Male with female hips
February 17, 2008 10:27 PM   Subscribe

Male in early twenties with what can only be described as female hips. What's going on, and what does it matter?

My earliest memories of worrying about the wideness of my hips are from the summer before senior year of high school, when I was 17, nearing 18. I have a photograph of myself at that time in which they're quite noticeable, and they've gotten wider since then. I've gained in weight, too, I should say -- I was below-average for my height the summer before senior year, and I'm now probably above-average, or at least above what's desirable, though I'm a fair distance from fat.

I've avoided talking to a medical professional about this because I don't want them to confirm to me that it's a problem -- I'm worried about how it's impacting my (lack of) relationships with girls (see below), and I don't want to have to acknowledge that I might have a crippling and permanent disability in that area. My parents at first denied to me that there was anything abnormal about my hips (my mom said to me, "What's weird about them? They look just like mine," which was pretty frustrating); now my dad says that although they're wide, they're within the range of normal (they clearly aren't), and my mom will only say that because there's nothing I can do, I shouldn't worry about it. I've only asked friends about my hips once. They at first acted as though they didn't know what I was talking about and then one said "I wouldn't worry about it" and it was left at that, but of course you can't really trust friends for an honest assessment of your physical characteristics.

The only possible explanation I can think of is that I was vegan for two and a half years (from just before my 16th birthday to when I was around 18 and a half), and the estrogen in soy was the culprit. (I ate a shitload of soy when I was vegan.) Before and after my vegan period my diet was/has been omnivorous -- meat, dairy, the whole deal.

As I suggested above, my biggest worry about my hips is that they're impacting my ability to have "romantico-sexual" relationships with girls. If I had other female sexual characteristics, like breasts, I'd certainly be pretty undesirable, and I can't see why having "child-bearing hips" should be any different. But it's really hard to assess what's causing one's lack of success, especially as I think that my desirability, independent of my hips, has declined significantly from the time I had my only relationships. (I had a brief relationship the summer before senior year (the time from which my first memories of womanly hips date), and two brief relationships before then, but nothing at all since then (about four years).) I won't bore you with the reasons why I think this has happened. Obviously I do my best to dress in such a way as to minimize my hips, but this is only possible to an extent, and I don't think anybody is going to be fooled.

So to sum up, what I want to know, as I wrote in the top part of the post, is: What's going on, and what does it matter? Do you know people in my situation? How did it affect their lives? How did they cope?

Thanks so much, everyone, for any comments or suggestions you can give about any of this. Dummy e-mail:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (31 answers total)
I have pretty "womanly" hips for a guy and once I stopped caring about it, any possible negative effect disappeared.
posted by jtron at 10:47 PM on February 17, 2008

I've always had very wide/bony hips, for a guy. The only person I ever remember commenting on it was my most recent ex, and that was in a "huh, that's interesting" sense rather than the "oh, that makes you poor boyfriend material" sense. Turned out we weren't a good match, but my hips didn't have anything to do with it. You shouldn't worry so much.
posted by Alterscape at 10:55 PM on February 17, 2008

I doubt it's your hips that are affecting your chances with women. Your obsessing over them? Maybe. Exercise more, and stop worrying... you'll find the problem will go away on its own.
posted by wsp at 10:58 PM on February 17, 2008

If you feel it's worth the effort, work on your shoulder muscles. Building up the deltoids would go a ways towards balancing your silhouette.

Other than that, relax! However you arrived at your bone structure, whether it was through soy milk or radioactive spider bites or simple bad luck genetics, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it - so why worry about what you can't change?

And as to romance: women might dig or might not dig a guy with wide hips, and you can't control that. But women will almost certainly dig a guy who's relaxed and confident; that's something you can work on, starting with the acceptance of your pelvis.
posted by Iridic at 11:05 PM on February 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

You don't have a crippling and disability unless you are (a) crippled and (b) disabled. Can you walk? Run? Stand up and sit down? Perform a standard jumping jack? If so, you're fine.

