How to Determine Your Body Shape

by Annie on June 2, 2010 · 115 comments

in Weight Loss & Body Image

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.

Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.

Photo by:  416style.

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{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachael June 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Thanks so much for this article. I thought I was a pear or a ruler. My measurements are 35.5, 28.5, 38. So I guess hourglass? Thanks again.

Reply

asithi June 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Rachel you’re an hourglass

Reply

Ana June 28, 2012 at 10:12 am

Hi, my measurements are 40-30-39, with broad shoulders, I’m so confused on what I am! My waist is slightly defined though, so could I be a banana?

Reply

asithi June 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Ana,

You are an hourglass because your waist is 10″ smaller. If you feel like your shoulders makes you appear more top heavy, then wear clothes that draw attention to your waist.

Reply

Kim July 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

This blog post is old so I’m unsure if you’ll even see this.. and if you do, I’m sorry to bother you! but I am also confused about my body type. My measurements are 30-24.5-31.5. I have been losing weight in the hips/thighs/legs and it is hardest for me to lose weight in the arms. This kind of sounds like I’m a pear shape…but i feel like i have really small hips. It was hard to find a spot to measure my hips. I have an extremely small chest and a small butt to boot. Am I a ruler? Or am i just completely off…

Thank you!

Reply

asithi July 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Kim,

You seems more like a bottom heavy hourglass or ruler. Since you did not give enough specifics on problem areas, I am assuming you have no problems with your stomach area. If that is true, then you are probably an hourglass. There are more identifying body shape characteristics here.

Reply

Mia July 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Hi, its Mia again!
I measured myself again and my measurements are 32-27-35.
what is my body shape?

Reply

Kel August 24, 2012 at 10:58 am

Hey! My measurements are 33-36-36, but I am a c cup. am I an hourglass or a cone? Thanks!

Reply

chelsea August 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Hi, my measurements are 36-32-41. I really hope you can reply to this post because i should be pear shaped or spoon shaped, but somehow my upper body looks larger than my lower body because i have broad shoulders. Thanks

Reply

Raney December 21, 2012 at 1:28 am

So this is really old, but I am very curious about my body type. My measurements are 34-26-39. Is my body shape a pear? I always thought I kind of had an hourglass figure until I read about the different body types.

Reply

Asithi January 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Hi Raney – Yep. You are a pear body shape. The reason is that your hips are 5 inches larger than your chest. But because your waist is so small, it is easy to mistake your body shape for an hourglass.

Reply

Kc March 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Hi, I’m confused as to if I’m pear or hourglass my measurements are 36,30,39. does anyone know what body type I would be categorized?

Reply

Asithi March 25, 2013 at 6:49 am

KC,

I’ll say you’re close enough to be pear shaped.

Reply

jay June 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm

My measurements are 38-34-41.5, what body snake would that be? I think ruler.

Reply

Asithi June 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Jay – I think you’re a pear. Notice how there is almost 8 inches between your waist and your hip.

Reply

preet June 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

hi, i am 34-28-34, am i hourglass? also, what kind of cloths should i wear for my body type? thankss

Reply

Josie July 18, 2013 at 11:32 am

I have such an unusual body shape, and I’ve never been able to pinpoint it. My waist is my smallest point at about 32ish, my hips would be around 34 (give an inch or two) and my bust is about 36. But I’m not a pear or an hourglass, because I’m severely lacking in the butt area. It’d be so much easier to find clothes if I knew my shape!

Reply

Asithi July 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Josie, you’re technically not a cone shape since you’re about an inch short on your chest, but I think you’re close enough.

Reply

Kyesha July 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

My measurements are 35.5-28-39, I wanted to know am I a pear or hourglass!

Reply

Asithi July 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

Kyesha – You’re a bottom heavy hourglass.

Reply

Rach July 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Hi thanks for the information, but I am very confused on what I am, im around 33-23-36.5. what do you think i am? im not sure if im hourglass or pear? Please let me know. thank you in advance!

Reply

Asithi July 22, 2013 at 8:55 am

Rach – You’re a bottom heavy hourglass.

Reply

c. August 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Hmmmm, 36.5-30.5-38.5 what do you think? I’d say hourglass, but I have a rather round belly (that hangs below the belly button), a big butt, thick ribcage, but slenderer arms *and* thighs. I’m confused :/

Reply

Asithi August 12, 2013 at 10:41 pm

C. – You’re a bottom heavy hourglass.

Reply

c. August 13, 2013 at 8:08 am

Thank you! I thought so :) but gaining do much in my stomach threwme off. From the front I look like an hour glass when I was overweight (like, my BMI was 40) but from the side I looked completely apple. Confusing!

Reply

Reema August 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

Hey!
My measurements are 35-28-39
What is my body type?

Thanks

Reply

Asithi August 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Reema – you are technically a bottom heavy hourglass, but I think you’re close enough to be a pear shape. It really depends on whether you have the shoulders to balance out the bottom half of your body. If you’re upper body is small and lacks definition, then you are more pear. But if you have wide shoulders, then you’ll look less pear shaped.

Reply

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