If this is true, then I’m possibly the smartest person in the world

Calling all small-waisted wide-hipped big-booty chicks: Ya’ll are smarter than the skinny bitches (and childbirth will definitely be less painful. Double score!):

Researchers studied 16,000 women and girls and found the more voluptuous performed better on cognitive tests – as did their children.

The bigger the difference between a woman’s waist and hips the better.

Other experts are skeptical because, well, it’s quite possibly a bullshit study:

“On the fatty deposits being related to intelligence front, it’s very hard to detangle that from other factors, such as social class, for instance, or diet,” said Martin Tovee of Newcastle University.

“And much as we logically like the idea that men are interested in the waist to hip ratio, it actually features relatively low down the list of feature males look for in a potential partner.”

And the “evidence” provided by the BBC reporter?

The findings appear to be borne out in the educational attainments of at least one of the UK’s most famous curvaceous women, Nigella Lawson, who graduated from Oxford.

Clearly, Natalie Portman cheated her way into Harvard.

Don’t you just love studies that pit women against each other in our eternal search for mates? Nothing warms my little feminist heart like an article that says something vaguely good about “curvy” women, but feels the need to bash thin women in the process.

Thanks to Fauzia for the link.


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23 comments for “If this is true, then I’m possibly the smartest person in the world

  1. Tara
    November 13, 2007 at 10:36 am

    I bet it’s because *not* dieting is good for your brain, and that women of all body types are smarter and have more freedom to use their brains if they enjoyed good nutrition throughout their youth, childhood, and adulthood, regardless of exactly how that good nutrition looks on their bodies…

  2. galnoir
    November 13, 2007 at 10:52 am

    I’m fat. I also have a thick waist and (proportionally) narrow hips. Not only does this mean I’m an “apple” at higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, apparently it also means I’m dimmer than my hippier sisters. Apparently I’ve been faking my way into the master’s degree that I’ll get next month. Who knew?

  3. kali
    November 13, 2007 at 10:58 am

    God, I can’t even read the phrase waist-to-hip ratio without rolling my eyes. But I kind of hope there’s at least something to this– wouldn’t it mean that black women are smarter? And so are their children? I just want all the evo-psych type’s heads to explode while they try and assimilate that. Even though I know it won’t happen; they’re much too good at ignoring evidence that contradicts their world view. Even seeing the contradictory evidence it all packaged in a deterministic, over-simplistic study with the words “waist to hip ratio” and the premise that everything women do is about attracting men is not going to be enough to induce a second’s cognitive dissonance in them.

    (You won’t be surprised to learn that the evo-psych thing about optimal waist to hip ratios is as BS as every other one of their cherished urban-myths-disguised-as-science. There’s a brilliant paper on the origin of this particular myth here. Suffice it to say that it originates from some eejit somewhere who couldn’t read properly.

  4. SKM
    November 13, 2007 at 11:18 am

    There is even more cringeworthy coverage of this study at, you guessed it, Psychology Today. The language is horrifying:

    Setting aside language, though, two things trouble me: first, low waist-hip ratio seems to me to be a poor proxy for fat on the hips, since women’s frames vary so much. My waist-hip ratio is just under .65, yet I am technically underweight and have a slightly below normal body fat percentage (.7 is considered low I think in waist-hip ratio studies; I don’t know about this particular study). Some of us just have wide pelvic girdles relative to our waists.

    Second, brains need a lot of fatty acids, and it stands to reason that stored fat would build healthier babies when dietary fatty acids are scarce. But we have access to more than enough omega-3s. The coverage of this study claims that “the body prefers its own stores” of omega-3s over dietary sources, but I do not know how the researchers could have determined this empirically and ethically in humans (I have not read the study). It would interest me more to see a comparison of the diets of the two groups of pregnant women; perhaps the hippier women ingested more omega-3s due to a broader diet generally?

    This is more “stuck-on-the-savannah” thinking. Any fat-storage advantages of our early ancestors would be blown away by modern nutrition. And, if fatty hips are such an evolutionary advantage, why are there so many of us skinny dames left?

    (the same goes for the old big-round-boobs-are-a-reproductive-advantage-so-that’s-how-they-evolved bit. Why are breasts of every shape and size still so common if only one shape and size was selected for back in the Pleistocene?)

    *sights deeply*

  5. SKM
    November 13, 2007 at 11:20 am

    sorry, I was so irritated I forgot to close my link! ;)

  6. Betsy
    November 13, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Man, am I tired of being told that because I have (comparatively) narrow hips that I am less attractive to men, less likely to reproduce, more likely to have a heart attack, and now, to top it all off, I’m dumber too! Won’t my PhD program be surprised to learn that! (At least, I hope they’ll be surprised. Maybe they all *do* think I’m dumb already. *sobs*)

    Ahem. Please excuse the random grad school-induced emotional instability. It’s a hazard of PhD programs that they don’t tell you about when you sign up.