But if you really want to sort this out, go get a tape measure. Measure yourself around the upper thigh (where short-shorts would end), around your pelvis just below the bones, around your waist above the pelvis, around your ribs just below your armpits, and around your arms and shoulders at the widest part of your shoulders. Measure your arms from armpit to wrist, fully extended; your legs, from crotch to heel. Record these measurements, along with your overall height and weight.

Find a moderately upmarket menswear store, the sort that does do alterations, but not so upmarket that they don't go to any trouble. Give them these measurements, along with the following information: "I'm having a bit of difficulty finding clothes to fit me, and I was wondering if you might be able to help me sort out my sizes. I'd like to get a decent shirt and pair of trousers, but I'd also like to know exactly what size I am, so that when I come back next time, I know what sizes to get. Also, if you can recommend any clothes that will look particularly good on me, please do."

(I'm assuming here that it's worth a few bucks to you to set your mind at rest, and at some point in the near future you will need clothing anyway, for some reason.)

Now, one of two things will happen. The overwhelmingly likely response is, "For shirts you are a size n and we recommend you choose a foo style shirt. For trousers you should get a x inch waist and a y inch trouser, and we recommend bar style as it will hang well on you."

There's a small possibility of "we're too busy or otherwise can't be bothered with you, pleb", in which case, go elsewhere. What you're asking is entirely reasonable. Perhaps choose a slightly cheaper store with more eager-looking staff.

There's a tiny possibility of "These measurements are extremely unusual, sir. The nearest we can do is ..." in which case, try that out, and ask if they can arrange alterations.

Believe me, nothing will allay your worries about your appearance more than a nice new set of clothes. (Maybe a haircut and a beard trim too.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:20 PM on February 17, 2008

I dropped about 75-80 pounds between the ages of 17 and 18, from 235 to around 160. A few years later a seamstress friend tried to help me make some garb for an SCA-like group we participated in.

Being something of a bumbling idiot when it comes to sewing and crafts in general, she helped me start with what she said would be the easiest- the pants. She gave me the pattern, cloth, scissors, and instructions (this was our arrangement- she wouldn't make them for me, but she'd show me how to do it).

So I cut the pants out of the pattern, which was a laborious and frustrating process punctuated by a great deal of cursing and "well how in the hell do you" and such. But finally, after some time, I had what appeared to be a serviceable pair of brown pants, which would turn nor heads nor win awards but would probably have been just period-ish enough to get by.

I turned them inside-out and attempted to step into them...only to be met with dismal failure past mid-thigh. She'd made sure to measure me out around the waist before all the laborious cutting and sewing, but the pants simply did not fit.

With expert skill and infinite patience, my friend examined the fit (such as it was), took in the proportions, and finally threw her hands up in exasperation, and exclaimed:


That's the first and only time it's ever been a problem for me. I've never had mechanical issues such as you've expressed concern for, and I've been successful in love as I'm happily married. So my advice to you, sir, is: think long and hard if you ever think about sewing yourself some pants, and if you do make sure to accommodate accordingly, but other than that live your life and don't worry about your damn hips so much.
posted by baphomet at 11:34 PM on February 17, 2008 [4 favorites]

It's possible that you are seeing something that others don't. It's also possible that ingesting so much soy has messed with your system. It certainly wouldn't hurt to get a referral to an endocrinologist to rule out either possibility.
posted by lunaazul at 11:40 PM on February 17, 2008

I have "womanly" hips. The only time it's ever come up is when girlfriends have said how much they liked them - that is, except the ones who were ambivalent. Maybe it balances out since I've got muscular legs. Or, maybe that makes it worse. Maybe I'm missing out on a whole world of angular and/or skinny orgies. Or maybe you're being obsessive. Look in to that. Honestly I think you'll find it's an easier problem to tackle than unraveling a perceived conspiracy among everyone in your life to never tell you the truth about your hips.

