What are some different types of body shapes?

body shapes

Common ‘male’ shapes

Body shapes, or somatotypes, were first proposed by psychologist William H. Sheldon in the 1940s.

While many people believe that this form of categorisation exclusively applies to men, it can also apply to women’s bodies. This categorises a person’s body based on how lean they are or how easy it is for them to accumulate fat.

There are three different body types:

  • Ectomorph: When the body is thin and slender, with less body fat and muscle, it is said to be in this condition. Gaining weight, whether in the form of muscle or fat, might be difficult for those with this body type. This body type is exemplified by fashion models.
  • Endomorph: This is when the body has a lot of stored fat, a lot of muscle, and may easily gain weight. This body shape isn’t usually associated with obesity. This physical type is exemplified by football linemen and Marilyn Monroe.
  • Mesomorph: This is when the body is at its most athletic and powerful. This body type does not fall into either the overweight or underweight categories. This body type is exemplified by swimmers and volleyball players.

Common ‘female’ shapes

Females have a higher fat mass than males. Due to a combination of larger breasts, wider hips, larger buttocks, and larger thighs, they also have a curvier figure.

While every body shapes is different, the female body shape can be divided into various types. According to a 2004 article, this has its origins in the fashion industry.

Common shapes include:

  • Pear or triangle: The shoulders of people with this body type are smaller than the hips. The buttocks, lower hips, and thighs are where the majority of a person’s weight is distributed.
  • Inverted triangle: When the lower half of the body is smaller than the upper half, and the shoulders are wider than the hips, this is called a pear shape. This body type is prone to gaining weight in the upper body and stomach. Their chests are likewise broader, and their hips are narrower.
  • Rectangle: When the waistline and hips lack definition, this is the case. This body type has identical hip and shoulder widths, and the proportions of the body are generally equivalent.
  • Hourglass: This occurs when the body’s top and bottom sections are both equally broad. The waist of people with this body form is usually smaller than the chest and hips.
  • Oval or apple: This occurs when the body’s top and bottom sections are both narrow. People with this body type have slim legs and carry weight in the chest and stomach.

What determines body shape

Many factors Trusted Source determine a person’s body shape. These include:

  • genetics
  • sex
  • age
  • diet
  • activity level

A person’s body shape may be affected by changes in exercise level and food. For example, if an ectomorph wants to gain weight, they can do so successfully with a proper diet and exercise plan, though they will have to put in some more effort.

Is body typing helpful?

While some people may find identifying their body shape to be beneficial, others may not. Exercise and food can alter the appearance of a person’s body. Furthermore, a person’s body type may not be a reliable predictor of their general health.


A person with an ectomorph body shapes may assume that doing out will not provide them with as many benefits as someone with an endomorph body type, who may find it simpler to acquire muscle.

People of all body types, on the other hand, will notice changes in strength, flexibility, and weight if they stick to an exercise plan.

Metabolic obesity

Some people believe that particular body shapes are less prone to developing diseases as a result of being overweight or obese. However, this isn’t always the case.

According to research from Trusted Source, even those who appear to be of normal weight can acquire metabolic obesity, which increases the chance of acquiring illnesses like type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and some types of cancer.

Metabolic obesity is caused by a lack of physical exercise, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and not eating a healthy, balanced diet. While there are certainly hereditary elements at play, specialists have yet to properly study this link.

Disordered eating

Body dysmorphia is a condition in which a person exhibits characteristics of one body form yet wishes to appear as another. A person’s eating habits may become disturbed in some conditions.

The effects of social media on females in college aged 18–25 years were explored in a 2019 study. Trusted Source. The majority of the participants in the study had a healthy BMI (BMI). Participants with a healthy BMI, on the other hand, regarded their bodies as overweight when compared to those of social media celebrities.

According to the study, persons who encounter a “slim ideal” on social media are more likely to develop disordered eating practises in attempt to meet this ideal.

Eating disorders can severely affect the quality of life of people living with these conditions and those close to them. Early intervention and treatment greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.

Tips to improve body shape

Some people are self-conscious about their physical appearance.

A very curvy individual, for example, may desire a more rectangular-shaped body, whereas someone with a rectangular-shaped body may desire more curves.

Some people may feel pressured by the concept of the “perfect body” form or type, although there is no such thing as an ideal body shape — the most essential factor is one’s health.

The National Eating Disorders Association outlines some thought patterns a person can consider for a more positive body image:

  • Appreciate what the body can do.
  • Remember that beauty is not skin deep.
  • Be around positive people.
  • Shut down negative self-talk.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that inspires confidence.
  • Be critical of social media images.

People must remember that while all bodies are beautiful and distinctive, they are simply a part of what identifies a person. Individuals’ behaviour and how they treat others are also key factors.

If a person has poor body shapes difficulties or suffers from body dysmorphia, they should seek medical advice.