  7. November 13, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    The BBC, for some reason, loves stories like this.

    Here was my favourite (or least favourite, actually).

  8. November 13, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    I credit my waist-to-hip ratio not with my LSAT score, but with my inability to wear pants that fit my thighs without a belt.

  9. Jane
    November 13, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Regarding Tara, point 1: Some people are quite skinny without dieting, even as some people are curvaceous or fat regardless of their diet.

    But then again, I’m a skinny woman with a poorly-defined waist and narrow hips. What do I know? Maybe I should just give up on that ‘going-back-to-school’ plan. Thanks, BBC.

  10. November 13, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Clearly, Natalie Portman cheated her way into Harvard.
    And through it, if this music video is to be believed.

  11. Lizard
    November 13, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Nigella Lawson? Seriously? I guess a TV star who happens to have graduated from college was the only highly educated British woman this reporter could come up with.

    In other news, I understand Jessica Rabbit has recently been awarded a Fulbright.

  12. Betsy
    November 13, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Lizard:
    She was the only highly educated British woman *with a hot ass* that this reporter could come up with. I suspect that was the sticking point. /snark.

  13. November 13, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I applaud Jill’s new title, but my hs algebra II teacher wins hands down. She had a great waist-to-hip ratio that would crush Jill’s. ;-) Which of course explains why I ended up with a C average in her class…she was just too smart for me. Seriously thou, my hips were my secret weapon in football game. Look up hip check and those are my hips!

    haha….

  14. exholt
    November 13, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    This is one reason why I don’t take science reporting seriously when it is in the MSM. I’d much rather read the actual studies and chat with those who work in the field to minimize potential oversimplification and outright distortions.

    Clearly, Natalie Portman cheated her way into Harvard.
    And through it, if this music video is to be believed.

    I think the legacies at Harvard have Natalie Portman are way ahead of her on that score if what a few friends who worked in Ivy undergrad admissions said about them is true.

  15. exholt
    November 13, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    oops,

    Meant to say “I think the legacies at Harvard are way ahead of Natalie Portman on that score if what a few former undergrad Ivy admissions staff friends said about them is true.”

  16. curiousgyrl
    November 13, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    wouldn’t it mean that black women are smarter

    No, since black women’s waist to him ratios aren’t different than anyone else’s.

  17. Roxie
    November 13, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Well, it’s like Shakira says…the hips don’t lie!

    (I can’t believe no one got there yet)…

  18. Caja
    November 13, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    It’s because women actually think with our pelvic organs, see, and if the waist-hip ratio is wrong, those organs get all squeezed and you can’t think as good. See? There I go, with my (scrawny) narrow hips! Being ungrammary.

  19. Anatolia
    November 13, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Last time I checked, women were of the same species as men. If higher intelligence is relayed through larger waist-to-hip ratios as some evolutionary trait, then, yeah. Got it.

  20. Anatolia
    November 13, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Heh. Piqued my curiousity.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2006/may/bats/

    What does it all mean?

  21. Tara
    November 13, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    Jane – please reread my comment without a chip on your shoulder:

    I bet it’s because *not* dieting is good for your brain, and that women of all body types are smarter and have more freedom to use their brains if they enjoyed good nutrition throughout their youth, childhood, and adulthood, regardless of exactly how that good nutrition looks on their bodies…

  22. November 13, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    As a straight woman, I’ve known for years that there are pretty much only two women I would ever sleep with, kd lang and the other one, whom I can’t recall. Then I moved to Britain and eventually saw Nigella Lawson. Internets, that woman is seriously hot.

    And that concludes my random, pretty much has nothing to do with the post post of the day.

    Oh darn, now I’ve reread the post and have something to contribute, namely, wouldn’t a higher ratio of waist hip mean better fat loads regardless of weight and hence, better nutrition in lean times for babies in utero?

  23. April 12, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Has Tovee read the study? Have any of you? I have — I have the journal right here, and I heard Gaulin present the work at the 2007 Human Behavior And Evolutionion Society Conference at William and Mary — and Gaulin and Lassek were quite meticulous, and their work is well-supported.

    You can read it here — I mean, unless you’d rather just pontificate on stuff you know nothing about:

    http://tinyurl.com/659v94

    Furthermore, this comment from the BBC piece — “The bigger the difference between a woman’s waist and hips the better” — is sloppy and untrue.

    And like it or not, men, across cultures, prefer women with hourglass figures who are not obese or terribly skinny. Dev Singh from UT did the original work on this, and others are challenging the fact that he used drawings, and 2D to boot — as is the requirement of science, as a search for truth. Still, WHR (Waist-to-hip ratio), as a measure of attractiveness in women holds up.

    I’m too tired to post more about this now, and I suspect my comment will be deleted anyway.

    This comments section is like Lord of the Flies for angry women.

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