Body

The Popular Body Shapes of Women. How to Identify and how Hormones Affect the Body Shape?

How the body shape of a woman changes from puberty to adulthood.

[dropcap]”[/dropcap]What is your body shape?” You may define yourself by how hot, how frail, how firm, how flabby, or how curvy you believe you are. However, it is possible to assess your natural-born body type objectively. Human bodies exist in a diversity of shapes and sizes. That is one of the characteristics that distinguish every one of us.

This article summarizes how hormones affect the body shape, what body shapes are available and how to measure to identify each body shape.

HOW DOES A BODY SHAPE OF A FEMALE CHANGE WITH TIME?

The transition from childhood to adolescence and to the older self is a time of tremendous change on all levels: the body shape, physical, emotional, cognitive, and social changes occur. Throughout this developmental period, a female’s bodies undergo a variety of changes.

1. Puberty

One of the changes that puberty brings into women is the change of body shape. Puberty is the collective term for the series of changes in the body and its hormones due to sexual maturity. Puberty typically begins for females between the ages of 9 and 11 and most boys between the ages of 9.5 and 13. Still, the exact age at which puberty begins varies significantly between individuals. The primary stakeholder of all body changes is the hormonal changes that a female goes through within her life, from puberty to pregnancy or even aging.  Let’s discuss what every part of your body goes through in different stages of life.

Body Shape Changes During Puberty
Breast Development
  • In most females, the first symptom of puberty is the formation of breasts, and it begins with a tiny swelling behind the nipple, a stage of development referred to as breast buds.
  • Breasts in their early stages of development can be highly sensitive, painful, and unpleasant. However, when the female body gains fat, it becomes round and plump. As the areola darkens and enlarges, the nipple may become erect or protrude out.
  • It is not unusual for one breast to grow earlier than the other.
  • The rate at which the breasts grow in size is regulated by heredity and an individual’s weight.
Body Hair
  • Hair will begin to grow in the vaginal area, under the arms, and on the coarser legs.
  • The appearance of pubic hair in certain females (about 15%) may be the earliest symptom of puberty, appearing before the onset of breast blossoming.
Increase in Height
  • Girls often experience their development spurt earlier than guys. Girls typically grow at their highest pace between the time breast buds begin to form and around six months before their menstruation.
  • Once a girl has her first period, her development begins to decelerate. Most females gain another 1-2 inches in height following their period, but more growth is uncommon.
Body Structure 
  •  Feet, legs, and arms all develop more rapidly than the rest of the body.
  • Hips become broader and more prominent. Increased fat accumulation in the legs, belly, and buttocks may occur.
  • These alterations may accentuate the curves by making the waist appear smaller, and the buttocks appear rounder.
Body Weight
  • The majority of girls gain weight (which is natural) when their body shape changes.
  • Females accumulate more body fat in their upper arms, thighs, and upper back; their hips curve out, and their waist narrows.

2. Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings a multitude of changes to the body. They can range from basic and anticipated modifications, like swelling and fluid accumulation, to less recognizable ones.

Body Shape Changes During Pregnancy
Breast Changes
  • During pregnancy, a woman’s breasts typically grow one to two cup sizes.
  • Hormones associated with pregnancy that impact skin pigmentation frequently darken the areola. Pregnant women may experience discomfort or sensitivity as their breast develops.
Body Structure
  • Feet size enlarges. The feet are prepared to flatten and lengthen as a result of loosened ligaments in feet and an increase in body weight pressing down on the arch.
  • Waist As the baby and uterus develop in size, the waistline will begin to expand. Depending on the pre-pregnancy weight, this difference may not be noticeable until the second trimester.
  • Sometimes hips spread in pregnancy too, and they often don’t go back to what they were pre-pregnancy. 
  • Bigger belly and increased curvature of a woman’s spine.
Weight Gain
  • Weight gain ranges from 5 pounds (2.3 kg) to over 100 pounds (45 kg)
Swelling and Circumferential Increase
  • Gaining weight during pregnancy increases the burden placed on the body by any physical activity. This added weight and gravity cause blood and other fluids to circulate more slowly, particularly in the lower limbs. As a result, pregnant women retain fluid and suffer from facial and limb swelling.

