I feel like I’ve been on a diet since I was born. And while I’ve never been technically fat, I have always felt the pressure to strictly watch what I eat. If I were to be perfectly honest, I’d say I’ve always envied those naturally waifish girls with boyish hips and Kate Moss-like bodies. I’m not Kardashian-curvy, but I’ve got curves that have always made me loathe my hips. And while I’ve always tried to diet my curves away, I never really feel like I’m getting anywhere. Now I understand why.
A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh has found that the fat in our hips, thighs, and butt is actually essential for our babies’ healthy brain development. In fact, study author Will Lassek, a public health epidemiologist, calls fat from those so-called problem areas a “depot for building a baby’s brain.”
“You need lots of fat to make a nervous system and the fats in these areas are also enriched in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is a particularly important component in the human brain,” he explains.
Lassek says that our fat cells are mobilized during pregnancy so that our fetuses can absorb the nutrients in them. Then, nutrients from that fat directly benefits our babies’ brains during breastfeeding. So, researchers concluded, those of us with larger fat reserves in our hips, butt, and thighs tend to have smarter babies.
Before anyone uses this study as an excuse to fire their personal trainer or to stock up on Cheetos, slow down. For me, this study isn’t an excuse to get fat nor is it an excuse to stop being healthy, which is one of the most important things I think a mom can do for her child. But the study is a reminder that those of us who loathe our curves should just stop it. If we can’t love our bodies just because that’s how we were made, at least we should love our bodies for enabling us to become moms.
So next time you look in the mirror and want to suck it all in, just exhale. Pat yourself on the back and remember that your body gave your child that big brain you’re so proud of. If that’s not an excuse to love my thighs then I don’t know what is.