Why you should care
Ladies, the width of your hips may play a crucial role in your decision to sleep with someone.
Shakira was seriously on point — hips really don’t lie. Even when it comes to a woman’s sexual history.
That’s according to scientists at the University of Leeds, who report that a woman’s figure could play a crucial role in her decision to have sex. Specifically, women with wider hips are more likely to hit it and quit it, and to have more sexual partners in general. Less-hippy women, on the other hand, tend to take a more prudent approach to sex.
Women with hips wider than 14.2 inches had more sexual partners and one-night stands than those with hips narrower than 12.2 inches.
“Women’s hip width has a direct impact on their risk of potentially fatal childbirth-related injury,” said Colin Hendrie, an associate professor of human and animal ethology at the University of Leeds who led the study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. “Women’s sexual activity is therefore at least in part influenced by hip width.” It’s a controversial conclusion.
Hendrie and his colleagues recruited 148 women between 18 and 26 years old from around the University of Leeds who’d had sex at least once in their lives. They measured their hip width — the distance between the upper edges of the iliac crest bones of the pelvis — as well as their hip circumference at the widest point, plus their waist circumference at its narrowest point. The women also filled out questionnaires about their sexual histories, including how old they were when they lost their virginity and how many sexual partners they’d had in their lifetimes. Some questions asked about emotionally significant sexual relationships, like “Were you in love with this partner?”
Women with hips wider than 14.2 inches (36 centimeters) had more sexual partners and one-night stands than those with hips narrower than 12.2 inches (31 centimeters). And women who tooted and booted it in 75 percent of their sexual relationships had hips nearly an inch (2 centimeters) wider than those who had fewer one-and-done encounters. Their less-curvy counterparts “really only had sex with people in the context of relationships, demonstrating a more cautious sexual strategy,” Hendrie said.
And possibly for good evolutionary reason. Some anthropologists theorize that as humans learned to stand upright, they developed smaller hips to make walking easier, while female hips became just wide enough for childbirth. Narrow-hipped mothers-to-be run a higher risk of gynecological injury and death.
Still, the study has weaknesses. The researchers studied women only from Leeds and its environs; findings may not apply to other populations and cultures. Some anthropologists also point out that the hip measurements taken don’t accurately indicate the size of the birth canal or internal opening of the pelvis and that, besides, childbirth-related injuries might not even be that risky. Although it’s often thought that cephalopelvic disproportion — when a baby is too big to pass through the pelvis — is a major cause of cesarean sections, it actually occurs in only about one in 250 pregnancies, according to the American College of Nurse Midwives.
Yet the study is suggestive. Earlier research has shown that a woman’s waist-to-hip ratio correlates with her attractiveness — playing a major role in influencing the number and quality of men available to her for sex. But hip width may factor more into her decision to actually sleep with them. “This study is not reflecting what men find attractive,” Hendrie said. “It’s about women being in charge of their own destinies, where they can control their own sexual behavior.”
Ladies: Your hips might sway even more than you realize.