All bodies come in different shapes and sizes. But those designated female at birth tend to store fat more easily, and in different regions of the body, such as the hips, buttocks and thighs, than do people designated male at birth.
This ability to store additional fat is beneficial in times of fertility, pregnancy and lactation. As a result, female bodies tend to appear curvier and more voluptuous – which is something many transgender women worry about during their physical transformation.
Though it’s possible to achieve a feminine form through a variety of surgical and lifestyle choices, it’s important to form realistic expectations based on your physical form.
Prior to puberty, males and females generally possess a similar waist-to-hip ratio and overall body shape. However, as both sexes enter into adulthood, they experience rapid hormonal changes, which in turn affect their body shape and size.
It has long been assumed that one hormone in particular – estrogen – was largely responsible for the difference in fat distribution between females and males. However, only recently has research appeared to support this theory.
While every body produces estrogen, levels tend to be significantly higher in females, especially during the reproductive years. As a result, females develop breasts and are more prone to store subcutaneous fat around the hips and thighs, giving them a more “hourglass” shape. And because males tend to produce far less estrogen than females, they are more prone to store visceral fat around the vital organs – known as “belly” fat.
Most females begin to enter menopause in their late 40s to early 50s. The hormonal changes associated with menopause are different for each person, but generally menopause is associated with a significant drop in estrogen production. As a result, older females often experience a shift in fat distribution towards their waist – similar to males.
Many females witness waist expansion without seeing a significant difference in body weight. This is due both to a natural loss of muscle mass, but also because fat around the legs and arms begins to decline as abdominal fat increases.
No two bodies are the same but researchers have categorized female bodies into 4 shapes.
Women like Jennifer Lopez or Beyoncé, who possess a hip measurement that is greater than their bust, are considered pear-shaped. While fat distribution varies, pear-shaped females are more likely to gain weight in the hips, buttocks and thighs than in the upper body. According to research, approximately 20% of females fall into this category.
Those like Cameron Diaz who possess a very even distribution of fat among their waist, buttocks, chest and face have a banana or rectangular shape. Banana shapes are the most common body type, encompassing roughly 46% of females.
Apple-shaped women like Adele have shoulders that are comparably broader than their hips. They often possess larger busts, a less defined waist and thin hips and thighs. Fat is mainly distributed in the face, chest and abdomen. About 14% of females fall into this body type category.
An hourglass shape describes a body type with fat that is distributed equally between the upper and lower body, paired with a very narrow waist.
Though this classic hourglass shape is often admired and revered in classic Hollywood actresses like Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren, recent research suggests that as little as 8% of females fit this category.