As I suggested above, my biggest worry about my hips is that they're impacting my ability to have "romantico-sexual" relationships with girls

Use of the term "romantico-sexual" can't be helping you either.

posted by regicide is good for you at 12:08 AM on February 18, 2008

[This is not a problem]
posted by Rubbstone at 12:18 AM on February 18, 2008

relax, when the right girl comes along, she comes along. Meanwhile maybe you want to see a doctor to exclude the possibility of this.
posted by singingfish at 12:19 AM on February 18, 2008

Have you ever been at a social gathering and seen that guy who has a smoking hot girlfriend and you do a double take because you think that he doesn't look that much different than the average guy? Most women are attracted to a wide spectrum of men and physical appearance is only one piece of the complex equation. Kindness, confidence, humor and many other traits play in it too.

I don't think your vegan stint has unnaturally altered your body. If you were somehow hypersensitive to the estrogen-mimicking chemicals in soy products, you would see more prominent feminine sex characteristics such as breast development or testicle shrinking. Since you don't have those, I'm guessing you are just blessed with a well-defined bone structure and a less-than-average amount of abdominal fat. Those are both good things in my expert female opinion.

OK, you want to believe me but you're not sold yet. Let me share a slightly intimate detail about my boyfriend, who is a fairly slender guy with well-defined hips. It turns out that when a girl has sex with a guy with nice pelvis bones, there's this amazing unanticipated advantage from the rubbing of her clitorial region into his pelvis. Truly, it is stupendous. Especially when she is on top. Discerning women will never go back to hipless boys.

So forget about your hips for now. Find women who are intellectually interesting and who make you laugh and cultivate friendships with them and eventually you'll find someone who clicks so well with you your hips are the last thing on your mind until you're quite intimately engaged and then you'll remember this and you'll make good use of your pelvic blessings.
posted by rhiannon at 12:24 AM on February 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

I have 'female' hips. Aside from having to try on every pair of trousers I buy to make sure they'll get over my thighs, it's not a problem. My wife likes my legs, too. I do watch my weight as that's where it goes, but that's all. I can think of at least three men I know with the same shape, and it's not because we're part of some obscure 'girly hips club'. It's not unusual, and it's not a problem.
posted by dowcrag at 12:25 AM on February 18, 2008

You don't mention having any trouble finding trousers that fit - which would be an indicator of having hips that are 'clearly' outside normal - as you insist they are. This would be a real problem for you, its odd that you don't mention it.

I have a 12" difference between my waist and hips - this is a problem when buying trousers, anything that fits on my hips is baggy on my waist because standard UK dress sizes only have a 10" difference. I don't have huge abnormal hips, they're above average (someone has to be ;) )

If you had huge abnormal hips, you wouldn't be able wear 'off the rack' men's pants. The fact you don't mention having this problem suggests you're probably perfectly normal.

Of course, you clearly have issues and should really consider seeing a therapist. You can't blame some small part of your anatomy for your relationship problems. In the 4 years since your last relationship, how many girls have you actually asked out/approached? I can tell you now, whatever your girl trouble is, it has nothing to do with the size of your hips.

I think my boyfriend is gorgeous, sure he's thinning a bit on top and he has a bit of a belly but I still think he's sexy. If he was constantly obsessing about it, he'd probably be a lot less attractive.
posted by missmagenta at 3:48 AM on February 18, 2008

I dated a guy with womanly hips for a couple of years. I did notice it, but only after we had been together for a few months. And really, it was only a "huh, that's interesting" moment.
posted by kimdog at 4:29 AM on February 18, 2008

have you considered seeing a therapist?

here's the thing: you don't want a doctor to confirm your fears, so you pose your question to a crowd of generally well-intentioned but inexpert laypeople because...because why? not because you're afraid of any diagnosis, but because you are afraid that there is no diagnosis, that there is nothing wrong with you and therefore nothing that can a) be done about it, or b) explained away as some external unfortunate event that struck you down and kept you from being 100% perfect.

