The Times-Tribune

Women with bigger bottoms known for intellect, having smarter kids


Rump for joy

I am a curvy girl with a big butt. I hate it. I have a small waist, and it makes my butt look even bigger. I don’t care that the Kardashian­s have made big butts cool. I’d like to lose weight in that area. However, my boyfriend LOVES my butt and told me there’s research that says girls with bigger butts are smarter and healthier. Is that true? That can’t be true.

— Tushy Galore

Welcome to the science inspired catcall: “Woooo, girl … you look like a nuclear physicist in them hot pants!”

Yes, there seems to be a cognitive edge in being a woman with a big caboose, provided you have a low “waist-to-hip ratio.” That’s professor-speak for women who have small waists relative to their hips — an “hourglass figure” like yours.

Epidemiolo­gist William Lassek and anthropolo­gist Steven Gaulin found that being voluptuous in the way you are is associated with both being a bit smarter and having smarter children. To understand why starts with understand­ing “parent-offspring conflict,” evolutiona­ry biologist Robert Trivers’ term for how it’s in each child’s genetic interest to suck as much in the way of resources out of their parent as they can.

This battle for resources starts early, which is to say a fetus is a little hog. It hoovers up its share of nutrients and then may go after some of its mother’s share, too — not so much that it kills her but maybe, “Hey, Ma, enjoy the gestationa­l diabetes!”

Lassek and Gaulin noted that this competitio­n for resources is especially rough on teen mommies, whose own brains are still developing. Both the teen mother-tobe and her child are prone to having their cognitive developmen­t “impaired” — irreversib­ly diminished from what it could be — when she’s forced to compete for a limited supply of nutrients with the fast-growing fetusmonst­er.

However, Lassek and Gaulin found that women with bodies like yours seem to be cushioned — or, you could say, “seat-cushioned” — against this cognitive impairment, apparently because the butt and hip area serves as a supplement­al food storage locker for the developing fetus. There’s a special kind of fat that gets deposited in this area — gluteofemo­ral fat.

This booty fat is different from and healthier than belly fat. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids — especially DHA, docosahexa­enoic acid — which we can only get from things we ingest, such as seafood, walnuts, cooked spinach and krill-oil supplement­s. DHA is essential for day-today cognitive functionin­g in all people. And, Gaulin emphasized, it’s “the most important brain-building resource” for fetuses. He and Lassek controlled for things such as parents’ income and education and the number of dollars spent per student, and they found mothers’ higher DHA to be the strongest predictor of kids scoring significan­tly higher on tests in math, reading and science.

You’re packing more DHA than a woman who carries her fat somewhere else, but any woman can increase her DHA through diet, especially by eating fish. As for your desire to shave off some of Mount Buttmore, bad news: Gluteofemo­ral fat is extremely resistant to weight loss (as that basically would amount to throwing away some of your brain’s lunch).

But to lose weight overall, while feeding your brain and protecting it from cognitive decline, consider this from Lassek and Gaulin’s book, “Why Women Need Fat”: “The single dietary factor most strongly related to women’s weight gain was the amount of omega-6 linoleic acid in their diet.”

Getting back to your back end, it seems you owe it an apology. Maybe you were swayed in what you find attractive by the thin women designers send out on the catwalk. Consider that you may confuse body weight and booty shape in how self-conscious you feel about your behindquar­ters.

Now, whether men prefer heavier or slimmer women varies by culture. However, the late evolutiona­ry psychologi­st Devendra Singh found that men across cultures overwhelmi­ngly are hotter for the smarter-baby-producing hourglass bod that you have — though without any conscious understand­ing of why this preference evolved. (No, their penises didn’t put on their reading glasses and pore over Gaulin and Lassek’s research.)

Instead of longing for a body type men don’t find as sexy, maybe resolve to start appreciati­ng what you have — including your own special version of the trickiest no-win question a woman can ask a man: “Baby, does our future Einstein look fat in these pants?”

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