What Body Shape Are You?

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Body shape is essentially determined by the area where body fat is predominantly stored. With this in mind, it follows that different body shapes can affect a women’s health in different ways; the way in which fat metabolises is dependant on where it is situated in the body, and this is what consequently leads to different health implications.

There are primarily 2 types of body shape commonly referred to, the ‘pear shape’, and the ‘apple shape’. Women who fall in between these 2 categories are sometimes referred to as ‘avocado’ shaped. Here we describe what is meant by ‘pear shaped’ and ‘apple shaped’, the health implications for both, and how to dress to flatter these body shapes.

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Apple and pear shape body images

Pear shaped generally describes women who store fat below the waistline on their hips, thighs, and bottoms, as opposed to their stomachs and mid-sections. Such fat being stored on the thighs often leads to cellulite. Commonly the upper torso is relatively slim in comparison to these lower parts of the body, with shoulders and bust being narrow compared to the hips. Pear shaped women are commonly viewed as ‘bottom heavy’ with well defined waists.

To see whether you are pear shaped, obtain your ‘hip-waist ratio’ (also known as ‘trunk fatness’) ~ divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement; if the ratio is 0.8 or below then you are pear shaped.

Famous pear shaped celebrities include singer Baby Spice and Oscar nominated actress Kate Winslet.

What to wear if you are a ‘pear’

  • Trousers or skirts that emphasise your well defined waist area (softly pleated or flat-fronted). Try hipster trousers, as these will eliminate that gaping waist problem common to all pear shaped women.
  • A-line skirts/wraps are by far the most flattering for ‘pears’ as they slim the hips and emphasise the smaller waist area. Short, tight skirts should be avoided as these will accentuate the tops of your thighs, and divert attention to that problematic area below the waist
  • Avoid light coloured bottoms and stick to darker blues and browns which absorb the light
  • Tops should be fitted and focus the eye to your upper body (beautiful necklines, patterns and colours). They should not be baggy as these will cover your waist, and instead should finish at the top of your hips so that your waist is emphasised
  • Choose accessories (jewellery and scarves) that avert attention upward away from the hips and thighs.

Apple shaped

Apple shaped tends to describe women who have wide torsos (full bust, waist and upper back), as they store body fat around the mid section of their bodies (stomach, abdomen and chest). Such women have relatively slim thighs and upper legs. Apple shaped women often have a ‘top-heavy’ appearance, with a bust and midriff bigger than their hips, a prominent tummy and a flat bottom.

To assess whether you are apple shaped, again measure your hip-waist ratio; if the ratio is greater than 0.8, then you are apple shaped.

If you are apple-shaped then you are in good company ~ other famous UK ‘apples’ include the beautiful Elizabeth Hurley and Oscar winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.

What to wear if you are an ‘apple’

  • Trousers and skirts that are straight. Avoid very fitted or tailored garments, particularly those with well defined waist bands as these will only draw unwanted attention to your mid-section
  • Avoid mixing and matching many different colours. Choose monochromatic outfits, as the use of just one colour will create an overall impression of length that will focus away from your width
  • Tops should cover the hip area and be worn over tapered trousers that flatter slimmer legs. Shorter skirts also help to draw interest to your lower body region. Light coloured hosiery (preferably ‘nude’) will help focus attention on your legs
  • Pockets should be avoided as often these can be unflattering and attract unwanted attention to the upper body

Health implications

Research recently conducted in Sweden has shown that there is a definite correlation between women with larger hips (pear shaped) and a lowered risk of heart disease. This is due to the reduced likelihood of fat deposits from the hips travelling around the body to areas near the heart. Similarly, women who are pear shaped are probably less likely to be at risk from high blood pressure, strokes, gall bladder disease, diabetes, and breast cancer, thus making pear shaped the more healthy shape when comparing it to apple shaped.

Pear shaped women may also be more fertile than their apple shaped friends due to higher levels of the hormone oestrogen. However a conflicting view is that the higher level of oestrogen may lead to an increased risk of endometriosis, which in turn may make conceiving problematic.

The location of stored fat in an apple shaped woman is more problematic than for a pear shaped woman as it does not just store under the skin in the way that cellulite would in a pair shaped woman; fat that is stored around the abdomen and chest of an apple shaped woman builds up around surrounding internal organs such as the kidneys, liver and most importantly the heart. This is the reason why it is more dangerous to be overweight if you are apple shaped than if you are pear shaped.

Ultimately you cannot change your fundamental body shape. Research is still ongoing as to what causes women to fall in to either category. However, ‘apples’ do tend to find it easier to shed excess body weight than ‘pears’, as fatty deposits around the stomach area will break down far quicker than fat stored on the hips and thighs. Thus with a sensible diet and exercise regime, the increased health risks for an ‘apple’ can be counterbalanced, and an apple shaped woman can impact on her overall shape. ‘Pears’ will also lose weight from their upper body more easily than from their hips and thighs, but will always maintain their same basic ‘pear shape.’

Katie McCullough

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