you do have a problem, but it's not your hips. it's your anxiety.

i know a man who had 3rd-degree burns over 70% of his body, including his face, and he managed to have a happy marriage, professional success, and an adoring, well-adjusted daughter. trust me, your hips are not what's holding you back.

good luck. it would be tragic for this to be what stands between you and happiness.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:33 AM on February 18, 2008

posted by kalessin at 4:48 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

True story. When I was growing up, my brother and I were known as Lips and Hips respectively. I was a guy then. I've been a gal for a long time. The hips had nothing to do with it.
posted by michswiss at 5:21 AM on February 18, 2008

This is only an issue to you. Disliking how you look in some form or another is common, but really very few people actually notice whatever detail it is you're obsessing over, and even if they do notice it's unlikely that they consider it as anything more than trivial. The people in your life aren't lying to you, and you should take them at their word. If they acted at first like they didn't know what you were talking about, that's because they probably didn't.

From my limited understanding of hormones, I can assure you that being vegan isn't the cause. The body naturally has both sex hormones in it anyway, and short of drastically and intentionally tampering with it you are unlikely to cause any major or lasting effect. Even if you did manage to get a strong enough dose of estrogen to redistribute your body fat and give you wide hip then you'd have seen other secondary sex characteristics as well, and you already said that wasn't the case. By all means go see an endocrinologist if you want to peruse that route of inquiry, but I bet you'll just find out that all systems are normal. More likely this is simply something you are genetically predisposed to and there is nothing to look for as being the culprit, or to blame, or in any way your fault. You're obsessing over this when the truth is that there isn't anything abnormal going on here.

You'd be better off seeing a therapist because it sounds like you have some issues with body image and anxiety. Considering yourself as having a "crippling and permanent disability" is your only real problem here, and seeing yourself as damaged goods is more likely to scare off women than any shape your body might be in. You might also considering going to the gym or getting a personal trainer, just something to reduce your body fat over all and possibly flatten you out a little if this really is a huge issue standing in the way of your happiness, but that's the poorer of the two options and isn't going to do you as much good as just learning to be happy and confident with yourself.
posted by CheshireCat at 5:51 AM on February 18, 2008

You have every right to be nervous about this. Other people have noticed your hips. Not many, but a couple. What kind of people are those? People who obsess over appearance, who are really good at figuring out what bone structure is like beneath flesh and clothes. Also: people who don't have their own self-image issues to worry about. So that's like .3 percent of humans. The other 99.7 percent won't realize the hip thing unless you tell them. Don't tell them. Your problem is solved! You will never be known as "that wicked skinny guy," but you will still be able to get with all manner of ladies, if that's what you're looking for here.

In the meantime: exercise your shoulders, so that you look more broad all over. Don't wear pants that hug your lower legs. Take comfort in the fact that when you have a daughter, she'll probably do all right during childbirth.

Above all, though: STOP TALKING ABOUT THE HIPS. You notice. That's reasonable. You're worried. That's reasonable. NO ONE ELSE NOTICES UNLESS YOU TELL THEM. Remember that most people don't really look below your neck when they're talking to you. You're in the clear. Act as though the hips don't matter, and they won't matter.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:12 AM on February 18, 2008

after reading rhiannon's post, I might consider specifically looking for a guy with hips. you know, if I wasn't already engaged.

to the OP: yeah, nobody gives a shit but you. I have a condition that's much, much more noticeable and unusual than wide hips, and while I'm sure some people are not attracted to me because of it, plenty don't care, and that's because I don't give it much thought.
posted by desjardins at 6:21 AM on February 18, 2008

I wish that you could post a picture without your face in view (to preserve your anonymity) so that we could see the situation. Because I would bet that, to us, your hips would appear fine. You're obsessing.

