What are hip dips? You've probably seen the term increasingly floating around online in the same way that "thigh gaps" did in the 2010s. Social media has now seemingly declared hips as the latest body area to fret about, and the hashtag #hipdips has been used more than 50,000 times on Instagram alone.
Now, we’re all for focusing on certain parts of our physique in a healthy way—such as by toning your bum with glute exercises (our guide to the best resistance bands for women will help with that, BTW). But an unhealthy scrutinizing of our appearance has been linked by research (opens in new tab) to the pandemic when people felt "worse" about their body image.
For hip dips, in particular, we've called on the experts—medical doctors, fitness professionals, and the like—to explain, for those who are unfamiliar, exactly what hip dips are and why some people might have them but not others. It's important to remember that—whether you do or don't have them—that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your figure and that your body should be cherished just as it is!
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,” says Dr. Rekha Tailor, the medical director and founder of Health and Aesthetics (opens in new tab). These indentations are also known as "violin hips" or, in fancy scientific speak, "trochanteric depressions."
Google searches for "hip dips" doubled during the first Covid-19 lockdown, noted Dr. Tailor. Much of the noise they've created centers around the idea that they are somehow "bad" and should be gotten rid of. However, experts insist that they are actually totally normal and are a natural part of many of bodies.
Dr. Rekha Tailor is the medical director and founder 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 GP and medical aesthetic practitioner.
What causes hip dips?
In short, whether you have hip dips or not is down to your genetics. Dr. Ross Perry, the medical director of CosmedicsUK (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab), agrees that hip dips are simply a result of how your body was built. She explains: "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."
The main thing to remember 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 at 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."
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" refer 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.
However, they can be reduced through healthy fat loss, which should be done in a safe manner without depriving yourself of any of the nutrition and your body needs. If you're planning the perfect workout schedule, then make sure to explore which workouts burn the most calories.
How common are hip dips?
Hip dips are much more common than you might 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 frequent in women than men, due to the position of the hip bones and female genetic fat distribution.
That said, 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?
We believe that your body is beautiful just as it is. "However, exercising to reduce fat and build muscle can help to reduce the appearance of hip dips," notes Dr. Tailor. We're a fan of the recent TikTok "Hot Girl Walk" trend for a fun way to incorporate more exercise into your routine.
Alternatively, 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 (but make sure you're using one of the best yoga mats to assist you). 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."
Rhea Sheedy is the founder of Ballet Fusion Ltd and has been teaching ballet and fitness for over 15 years. She trained with the Royal Academy of Dance and is passionate about adult fitness, health and wellbeing.
Although exercise might have the opposite effect. As 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." In fact, they are sometimes known as "dancer’s dents," due to the serious amount of bum squeezing, as well as hamstring, hip and leg work dancers get through.
Hammond-Blackburn notes 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," she explains. "This will help to trigger muscle growth in the area, and burn excess body fat."
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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