Three different shapes of a woman’s body

Men and women have different bodies. These differences are clearly visible on the outside. Less clear are the differences on the inside, for example fat accumulation or bone structure. Women’s and men’s bodies are also different. There are three body types and within those three body types there are three subdivisions. What is the ideal image of women and who cares?


There are three different body types. The apple-shaped type (endomorph), the pear-shaped type (mesomorph) and the beanstalk-shaped type (ectomorph). There are three subdivisions in each of these three body types. Light built, normal built and heavy built.



The plump apple-shaped woman mainly gains weight on her stomach. The legs of this type of woman are shorter than their torso. Their breasts are often somewhat larger than average. This type of woman gains weight quickly. They generally have a round face.


This type of woman has the most characteristic feminine shape. The hips are wider than the shoulders. Their legs are about the same length as the torso. When they gain weight, they notice it first on their thighs. They generally have a square or oval face.


These women are shaped like a beanstalk. They are often thin women. Their legs are longer compared to their torso and they have strong bones. These women do not gain weight easily and when they do gain weight, the weight gain is distributed evenly. They generally have a heart-shaped or oval face.

Don’t make yourself fat, thin is the fashion

Western preference is for this. However, that does not mean that the entire world finds thin women beautiful. There are of course extreme cases of thinness, for example women who have anorexia nervosa . Like the 33-year-old British twins Mary and Katy Campbell. But there are also cases of extremely fat women, the partners find being extremely fat so beautiful that they encourage these ladies to eat even more. There will always be people who find extremes beautiful. However, this concerns the findings of an entire community. In several African countries, being fat is a beauty ideal. In a society such as the Wairike tribe in Nigeria, women receive the best food before marriage. This makes them thicker and therefore more desirable. There are women of certain races, such as those of the Bushmen of Africa, who have extra fat deposits on their buttocks and thighs. This is called steatopygia and it serves as an energy supply in times of famine.
Over the centuries, the ideal of beauty for the female body has changed considerably. From prehistoric times we can only rely on what we think we know based on statues that have been found. Figurines of women with voluptuous shapes have been found. Big breasts, wide hips and a big belly. The first corsets date from the thirteenth century, so the ideal image at that time would have been a wasp waist. In Rubens’ time it was fashionable to be plump again, the lush female forms returned. Corsets returned in the nineteenth century. Even the surgical removal of a number of ribs was not avoided to meet the ideal image.

Fat distribution

In women, approximately 20 to 25% of body weight consists of fat (in men this is 15 to 20%). Fat stores are very important for female fertility. A woman’s body must contain at least 16% fat to maintain the necessary hormone production. The typically feminine curves are caused by fat accumulating in certain places. This means on the thighs, buttocks, upper arms, abdomen and breasts. In women who do bodybuilding, you can clearly see where the woman’s fat is normally located. In a well-trained woman, the breasts often disappear completely or partially. And when she is professionally engaged in this sport, ovulation and menstruation can stop due to a lack of fat that maintains hormone production. Even though the Western preference seems to be one of extremely slim women. Most men are instinctively attracted to a curvier female figure. This is because it indicates fertility. When a woman has gone through menopause, her fat stores are the same as those of a man. The fat is also mainly around the waist, this is the typical belly of elderly people.

Changing shapes in the 20th century

In the twentieth century alone, the ideal image of women has changed several times

  • 1920s Garçonne style: This was the Charleston era and the ideal shape at that time was boyish. The women were slim, elegant and waistless.
  • 1950s Venus style: Marilyn Monroe was the ideal image of that period. She had an hourglass figure. A large bust, a slim waist and wide feminine hips.
  • 1960s Frolicking style: At that time, the female image was that of a futuristic romping cat such as Jane Fonda in the feature film Barbarella. She was slim with luscious curves, long hair and a pouty mouth.
  • 1970 Primordial Mother: This was the flower power era. Long hair and lush shapes like Mama Cass from ‘The Mamas and the Papas’ were the ideal shapes at that time.
  • 1980 Combative: In the eighties, ideal women were those who were strong and in good physical condition. They were confident and sensual.

Since the 1990s, a broader ideal image has emerged. There is no longer a special image of beauty that women have to conform to. Now when you walk down the street and look at women, you see many different women. Nowadays fashion is subject to personal taste and no longer so much to a specific image. Tattoos and piercings can be done on men and women. There are women who have their breasts enlarged, but also women who have their breasts reduced due to back problems. Some women wear high heels and super feminine clothing, while other women have a sporty look or wear navel sweaters. The twenty-first century is the century of free choice.

The tallest and the smallest woman in the world

The tallest woman in the world ever measured was Zeng Jinlian. She lived from 1964 to 1982 and was 2.47 meters tall. The largest living woman is the Chinese Yao Defen, she is 2.36 meters. The smallest woman in the world ever measured was Pauline Musters. She lived from 1876 to 1895 and was 61 centimeters. The smallest living woman is the Indian Jyoti Amge, she is 62.8 centimeters.


How tall you are or how small you are and how fat or how thin you are is not very important for a certain ideal image that we women want to impose on ourselves. However, it is important to feel good in your body. So it is important to be healthy, so not too heavy or too light. Please note that one is not the same as the other and we are not one-size-fits-all. Be satisfied and happy with that beautiful body. The body that protects you against external influences and that can often recover in a magical way. Take good care of your body, so that your body can take good care of you. If you want to know whether you are too heavy or too light, measure your BMI (Body Mass Index) at

read more

  • The woman: the hair through the years
Scroll to Top