I suppose, if you were really bothered by this to the point where you couldn't function, you could have liposuction performed on your hips. But here's the thing: you would probably find something else to obsess over. I think this tendency to obsess is more the culprit than your hips.

Try talking to a professional, like a therapist. If you don't agree that you are obsessing, well, then, you will still have the opinion of someone completely objective over whether your hips are a problem.
posted by misha at 6:47 AM on February 18, 2008

Hey, I think you should trust your friends. I've got a big nose, my friends have told me even when I wasn't asking. It's not a big deal though, I've never felt like I had been missing out on opportunities because of it. In fact I'm mostly unaware of it.

There's tons of good advice on here. If you feel your hips are too big, work out to balance the rest of your body with them. But really what you should be working on most is your mind state. Accept yourself. In my experience I see a lot more guys who aren't insecure (even when they probably should be) have success with woman than the guys who are insecure but shouldn't be.

And the other posters are right, looks don't play as large of a role as you think when it comes to women. It's a combination of factors. There is tons of dating advice on here and that may be a greater help to you.
posted by bindasj at 7:14 AM on February 18, 2008

Are you in shape? If not, get in shape. Being kinda doughy is going to accentuate any problems you may have with your hips. If getting in shape is not for you, maybe join the navy or go to prison, there's ample "romantico-sexual" opportunities there for men with lady hips.
posted by electroboy at 7:21 AM on February 18, 2008

I would definitely say that my boyfriend has larger hips, but really broad shoulders too so he kinda looks like an hour glass figure. We're 23.

I'll say that a) nobody notices and b) if you want a tip, take one from the ladies. It's all about proportion, so if you feel like you have "womanly hips" (which I'm sure you only notice) then strengthen your upper body. Develop your shoulders and chest, tighten your stomach, and do squats to put some meat on your lower gluts and quads. I guarantee you that if you do nothing else but concentrate on the shoulders and arms that you will be happier with your body balance. This will put your mind at rest and make you like what you see in the mirror.
posted by CAnneDC at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2008

No human being has an accurate view of themselves. This is a good reason to say 'Hey, I think I may be obsessing about this.'

Secondly, other people are more forgiving in looks then you might assume. Unless youre trying to make money as a model I wouldnt worry about this stuff. Wear clothes that fit, shower daily, get your teeth cleaned, groom your hair, be nice, be funny, be confident, be a gentleman, and the ladies will come.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:30 AM on February 18, 2008

I'm a girl with dude hips. By contrast, my mom has a very hourglassy figure. Ever since I hit puberty we've been jealous of each others' builds. People are just built different ways and there's not much you can do about it. Some dudes have girl hips, some girls have dude hips, it happens. And not many people actually notice or care. I've found plenty of guys attractive who aren't built like wedges with narrow dudely hips.

(And it ain't the soy; a close acquaintance of mine has been a vegan for years, and she has dudelier hips than mine.)

Building upper-body strength (or, really, all-over strength) and seeking therapy would both be good for you. I guarantee it's your confidence and not your hips holding you back. In therapy, address the other reasons you think your "desirability, independent of [your] hips, has declined significantly" as well. More often than not, your desirability comes down to one thing: whether you think you're desirable. For reasons that you've declined to reveal, you don't think you are, and that's what you need to work on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:58 AM on February 18, 2008

I've had some problems such as you described with accepting/appreciating my body. I found it really helpful in changing my perception to tattoo them. I didn't like the birthmark I had on my forearm, so I tattooed over it. Couldn't be happier with it now. Similarly I wasn't a fan of my thighs for a long time, so I put a huge tattoo there, and now though I'm still not crazy about them I have a beautiful piece of art there that I really appreciate, which has made me feel a lot better about them overall. Hips are a little harder to work with, but offer some interesting terrain in terms of what you can accomplish. If you've never considered getting inked, you should think about changing your self-perception this way, it's worked wonders for me.
posted by baphomet at 9:14 AM on February 18, 2008

