Knowing our exact body type can help us learn how to dress, eat, exercise, etc., but narrowing it down to five broad categories may not be helpful for everyone, especially if you feel like you do not fit the common female body types.
Generally, the female body can fall into five categories: inverted triangle, hourglass, pear, round, and rectangle, but there are more types to be more inclusive. The definition of the ideal body type can vary on the culture and era. We generally see the hourglass body type as the most popular female body shape across many periods and ethnicities.
The Female Body Types
Historically, descriptions of women’s bodies get described in categories of shapes (Simmons et al., 2004). Generally, there are five female body types: hourglass, inverted triangle, rectangle, round, and pear.
However, we will talk about ten shapes in this article to understand your body type, especially if you feel like you do not fit perfectly into the five main types.
Rectangle body shapes usually have a waist that is roughly the same size as the hips and bust. The hips and shoulders will be almost the same width.
An example of a celebrity with a rectangle body shape is Cameron Diaz
An hourglass figure features a small waist, and the bust and hips are almost equal in size. Typically, the waist will be 30% smaller than the hips and bust. For instance, the waist should be twelve inches smaller than your hips and bust.
The upper body and legs will likely be proportionate. Hourglass types often have slightly rounded shoulders and rounded buttocks.
A classic example of an hourglass body type is Marilyn Monroe (though some argue that her body was pear-shaped). Other examples of hourglass body types include Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, and Salma Hayek.
Pear or Triangle
Pear shapes usually get defined by their rounded hips, slightly defined waist, and slim shoulders. The bust is typically narrow compared to the hips.
The waist often slopes to the hips, as we see in celebrities like Jennifer Lopez.
The opposite of the pear shape is the inverted triangle; it features a large bust size, broad shoulders, and somewhat narrow hips. The waist also tends to be narrow, but it may not have a lot of definition compared to a pear or hourglass shape.
Some good examples of inverted triangles are Naomi Campbell and Angelina Jolie.
Women who have a bust size larger than the rest of the body, full midsections, and narrow hips have round body shapes. They usually have an undefined waist and slim legs.
However, the midsection does not always have to be full. It can be flat, like Elizabeth Hurley or Tyra Banks. Another celebrity with a round body shape is Oprah Winfrey, who has a fuller midsection.
The top hourglass is similar to the regular hourglass shape, but the bust tends to be larger than the hips.
For example, a woman with a 39-inch bust, 24-inch waist, and 36-inch waist can be a top hourglass shape. The shoulders may not be broad enough to be an inverted triangle; they may slightly round out like a traditional hourglass.
Some examples of celebrities that have top hourglass-like figures are Dolly Parton and Charlotte McKinney.
Opposite the top hourglass is the bottom hourglass. This body shape is like a traditional hourglass, but the hips are larger than the bust. For instance, a 36-inch bust, 24-inch waist, and 39-inch hips can be a bottom hourglass shape.
Arguably, Kim Kardashian could be considered a bottom hourglass since her lower body seems fuller than her upper body. However, others argue that she has a pear shape body type, but her bust is relatively full.
Spoon shaped women have a lot of similarities with pear-shaped women; they have curvy hips and slim shoulders. However, spoon-shaped women tend to have a larger tummy and more defined waists than pear shapes.
An example of a spoon-shaped body type would be Beyonce.
Women with athletic body types often have naturally muscular builds and are not particularly curvy. The hip and shoulder measurements are roughly the same.
The waist tends to be narrow compared to the hips and shoulders, but athletic body types do not have defined waists. The body tends to be fairly straight up and down but not quite a rectangle.
Celebrities with a rectangular body shape include Chloe Moretz and Jennifer Garner.
The diamond body shape features a narrow bust, broad hips, and a full waistline. Typically, people with this body shape carry more weight in their upper legs and have slender arms.
An example of a diamond body shape is Kate Winslet.
Female Body Types and Beauty Throughout the Ages
The ideal female body type per era varied based on culture. What Westerners found attractive in the 50s was probably not the same as what East Asians found attractive in the same period. For instance, the ideal female body of ancient Greece was full-bodied and plump with light skin. Ancient Egypt’s ideal female body had a high waist, narrow shoulders, and a slender frame.
However, a recurring theme throughout certain eras is that plump women (typically with an hourglass or pear-shaped body) were popular. For instance, plump and full-figured women were very desirable in Victorian England and the Italian Renaissance.
The ideal female body shape tends to fluctuate from the 1920s to today. For instance, the 1920s or the roaring twenties preferred women with boyish figures, downplayed waists, and flat chests.
Women with curves and large chests were desirable during the 1930s-1950s, like Grace Kelly and Cyd Charisse.
People in the 1960s thought thin, willowy women with long legs and an adolescent physique was the standard for ideal beauty.
The 1970s showed a sudden shift by preferring women with athletic yet curvy body types.
People in the 1990s to early 2000s thought skinny and waifish women had the ideal female body type.
Currently, the most popular body type tends to be hourglass women with flat stomachs.
