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A Khoisan woman displaying steatopygia

Steatopygia (/ˌstætəˈpɪiəˌstiˌæ-ˌˌstə-ˌ-t-, -ˈp-, -ˈp-, -ə/; from the Greek στέαρ stéar, "tallow" and πυγή pugḗ, "rump")[1][2][3][4] is the state of having substantial levels of tissue on the buttocks and thighs. This build is not confined to the gluteal regions, but extends to the outside and front of the thighs, and tapers to the knee producing a curvaceous figure.


Steatopygia is a genetic characteristic generally prevalent in women of African origin, most notably among though not limited to the Khoisan. In most populations of Homo sapiens, females are more likely than their male counterparts to accumulate adipose tissue in the buttock region. This genetic characteristic is prevalent among women but also occurs to a lesser degree in men. It has also been observed among the Pygmy people of Central Africa and the Onge tribe of the Andaman Islands.[5]

Steatopygia would seem to have been a characteristic of a population which once extended from the Gulf of Aden to the Cape of Good Hope, from which peoples the Khoisan and Pygmies may be remnants.[citation needed] Among the Khoisan, it begins in infancy and is fully developed by the time of the first pregnancy. While the Khoisan afford the most noticeable examples of its development, it is by no means rare in other parts of Africa.

Saartjie Baartman is believed to have had this characteristic.[6]


  1. ^ "Steatopygia". Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  2. ^ "Steatopygia". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  3. ^ "Steatopygia". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  4. ^ "MP3 file". Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "Chapter 5: A Physical Examination". Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  6. ^ Magazine, Justin Parkinson BBC News. "The significance of Sarah Baartman". Retrieved 8 June 2016.