What are hip dips—and can you get rid of them?

What are hip dips? Here's what causes them and why they're totally normal for all body types

Studio shot of unrecognizable women posing against a grey background, women hips, hip dips, what are hip dips
(Image credit: Getty)

With everything going on in the world, you'd think all those "what are hip dips?!" concerns would stop and that the pressure would be off when it comes to how we look. After all, who needs to worry about lipstick, jeans, and shampoo when we’ve got face masks, comfy loungewear and the millionth COVID variant, right?

But how we feel about our appearance has taken a dive in the past year. In fact, a 2021 study commissioned by the House of Commons Committee found that more than half of U.K. adults actually felt "worse" about their body image.

So it’s unsurprising that, following in the footsteps of the "thigh gap" and "thighbrow" body trends, the world of social media has come up with a new fitness phenomena to fret about: hip dips. 

The "hip dip" trend has been gathering steam in the few years but has become even more of a physical fixation during the lockdown, with the hashtag #hipdips used more than 50,000 times on Instagram alone.

We’re all for fixating on our lower halves in a good way, including building up that booty with glute exercises (our guide to the best resistance bands for women will help with that, BTW). But with the internet trying to make hip dips happen, all we really want to do is wiggle around to Shakira’s "Hips Don’t Lie." That aside, read on for all of the hippy, dippy truth.

What are hip dips?

Hip dips are the "colloquial term that is given to the inward depression—or curve—along the side of your body, just below the hip bone,” explains Dr. Rekha Tailor, medical director and founder of Health and Aesthetics. These indentations are also known as "violin hips" or, in scientific speak, "trochanteric depressions."

Many are calling them the new "thigh gap," a 2010s obsession that has persisted for the past decade. "Interest in [hip dips] has increased significantly in the last few months," adds Dr. Tailor, noting that Google searches doubled in lockdown. And that leads us to...

What causes hip dips?

In short, hip dips are caused by your genetics. Dr. Ross Perry, medical director of CosmedicsUK, comfortingly describes them as a "completely normal anatomical phenomenon." He says: "They are caused when one's hip bone is located higher than his or her femur, causing fat and muscle to cave inward." 

Similarly, Dee Hammond-Blackburn, a personal trainer at OriGym, insists that hip dips are totally natural—and completely down to how your bones were built: "The skeletal structure of an individual’s pelvis, the width of their hips, and their overall body fat and muscle distribution will all have an impact on how visible their hip dips are when viewed externally." That's pretty much the same for every single body part.

The main thing to know is that they are not a sign of being overweight or unfit.

 “Recently, more and more people are thinking that hip dips—or lack of—are a sign of how healthy you are,” says Mark Fox, a health and fitness expert from The Training Room. "Although the amount of body fat stored in that area can make them more noticeable, and extra muscle mass can also give you a more prominent look, losing body fat around that area won’t make them go away, as they’re mainly due to bone structure, which you can't change."

Hip dips vs love handles: what's the difference?

"Love handles," also known as "muffin top," refers to excess fat that accumulates on the sides of one's abdomen. They differ from hip dips in that they are located much higher on the body, settling around a person's waistline. Like hip dips, however, some people are simply more genetically prone to having love handles than others. 

Midsection of a woman lying on her side

(Image credit: Getty)

How common are hip dips?

Hip dips are more frequent than you’d think. "Almost everyone has a degree of 'hip dip'," points out Dr. Perry. "It is just more pronounced in some individuals." However, they are more common in women, due to the position of the hip bones and women's genetic fat distribution.

That said, while on some people they are barely noticeable and others they can be very apparent, it may simply depend on your perspective. "Typically, hip dips are most visible when you look straight at your front profile in the mirror," explains Sam Markham, personal trainer and co-founder of Common Purpose Wellbeing.

"However, it’s impossible to calculate how many people have them, and how many don’t—and I think we should therefore accept and celebrate how unique we all are."

How to get rid of hip dips?

It’s a misconception that you’ll be able to erase hip dips entirely from your body. "However, exercising to reduce fat and build muscle can help to reduce the appearance of hip dips," says Dr. Tailor. 

Rhea Sheedy, a dance teacher and founder of Ballet Fusion, advises: "Focus on moves that target the gluteal muscle groups, such as Bulgarian split squats, glute bridges, and lunges. Walking and running are also great for shaping the legs while core workouts—especially those targeting the abs and obliques—will help to shape the waist."

However, Sheedy points out: "You'll sometimes see hip dips in people who train a lot, as more muscle mass—or pronounced strength in certain muscles—can create more noticeable hip dips."

Hip dips are sometimes known as "dancer’s dents," due to the serious amount of booty squeezing, hamstring, hip, and leg work dancers get through. We can't promise a ballerina's behind, but we have some tips on how to tone your butt to get you started.

Hammond-Blackburn mentions that you also shouldn’t forget how you fuel yourself. "Consuming a nutritious diet will play a huge role in how effective a training program is, too, especially one that contains a good amount of protein. This will help to trigger muscle growth in the area and burn excess body fat". (If you're stuck, we have some healthy meal prep ideas for inspiration!)

So rather than obsessively Googling "what are hip dips?" the one single thing that will make you feel better about your hip dips is self-compassion. Fox suggests: "Give yourself a little self-love and embrace those hip dips (or lack of)! The human body is amazing and beautiful." Words to live by!

Lauren is a freelance writer and editor with more than six years of digital and magazine experience. Most recently, she has been the Acting Commissioning Editor of Women's Health—where she co-produced the Going For Goal podcast—and has previously also written news and features for titles including The Telegraph, Grazia, Stylist, Dazed, The Sun's Fabulous, Yahoo Style UK and Get The Gloss. She covers all aspects of lifestyle, specializing in health, beauty, and travel. Can't live without: oat milk lattes, new podcast episodes, long walks, and great skincare.

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