Medical Daily / Dr. Constantino Mendieta

A Big Butt Obsession: Why Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine Cover’s So Appealing, According To Science

November 17, 2014
kim k


Kim Kardashian’s recent Paper magazine photo sparks a dialogue on both the societal and biological roots to man’s obsession with big butts. Photo courtesy of Instagram

On Nov. 11, 2014, Kim Kardashian West revealed her bare backside on the cover of Papermagazine, and for a moment, the world stood still. Nothing else mattered but Kardashian and her curvaceous backside, and although the photo didn’t manage to “break the Internet,” as the headline promised, it did stir up an unbelievable amount of public attention. While Kardashian’s butt is impressive, to say the least, she did have a bit of a head start because the world’s both societal and biological obsession with the female backside was around way before reality TV.

Live Long And Proper

Evolutionary scientists suggest that the male fascination with a large female backside is based on a male’s instinctual preference for females with “the perfect waist-hip ratio.”  According to The Independent, the smaller the waist is in relation to the hip, the more desirable the woman. This desire has biological roots too, though, and research has shown that women with small waists and big hips have higher levels of fertility.

In a 2004 study, researchers studied the body shapes of 119 Polish women by taking morning saliva samples for measuring hormones throughout their menstrual cycle, the BBC reported.

“In Western societies, the cultural icon of Barbie as a symbol of female beauty seems to have some biological grounding,” said Dr. Grazyna Jasienska, lead researcher of the study, after finding that women who had larger hips and smaller waists had higher levels of hormones necessary to get pregnant.

Along with being a sign of fertility, a separate study found curvy hips to be associated with intelligence.  The 2008 study found that the greater the difference between the waist and hips, the higher the women and her offspring scored on tests. In other words, women with big butts and tiny waists were deemed smarter and give birth to smarter children. Researchers explained that this may be because the fat around fuller hips and thighs holds higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the growth of the brain during pregnancy, Fox News reported.

Wider hips are not only needed to grow big-brained tiny humans but also to give birth to them. Unfortunately, as reported by the American Scientist, one in 1,000 human mothers is unable to fit her child’s head through her birth canal, which results in a Cesarean section.

Women with big hips and tiny waists have also been observed to have longer lifespans than women without curves. Researchers believe this may be because waist fat, unlike hip and butt fat, is a lead contributing factor to diabetes and heart disease, Fox News reported.

Big Butts Are Good For Business

Although the association between big butts and fertility is real, not all societies have the same fascination with full derrière as we do in the West. Androgens are a class of hormones that are associated with strength, stamina, and competitiveness. These hormones also cause fat to increase around the waist, LiveScience reported. A 2008 study found that in countries where food is scarce and women bear more physical responsibility, men will take a preference for physical strength over fertility.

“Lower or higher androgen/estrogen ratios (or value them equally) should depend on the degree to which they want their mates to be strong, tough, economically successful, and politically competitive,” wrote Elizabeth Cashdan, lead author of the study. Her team found that a bigger emphasis was placed on a tiny waist and big hips in countries where women were less economically independent, then in countries where there is more sexual equality.

According to Dr. Dionne Stephens, an associate psychology professor at Florida International University, large booties have long been preferable in Latino and black communities but have become more mainstream thanks to pop culture influences.

“When people see things repeated on TV more and more, it becomes normalized,” Stephens told Perth Now.

Butt augmentation rates are skyrocketing in America. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, these operations have increased by 58 percent from 2013 to 2014, with Dr. Constantino Mendieta, an ASAPS member claiming that he is “seeing a tremendous rise in requests for buttock augmentation procedures.”

This quest for backside beauty has come with a price, however. So far, deaths in Miami, New York, Las Vegas, and Jackson, Miss., have been reported in association with butt enlargement surgeries gone wrong.


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