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Steatopygia (/stˌætɵˈpɪiə/;[1] from the Greek στέαρ stéar, "tallow" and πυγή pugḗ, "rump") 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.


Although, it is generally prevalent in women of African origin, steatopygia is a genetic characteristic of the Khoisan and some Bantu peoples. It also occurs to a lesser degree in men. In most populations of Homo sapiens, females are more likely than their male counterparts to accumulate adipose tissue in the buttock region. It has also been observed among people of Caucasian origin suffering from Dwarfism, the Pygmies of Central Africa and the Onge tribe of the Andaman Islands.[2]

Among the Khoisan, it is regarded as a sign of beauty. To them the voluptuous body is a sign of good health and fertility. It begins in infancy and is fully developed by the time of the first pregnancy.

It has been suggested that this feature was once more widespread. Paleolithic Venus figurines, sometimes referred to as "steatopygian Venus" figures, discovered from Europe to Asia and presenting a remarkable development of the thighs, and even the prolongation of the labia minora, have been used to support this theory.[3] Whether these were intended to be lifelike or exaggeratory, even idealistic, is unclear. These figures do not qualify strictly as steatopygian, since they exhibit an angle of approximately 120 degrees between the back and the buttocks,[4] while steatopygia is diagnosed by modern medical standards at an angle of about 90 degrees only.[citation needed]

19th Century Native Woman with steatopygia
Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf
Neolithic Goddess

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Chapter 5: A Physical Examination". Retrieved 2012-08-13. [dead link]
  3. ^ Anitei, Stefan (April 2007). "What is Steatopygia? An ancestral trait". Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  4. ^ Passemard, L. (1938). Les statuettes féminines paléolithiques dites Vénus stéatopyges. Nîmes: Tessier.