[a few comments removed -- if the best you can do is say "get over it" and call the OP crazy, feel free to take it to metatalk]
posted by jessamyn at 9:41 AM on February 18, 2008

follow-up from the OP
Thanks, everyone, for your responses. It was nice to read that most of you think this is likely all in my head. Baphomet, your story was particularly reassuring. Rhiannon, I'm glad to think that having wide hips could provide benefits such as you describe, and you were very nice to share that, but my hips are large on the sides, not in the front, so I don't think things would be any different for me in the way you suggest (although I admit I can't really envision what you were talking about). A few points I want to follow up on:

- Re: missmagenta's comment, I actually do have trouble finding pants that fit. I didn't write that in my initial post because it was already long and I didn't think it would be necessary to give corroborating evidence that my hips are wider than the male norm; I should have though, and you were right to bring this up. I am able to wear off-the-rack mens' pants, but I have to buy them very wide, and they do end up being quite baggy on my waist. I've actually found that my best bet is to buy skinny jeans a number of sizes too large. If I tuck my shirt into my pants, it looks ridiculous--my silhouette is very noticeably curved where it should be straight.

- Building up my upper body, suggested by several, is a good idea. I'm sure working out would be beneficial to my self-image in general.

- I'm pretty sure I don't need to see a therapist. It's very difficult to make a post like this without seeming more preoccupied with whatever potential problem you might have than you really are. This is something I think about frequently but not, say, every time I get dressed. People are pulling the words "crippling and permanent disability" out of context -- it was clear that I meant to limit that to the romantic arena (or, as I wrote, "romantico-sexual"... sorry, I was channeling Kunkel), and if big hips for a guy are unattractive on the level that a woman's breasts would be for a guy, then they would definitely qualify as such. It sounds like they probably aren't--all right. I don't have problems with anxiety. Obviously I feel anxious in certain social situations because of my inexperience, but I don't think the degree is outside the normal, and I'm generally not thinking about my hips then. I also don't hate my body, despite worrying about it -- although given the responses some of you may find this hard to believe. My hips are very functional for pushing open doors and for putting my hands on, and I think I look fine, both clothed and naked (except that certain clothes/outfits look dumb on me, like a shirt tucked into pants, as I wrote above); it's what other people think that concerns me. I know, I know, just don't be concerned about that, but I don't see how I can not be when it's of such importance, or rather, when it's of such importance not that everyone should think my hips aren't a problem, but that certain people should think they aren't.

- I'll think about posting a picture, although I would have to take one, so if I do it'll be a little while.
posted by jessamyn at 9:42 AM on February 18, 2008

I've been a Queen fan for many, many years, and back in the mid-1970s, when the band still favored skin-tight trousers, my girlfriends and I would not only ogle them, but we often giggled and commented on Brian May's "child-bearing hips." On the other hand, we still thought he was very attractive and I'm sure not one of us would've thought twice had we been given the chance to "get with" him. Mind you, he was self-conscious about his physique for many years, too; Zandra Rhodes once mentioned that Brian was very shy about costume fittings because of the necessary alterations for his bone structure. So, let's review: he continued his education over the years while persuing his true love, music. He has certainly had his share of female admirers over the years, and now owns many mansions and holds a PhD. Not bad for a guy with girly hips.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:01 AM on February 18, 2008

I also know the pain of having girl hips -- I'm scrawny, with a large hip bone and a narrow rib cage. What I find most helpful is getting pants that are either "straight fit" or "low rise". These have no taper in the leg so they keep your lower half balanced, and they sit lower on the waist so there's less extra material above the hip. Avoid any pants that are "classic" or "relaxed", as they tend to taper.

I also agree with the suggestions about going to the gym and working on your upper body. I plan to do that myself Real Soon Now.
posted by ambulatorybird at 7:52 PM on February 18, 2008

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