How to Determine Your Body Shape

I like people watching.  Everyone is so different.  But no matter what size they are, people generally have one of the four body shapes:  ruler, hourglass, pear, or cone.  Your body shape is pre-determined genetically and does not change whether you are taller, skinner, or fatter.

Your body shape depends on how your weight is distributed on your frame. You can be overweight and still considered a ruler.  In my early 20s, I mistakenly believe that my body shape is a pear.  I figured that since the bottom half of me is heavier than the top, I must be a pear since I was too big to be a ruler (little did I know that 10 years later I would roll my eyes at that comment while I sit here writing.  Such naiveté is only cute on the young.).

The 4 body shapes and where the weight is distributed

One body shape is not better than the other.  Your body shape only determines where your body distributes your weight.  Your body shape is like the color of your eyes; it is determined by the genetic lottery pool in your genes.  Sure some people might have a preference for blue eyes, but it does not mean there is something wrong if you happen to have hazel or brown eyes.  You just need to make the best of what you are born with.

Ruler

  • Little to no difference in the measurements between your chest, waist, and hips
  • Tend to store excess weight in your midsection
  • Very few curves

Hourglass

  • Significant difference in the measurements between your chest and waist (and hips and waist)
  • Tend to store excess weight in your upper and lower body, but more slender at the waist
  • Curvy

Pear

  • Significant difference in the measurements between your waist and hips (with the measurement on your hips considerably larger).
  • Tend to store excess weight in your hips, thighs, and butt
  • Eyes tend to zero in on the lower half of your body when looking in the mirror

Cone

  • Significant difference in the measurements between your chest and waist (with the measurement on your chest considerably larger).
  • Tend to store excess weight in your back, chest, arms, and stomach
  • Eyes tend to zero in on the upper half of your body when looking in the mirror

Using your measurements to determine your body shape

It is more difficult to determine your body shape when you are overweight.  If you are anything like me, you probably only see your trouble spots.  Many women tend to think they are pears because they naturally have curves in the lower half of their bodies or are focused on the size of their thighs when they are overweight.  Your body shape is not determined by your size or your weight.  It is determined by how your weight is distributed throughout your body.  You can be small breasted and still be considered a cone.  It is the circumference around your chest that counts, not your cup size.

The three measurements you need to take are the circumference around your chest, waist, and hip:

Chest: Place the tape across the middle of your breast or chest and around your back.  Exhale before taking your measurement

Waist: Place the tape around your waist, 1-inch above your belly button

Hips: Place the tape at the widest spot below your hips but still above your butt

Compare your measurements to the guidelines below to find your body shape (remember it is the proportion that determines your body shape, not the numbers itself):

Ruler

  • All three measurements tend to be relatively close with no significant differences between your chest, waist, and hips
  • Common measurements: 34-30-35, 36-33-37, or 40-36-42 (notice how there is less than a 5-inch difference between any of the measurements)

Hourglass

  • The measurements between the chest and hips are relatively close
  • There is at least a 6-inch difference between your chest /hips and waist.
  • Common measurements:  33-26-33, 36-30,38, 34-28-35, 39-32-38, or 42-35-44 (notice how there is less than 3-inch difference between the chest and hips)

Pear

  • The measurements between the chest and waist are relatively close
  • There is at least a 6-inch difference between your waist and hips
  • Common measurements:  34-30-38, 36-30-44, or 32-28-39

Cone

  • The measurements between the waist and hips are relatively close
  • There is at least a 6-inch difference between your chest and hips
  • Common measurements:  36-32-30, 40-36-33, or 34-30-29

Final Thoughts on Determining Your Body Shape

I used to believe that I am a pear when in reality I am a ruler.  No matter how hard I work my abs, I cannot get that hourglass nip at the waist like my sister.  I need to work with my body shape instead of fighting it.  I can work on my upper body muscles to make my waist look smaller.

Your body shape only defines how the weight is distributed on your body.  You can be overweight and still considered a ruler.  I know when you think of ruler, the automatic image is a thin person.  If you look closely at the measurement guidelines above, an overweight person can be a ruler; their measurements are just proportionally bigger.  How is this information going to help your weight loss goals?  The first step to identifying weight loss exercises for your body is to find your body shape.

If you want to find out more information about dressing for your body shape, you might want to read The Pocket Stylist. Please note that the book offers a good discussion about body shape and dressing, but does not offer as much photos as I would have liked.