Body type preferences could be a signal of fertility and health (broad shoulders for strength in men, wide hips for childbirth in women, etc.). However, preferences could come from culture, particularly from media. Therefore, evolution and genes might not play a huge role in the ideal female body type.
As mentioned earlier, certain celebrities like Marilyn Monroe were the ideal body type of their time. A stark contrast to that would be Paris Hilton, the “it” girl for most of the early 2000s. Marilyn Monroe had a curvy, pear-shaped figure, whereas Paris Hilton sported a very slim body. At the time, many women aspired to have their bodies. The body type that women want shifts often.
Hourglass Body Type: Loved Among Most Cultures
Singh et al., 2016 notes that a low waist-to-hip ratio is attractive in various cultures. The study found that women’s perceived attractiveness for body type focuses on body fat distribution (ideally the hourglass) in 20 culture/ethnic groups.
The study argues that the idea that beauty is “ever-changing” is a myth; the human mind has a natural attraction to the hourglass figure because it could indicate a woman’s health, fertility, and youth.
The study said that 0.7 was the ideal waist-to-hip ratio; the waist should be about 30% smaller than the hips. However, the overall ratio can vary based on weight and height. For instance, a short woman with measurements of 36-27-39 has an hourglass body type. However, a tall woman with measurements of 34-35-36 also has an hourglass body type.
A woman who has a bust and hip size that is roughly the same with a waist that is 30% smaller than her hips/bust has an hourglass body type. So, the preference of body type can change throughout the decades. However, the hourglass tends to be the most popular body type for both men and women.
What Is The Current Ideal Female Body Type?
The hourglass body is very popular in our current society, with pear-shaped body types following a close second. We see beautiful women of all shapes in the media, but an hourglass figure tends to be a favorite for most people.
The ideal hourglass look does not always have to be the “standard” one you would imagine. Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson are classic examples of the typical fuller hourglass figure.
In contrast, model Alexis Ren sports a very slim and fit figure with a small waist. Her measurements are about: 35-inch bust, 23-inch waist, and 35-inch hip.
Her waist is around twelve inches smaller than her bust and hips, making her an hourglass shape. However, she is much slimmer than Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara, but she is also a desirable woman because of her measurements.
Therefore, we can conclude that having an hourglass body type is still very popular today. Since the pear body type has similar features to an hourglass, it is also a desirable figure.
Crossley et al., 2012 looked at men’s and women’s ideal body types for body genders. The study asked 80 Caucasian men and women to participate.
The study also found that women preferred exaggerated features compared to men’s ideal female body type. For instance, the female participants preferred larger bust sizes than the males did.
The illustration on the left shows the breast size that the female participants wanted. The illustration on the right shows the average woman based on the body mass index (BMI) scale.
The researchers felt surprised about this preference. However, they believe that the female participants wanted to exaggerate certain features, like the bust size, because they felt important. This is similar to how men overestimate the muscularity needed to be attractive to women, presumably because they’re competing with each other.
The male participants preferred women with a waist to chest ratio of .67, a waist to hip ratio of .70, and a BMI of 18.82. An example of what this would look like is the woman on the left.
The male and female participants also preferred slimmer female bodies compared to the female participants’ current bodies.
Does It Matter What Body Type I Have?
Everyone can make the most out of their body type. Hourglass is usually the ideal body type, but you can enhance any body type if you choose to do so.
Some ways you can tweak your body type include:
Clothes are a fun and efficient way to flatter your body shape. Some women can wear clothes to make them look more hourglass-shaped. Many women also wear clothes that can further flatter their current body shape.
For instance, you can wear a dress with a belt on your waist to make your waist look more defined if you have a rectangle body shape.
You can wear flowy dresses if you have a round body type. A flowy dress can flatter your upper body while hiding your tummy.
If you have an hourglass body and want to show off your curves, you can opt for a form-fitting dress. You can also do the same if you have a pear-shaped body.
Exercising can help you build muscles and lose fat to enhance your current body shape or look like another body shape. For instance, let’s say that you have a rectangle body type, but you want to look curvier. You can focus on hip and buttocks workouts to grow your glutes and try to build your shoulders and arms to create an illusion of a smaller waist.
If you already have a pear shape body and want to emphasize your current body shape, you can focus on legs and buttocks workouts. You can also try to balance your pear shape body by doing more upper body exercises to make your shoulders and arms bigger.
However, it is very important not to have unreasonable expectations. For instance, if you have a rectangular body shape, it would be nearly impossible to have Sofia Vergara’s body. If you have a full hourglass figure like Scarlett Johansson, you might find it very difficult to look like Emily Ratajkowski, who has a fairly straight and slim body type. You can exercise to enhance your body shape. However, it would be very hard or nearly impossible to use exercise to change your body shape, especially if it is the opposite of your current body shape.
It is possible to get procedures to tweak their body to look more like a different body type. For instance, you can get implants if you want to make your pear-shaped body look like an hourglass shape. However, you can also get a procedure to exaggerate your body type further. For instance, you can get a fat transfer or implants if you want larger buttocks to accentuate your pear-shaped body.