3. Physiological Aging

Aging is one of the main factors affecting your shape and size over time. Whether you are an “apple” or a “pear” at birth, your general body shape will almost certainly change as you age. Overall, elderly people have a higher body fat percentage. Two things contribute to this: a slowed metabolism and a progressive loss of muscular tissue. What other changes are associated with aging? Read our article here.

Body Shape Changes During Aging
Breast Changes
  • Around the age of 40, women may see changes in the size and contour of their breasts. With aging, breast tissue naturally becomes less glandular and fattier, making them seem less firm and full. 
Fat and Weight  Changes 
  • In women, menopause results in a shift in fat accumulation from the lower region of the body (a “pear” shape) to the stomach (an “apple” shape).
  • Physical inactivity and a slowed metabolism may both contribute to weight gain. The body may be unable to burn as many calories as it once did, and any excess calories will be deposited as fat.
Muscle Mass 
  • Women lose muscle mass and strength as they get older because of a decrease in physical activity.
  • Individuals over the age of 30 lose 1% of their muscle mass each year.
Height Changes
  • Not only may individuals (both women/men) become wider as they age, they can also become shorter.
  • According to research, physical stature diminishes at an average yearly rate of between 0.08 and 0.10 percent for senior males and 0.12 to 0.14 percent for elderly females—equating to a loss of around 2 to 4 cm in height during a lifetime.
Feet Size
  • As people age, the feet may become larger as a result of weight gain, loose ligaments, or physical changes such as bunions. However, this does not indicate that the real bones are expanding. Rather than that, the feet gradually get flatter and broader. They lose elasticity like other body components, causing the arches to widen and droop.

ROLE OF HORMONES, FAT & MUSCLES IN THE BODY SHAPE

Changes in the body shape result from various elements that fall into two broad categories: those that are beyond your control and those that are under your control. The pace at which these changes occur is strongly related to lifestyle variables such as exercise, smoking, and food, and most importantly, our hormones.  A hormone is a chemical messenger in the human body. Hormones are produced in trace amounts by endocrine glands, released into the bloodstream, and carried to various parts of the body, where they influence certain physiological activities.

Hormones and the five primary human body shapes/types are closely linked.

It was observed that modifications or deficiencies in the function of glands or organs can result in the production of unique body shapes, which are primarily determined by the accumulation of excess fluid and fat. To initiate puberty, the hormone gonadotropin is produced, encouraging the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). LH and FSH encourage the ovaries to create another hormone, estrogen. These three are the primary hormones responsible for the changes that occur in the female body.

Estrogen is a sex hormone that is found in both sexes, but most profoundly in women. Estrogens aid in the development of female secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts and hips, among other things. Throughout adolescence, estrogens enable girls to develop breasts and widen hips. In contrast to estrogen, testosterone promotes muscle and facial hair growth in teenage girls. in conjunction with FSH and LH, assist in the maturation of a female’s body and prepare her for pregnancy. Aging effects as years of excessive sugar intake, low-calorie diets, and exposure to toxic chemicals can all impede or obstruct hormonal function. Hormone excess or deficiency, as well as disrupted communication, can significantly alter body shape.

Another important hormone is growth hormone which has a number of functions, including regulating height and assisting in the development of bones and muscles. Growth hormone levels peak throughout puberty.

Fats. Estrogens lead a female body to retain more fat than a male body and cause fat to be accumulated in women’s buttocks, thighs, and hips making a body shape. The distribution of body fat may fluctuate over time, based on eating habits, exercise levels, and hormone levels. Upon reaching menopause, as estrogen levels drop, fat migrates from the buttocks, hips, and thighs to the abdomen.

