
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, it’s about dang time we celebrated our brainy curves.
The study I’m referring to has to do with omega-3 fatty acids (no pun intended), a woman’s waist-to-hip ratio (WHP) 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 we can safely say she’s bottom heavy.
Dr. William Lassek, a rather geeky* University of Pittsburgh epidemiologist, co-authored a 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, I get it. So, men can’t help it?
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.
And, 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 dollars at work), link female body shape with mental performance. Lower-body fat (hips and booty) 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 goes up. The data is fairly persuasive. The study sample included more than 16,000 women and the curvy girls outsmarted the skinny and pear-shaped girls on cognitive tests – same with their offspring.
Are you wondering how to 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 you 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 happen to find “geeky” very appealing. I’m thinking the curvy women, if they were that smart, probably chose the guys who could protect them from the sabertooth tigers. Would that be the strong caveman-types or the resourceful and bright 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.
You might also like another interesting male/female study I wrote about – gluten-free pumpkin pecan boyfriend bait
Embrace your curves and shake your booty!