With everything going on in the world, you'd think we'd be too busy to worry about "what are hip dips?" After all, who needs to worry about how individual body parts look when we've got climate change and a millionth COVID variant keeping us up at night, right?
But how we feel about our appearance has taken a dive in the past few years. 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 body 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."
We've gone straight to the experts—cosmetic surgeons, medical professionals, fitness instructors, dance teachers and more—to get all of the hippy, dippy truth about exactly what hip dips are, who has them and why, and the benefits of exercise if you wish to diminish their appearance, which can also improve not just your physical, but also your mental strength.
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,” Dr. Rekha Tailor, the medical director and founder of Health and Aesthetics (opens in new tab), tells My Imperfect Life. These indentations are also known as "violin hips" or, in fancy 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...
Dr. Rekha Tailor is the founder and Medical Director of Health & Aesthetics, and is one of the UK’s leading non-surgical cosmetic specialists. She graduated from Manchester Medical School in 1989 and is a fully qualified General Practitioner and Medical Aesthetic Practitioner. She has worked in NHS hospitals and General Practice for numerous years before becoming a full-time Medical Aesthetic Practitioner in 2005.
What causes hip dips?
In short, hip dips are caused by your genetics. Dr. Ross Perry, the medical director of CosmedicsUK (opens in new tab), comfortingly describes them to us 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 (opens in new tab), insists that hip dips are totally natural—and completely down to how your bones were built, telling our writer: "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 hip dips 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 (opens in new tab). "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."
If you do want to use exercise to try and diminish the appearance of your hip dips but are confused about what's the perfect workout schedule, make sure you follow the best home workout tips, giving your body sufficient rest days when needed (overdoing it with too much exercise can actually make you put on weight, after all).
Dr. Ross Perry qualified at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School in 1994 and pursued a surgical career that now comprises NHS skin cancer reconstruction and private cosmetic skin treatments. He is the founder and medical director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, which he established in 2003.
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. "Love handles" can be diminished following a workout to burn calories for healthy fat loss, however, ensure this is done in a safe and carefully tracked manner.
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 for some people they are barely noticeable and for 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, a personal trainer and the co-founder of Common Purpose Wellbeing (opens in new tab).
"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 (opens in new tab), 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." We're a fan of the recent TikTok 'Hot Girl Walk' trend for a fun way to incorporate more exercise into your routine.
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. Follow our self-care day ideas to treat yourself and your amazing body. 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!
Rhea Sheedy is the founder of Ballet Fusion Ltd and has been teaching ballet and fitness for over 15 years. She has been trained with the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and is passionate about adult fitness, health and wellbeing. Rhea develops all the Ballet Fusion exercises, programmes and classes to help our clients achieve amazing results whilst having fun and feeling great.
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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