Women with apple-shaped bodies feel worse about themselves than ‘pears’ and are more likely to say they are overweight, study finds
- Apple-shaped women feel worse about themselves than pear-shaped women
- The term refers to women who carry their weight around their bellies
- One study took into account 1,093 women and measured their body and body fat percentage
Apple-shaped women who carry their weight around their bellies tend to feel worse about themselves than those who are pear-shaped, a study suggests.
It considered 1,093 women and measured both their bodies and their percentage of body fat, while asking them questions about their weight.
Those with fat around their midsection were more likely to call themselves overweight and said they wanted to weigh less compared to those who wore it on their hips, buttocks and thighs — a body type often described as pear-shaped.
The researchers then studied another 215 women to find out whether their body shape had an effect on how attractive they felt. “Women with fat distributed over their hips, buttocks, and thighs did not consider themselves less attractive, nor did they have lower self-esteem, regardless of how much fat they had on their bodies,” said study author Dr. Michael Barlev, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona. State University in the USA.
Apple-shaped women who carry their weight around their bellies tend to feel worse about themselves than those who are pear-shaped, study suggests (stock image)
“Women with fat in their stomachs, on the other hand, perceived themselves as less attractive and had lower self-esteem the more fat they had on their bodies — it’s quite a striking difference.”
dr. Barlev said the women’s feelings may be partly a response to the way society feels about them. “Society views and treats women differently, depending not only on how much fat they carry on their bodies, but also where they wear it on their bodies,” he added.
This may have evolutionarily important reasons, he said, because storing fat on the hips, thighs and buttocks — the gluteofemoral area — may be better for reproduction, so men evolved to find it more attractive. He explained that research had found that storing fat in these lower regions could be a sign that a woman has not yet had children, meaning “she has her entire reproductive career ahead of her.”
Gluteofemoral fat is also a store of fatty acids that are mobilized for baby brain growth during late pregnancy and milk production, he said.
Those with fat around their midsection were more likely to call themselves overweight and said they wanted to weigh less compared to those who wore it on their hips, buttocks and thighs – a body type often described as pear-shaped (stock image)
And studies have shown that a high ratio of gluteofemoral to belly fat is linked to better maternal health after childbirth and better brain development for children.
“One of the things that I think is very important is that these findings overturn our views on fat,” said Dr. Barlev.
“Instead of all fat being unattractive or ‘bad’, this shows that some women classified as overweight or even obese can actually have very positive psychological outcomes.”
‘Everyone thinks, for example, that self-esteem goes down in heavyweight women. We show that this is not the case in women with a gluteofemoral fat distribution.’
The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.