Muscles. They are another factor responsible for making a body shape. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that aids in muscle growth and maintenance. On average, an adult female generates around one-tenth of the testosterone produced by an adult man. The chest muscles, biceps, and triceps in the arms, as well as the quadriceps in the legs, are the muscles that are most susceptible to being influenced for making a body shape.

MEN VS WOMEN FAT STORAGE

Women are genetically predisposed to have a higher body fat percentage than men. According to the American Council on Exercise, an active woman will have between 21% and 24% body fat, whereas an active man would have between 14% and 17%. Both men and women require a specific amount of necessary fat in order to function correctly. For example, women need to have at least 10% body fat, but males require only 2% body fat. This is because women’s bodies must be capable of caring for a growing baby, which fat stores assist in doing. Estrogen production throughout puberty permits women to generate these required fat stores.

Men Women
  • Men are more likely to have an apple body shape.
  • Men’s bodies tend to retain fat in the upper body, particularly the abdominal area.
  • Decreased testosterone levels make it much simpler to transfer fat to the abdomen.
  • Most women have a pear-shaped body type.
  •  Women usually store fat in their buttocks, hips, lower abdomen, and thighs.
  • The thigh stores fat for pregnancy and lactation.
  • Gluteofemoral fat, which develops on the legs and butt, is actually a sign of good metabolic health.
  • Women’s estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels diminish as menopause approaches. This implies that women’s bodies begin to accumulate fat around even within the abdomen.

COMMON BODY SHAPES

According to research, women’s body shapes often fall into five groups. Any other body form is a combination of two different body shapes or a metaphor for one of the five other body shapes.

1. Rectangle / The Ruler Body Shaperectangle body shape

If you have the exact measurements over your entire body, you have a straight body type. This physique is sometimes referred to as the supermodel physique. Additionally, it is referred to as a banana or ruler body. Due to the absence of a marked waistline, the body tends to seem straight, and your waist is around the same size as your hips or breast, and your shoulders and hips are roughly the same widths. In 2005, a study at North Carolina State University found that 46% of women were banana-shaped.

2. Pear Shape / The Triangle Shapetriangle body shape

Having broad hips and a small bust is indicative of a  triangle-shaped figure. The triangle body form, also known as the pear body shape, is characterized by large hips proportionately more prominent than the rest of the frame. This results in reminiscent of the number 8. People with this body shape tend to acquire weight in the upper body, particularly the stomach area. According to a study conducted at North Carolina State University in 2005, just over 20% were pear-shaped.

3. The Hourglass Shapehourglass body shape

The hourglass shape is created when the hips and bust are  roughly equal in size. The buttocks are naturally rounded, and the chest line is in proportion while the waist is well defined. The shoulders are gently rounded, properly aligned with one’s shapely buttocks, and the legs are proportional to the upper body, as seen in the photo. 2005, a North Carolina study states that 8% of women are hourglass-shaped.

4. The Inverted Triangle Shapeinverted triangle body shape

Also known as half hourglass shape. In addition to having the basic hourglass form, this shape also has chest measures that are somewhat bigger than the hip measurements. The inverted triangle shape has the shoulders broad, hips are little, and legs are slim. The upper body seems voluminous, even though this shape lacks a clearly defined waist.

5. Apple Shape / The Round Shaperound body shape

If the bust is more significant than the body, while her hips are narrow and the stomach is fuller, they have what is commonly referred to as a round or oval body shape. Hips will appear small, but the midsection will appear complete. Women with certain physical types acquire weight in their stomachs first. The waist is not well-defined and hence becomes the body’s most significant portion. The buttocks are flat, and the legs are slender. 14% of women fall into this category according to research.

