Man with "women's" hips

Dear Alice,

I'm a man who has been teased about the shape of his body!! How is it a man in his 20s, who is physically in great shape, has "women's" hips? I asked my doctor and he said a bunch of mumbo jumbo. They are in exact proportion to a woman sized 12 (waist, too). My wife doesn't mind it, but it really bothers me! The only thing you tell that I wasn't a woman is the fact I don't talk that high and also the breast issue (not having them).

Dear Reader,  

Each person has a unique body shape, but societal expectations can place ideas about what shapes are expected for particular types of people. That may mean that some people are expected to be larger, some are expected to be smaller, or in your instance, the shape of your hips doesn't mean the expectations that society has come to expect for someone of your gender. That being said, your bone structure and proportion are determined primarily by genetics; the shape of your hips depends on the hereditary influence of your parents' physical characteristics. Total body shape also is affected by nutritional intake and the amount of physical activity. While we may have more control over what foods we eat or how physically active we are, we don't have control over our genetic predispositions.

Body image is how our physical appearance influences our social perceptions of ourselves and others. Satisfaction with how we look actively affects our behaviors, self-esteem, and how we think and feel overall about ourselves. Body image is influenced by many factors, one of which is popular media. Are there any men with body types similar to yours that you can look at as positive representations? By finding others with bodies similar to yours, you can find someone that you relate to and hopefully, this will help you feel more comfortable about the body that you're in.

Another factor that plays into body image is how we're socialized, that is, what messages we receive from friends, family, and others about what is considered normal, attractive, or ideal. If you had never been teased, how would you feel about your body? Instead of looking at yourself critically from someone else's perspective, can you challenge yourself to look at your body in a different way? Are there parts of your body that you really like? Can you use and move your body in ways you enjoy? What about thinking about your body the way your wife does—think about her attraction to you and what she likes about you as you are.

How we feel about our bodies also depends upon what environment we're living in. You mention being physically fit, and one physiological advantage to having wider hips is having greater availability of space for muscle development, potentially increasing strength. If you focus on the advantages that come along with what you have, it may cause you to view yourself in a new light. If that doesn't seem to work, perhaps working with a professional may make a difference in the way you view and feel about your body. You may choose to make an appointment with a registered dietitian or a health care provider to talk about your fitness and diet. You may also be interested in discussing your feelings about body image with a mental health professional. No matter which route(s) you choose, it’s never a bad idea to start building a better bond between you and your bod!

Last updated Feb 03, 2023
Originally published Jun 18, 2004