The hips are the sides of the pelvis region where the body is widest. They are the muscle and fat areas over the bony projection of the femur. When a person is standing, his/her hips are approximately at the same height as the low end of their buttocks.
Sexual dimorphism in humans
In humans, unlike other animals, the hip bones are substantially different in the two sexes. The hips of human females are broader and deeper than those of males. The femurs are also more widely spaced in females, so as to widen the opening in the hip bone and thus facilitate childbirth. Finally, the ilium and its muscle attachment are shaped so as to situate the buttocks away from the birth canal, where contraction of the buttocks could otherwise damage the baby.
Cultural significance of hips
It should also be noted that hips have long been associated with both fertility and general expression of sexuality. Since broad hips facilitate child birth and also serve as an anatomical cue of sexual maturity, they have been seen as an attractive trait for women for thousands of years. Many of the classical poses women take when sculpted, painted or photographed serve to emphasize the prominence of their hips. In Western society, this often harks back to classical notions of female beauty, particularly in the Venus Kallipygos. Similarly, women's fashion through the ages has often drawn attention to the girth of the wearer's hips.
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