 

BODY SHAPE AND HEALTH RISKS

Apple Body Shape  Health Risk: Compared to other body types, the apple shape has the highest risk of health issues. The risk of heart disease increases with waist size. It may also signify an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Pear Body Shape  Health Risk: Most fat is stored in the lower half of “pears.” This sluggish fat is called “passive fat.” Pears have a lower metabolic risk than apples. While not as harmful as visceral fat, it causes varicose veins and arthritis.
Hourglass Shape These individuals accumulate weight evenly over their bodies, causing less visible changes upon putting weight. If they gain weight, they increase their chance of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease. A heavy chest can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain, making exercise difficult.
Inverted Triangle  This body type does not readily develop fat and is also more successful at losing weight when dieting. Triangular-shaped persons who consume a high-fat diet are more prone to heart disease. Also, persons with this body type are more prone to osteoporosis.
Rectangle The ruler body shape does contain fat. This is commonly referred to as “thin fat,” meaning someone with a healthy BMI yet has visceral fat surrounding their internal organs. It is common for people with this body type to lose bone density over time, which can result in osteoporosis.

 

WHAT ARE SOMATOTYPES?

The idea of body type, or somatotypes, was coined in the 1940s by William H. Sheldon, Ph.D., MD. The idea is that everyone fits nicely into one of the three groups below. Bear in mind that these are generalities and that the majority of us exhibit traits from two or perhaps all three somatotypes. These are endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs.

Somatotypes bodyshapes

Ectomorphs are often slim and lean, with slender waists, small hips and shoulders, petite joints, and long legs and arms. They are typically lean, with little body fat and less noticeable muscle mass. Ectomorphs may experience frequent hunger throughout the day due to their rapid metabolic rates; but, regardless of what, how often, or how much they eat, they do not acquire weight or muscle readily.

Naturally muscular, solid, and strong, mesomorphs often have a medium-sized physique with broad shoulders and a small waist, powerful arms and legs, and a low body fat percentage. Due to their natural predisposition for muscular development, mesomorphs frequently demand a slightly greater calorie intake (since muscle takes more calories to sustain) and more protein than other body shapes (again, for muscle maintenance). In general, mesomorphs have an easy time losing or gaining weight.

Endomorphic women are frequently described as curvy or full-figured. Endomorphs often have narrow shoulders and broader hips, with extra weight concentrated in the lower belly, hips, and thighs. It’s frequently difficult for them to lose weight, but with the correct diet and exercise regimen, it is possible.

Some intermix of these body shapes or types can be seen in the below forms:

Ecto-mesomorphs Meso-endomorphs Ecto-Endomorphs
  • Ecto-mesomorphs are slim and nimble, with strong-looking (but not bulky) arms and legs. They are often muscular, with V-shaped torsos (think: broad upper back, developed chest, and shoulders, narrow waist), and have strong-looking (but not bulky) limbs and legs.
  • This form is characterized by large arms and legs, as well as a boxy chest and mid-section, and they appear powerful without being sculpted. A possible explanation is that persons with this body shape tend to retain water and accumulate a layer of fat on top of their muscular tissue.
  • Ecto-endomorphs frequently have soft midsections, droopy chests, and flabby upper arms and legs as a result of neglect.

HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR BODY SHAPE?

Doctors do not determine your health only based on your body shape and physical form. They employ a few different techniques to determine how much body fat you have, and one of them is your BMI. It’s a statistic determined by your height and weight. Find out how to calculate your BMI by reading our article here.  However, it does not directly measure body fat or indicate the location of fat in the body.

Using your measurements (bust, waist, high hip, hips), calculate your silhouette form using the FFIT Female Figure Identification Technique for Apparel formula. .

FFIT Formula to Identify Female Body Shape

The Female Figure Identification Technique for Apparel adopts the below formula to identify an individual’s body type:

Hourglass – if (bust – hips) <= 1 in (25 mm) AND (hips – bust) < 3.6 in (91 mm) AND (bust – waist) >= 9 in (230 mm) OR (hips – waist) >= 10 in (250 mm)

Bottom Hourglass – if (hips – bust) <= 3.6 in (91 mm) AND (hips – bust) < 10 in (250 mm) AND (hips – waist) >= 9 in (230 mm) OR (high hip / waist) < 1.193 in (30 mm)

Top Hourglass – if (bust – hips) <= 1 in (25 mm) AND (bust  – hips) < 10 in (250 mm) AND (bust – waist) >= 9 in (230 mm)

Spoon/ Apple Shape – if (hips – bust) > 2 in (51 mm) AND (hips – waist) >= 7 in (180mm) AND (high hip / waist) >= 9 in (230 mm)

Triangle / Pear Shape – if (hips – bust) >= 3.6 in (91 mm) AND (hips – waist) < 9 in (230 mm)

Inverted Triangle – if (bust – hips) >= 3.6 in (91 mm) AND (bust – waist) < 9 in (230 mm)

Rectangle – if (hips – bust) <= 3.6 in (91 mm) AND (bust – hips) < 3.6 in (91 mm) AND (bust – waist) < 9 in (230 mm) AND (hips – waist) < 10 in (250 mm)

Alternatively, in the mirror, look directly at yourself and begin to take note of your dimensions. The relationship between three places on your body determines your body shape: your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips. Draw an imaginary line from your shoulders to your hips and mentally record the point at which the line intersects. If you’re having difficulty visualizing, it might be beneficial to take a short mirror selfie for reference. Ask yourself the following questions and then compare your responses to the body types below.

  • Q1. Which area of your body is the widest—your breast, waist, or hips?
  • Q2. Which part of your body are you most conscious of when it comes to weight changes? The upper part, middle, or lower part?
  • Q3. Which of the objects best describes your body shape? A pencil hourglass or a pear?
  • Q4. When do you look in the mirror, which of the factors appears to be the most dominant? Bones, muscles, or body fat?
  • Q5. How do your shoulders compare to your hips? Are they Equal, Narrower, or wider than hips?
  • Q6. How would you describe the bone structure of your body? A smaller frame, a medium or larger frame?

If the majority of your responses fall into the first category, you are most likely a rectangle body type; if they fall into the second category, you are either an hourglass or an inverted triangle body type; and if they fall into the third category, you are either a round-shaped body type or a triangle body type.

The other method is to measure yourself via measuring tape. Measure in the following way;

  • Shoulders. This is the toughest measurement to take as solo, so ask for help. Wrap the measuring tape over you like a shawl until it joins back at the same shoulder. The tape should almost slide off your shoulders.
  • Bust. Straighten your back and wrap the measuring tape over the fullest region of your breasts, which is normally in the middle. Pull the measuring tape as tautly as possible without distorting your breasts’ contour.
  • Waist. Wrap the tape around your body at your natural waist’s narrowest point. It should actually fit around your back and end just above your belly button.
  • Hips. Hold the measuring tape at the widest region of one hip, below the hip bone. Then, holding the tape taut, wrap it all around your other hip and back to the meeting place.

 

CAN WE CHANGE OUR BODY SHAPE?

Even if your weight remains constant, exercise can help you lose deeper fat and develop muscle. On most days of the week, attempt to obtain at least 30 minutes of moderate activity. Muscle-building exercises such as weightlifting or yoga can also aid. Want to learn what workout works best for you? Read here. Often, your physical form is predetermined from birth. No two adult bodies are identical. Is it possible to change your shape completely?

That’s a resounding “no.” A good fitness program and good nutrition may dramatically enhance your health and looks. But the good news is that you may transform your body shape for health, fitness, or a more pleasing appearance with the correct training regimens. However, regardless of your appearance, there are several ways to stay healthy.

Most of all, it’s important to love yourself as you are and recognize your worth as you should. Women require more fat to support the body and fat on the thigh and hips are supposedly good (visceral fat is never good!), don’t go after diets and intensive weight loss programs which can cause harm to your health especially during the growth period of adolescence. Body shape made popular as the beauty trend and one body in good health can contradict with each other at different times. Care for your body for good health above all so that you can prime in every stage in life.  

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Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.

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