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Mama's Big Booty Builds Bigger Baby Brain

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

From the plump Venus of Willendorf to painted Rubenesque beauties to modern day curvy girl Beyoncé, those in the know have exalted the ample posterior.

Maybe you hummed along to J. Lo's “Booty” or rolled your eyes when Kim Kardashian tried to break the Internet with her exposed behind. Large bottoms have held a well-rounded place in pop culture, and now there's some science suggesting that moms with big booties make more intelligent children.

Really.

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Ever wonder why it's so hard to burn fat in your butt and thighs? New science concludes there may be an evolutionary rationale behind it. These areas are a depot for fats crucial to building a baby's brain and nervous system, a University of Pittsburgh study found. The same research indicated that fat cells nourish a baby during pregnancy and nursing alike.

But that's not all.

It turns out that moms with larger bottoms had higher levels of brain-building breastmilk lipids, says Cambridge University biologist David Bainbridge. Thighs and bottoms are high in a chemical called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an important component in the human brain. Bainbridge claims there's evidence that their children are more intelligent as a result.

Might this be the reason why some men are hardwired to prefer shapelier women? Perhaps.

Will this news make all moms stop trying to slim down? No, but it would certainly seem to bolster some of the conventional wisdom offered to expectant and newly minted moms alike: Don't focus on losing weight just now.

I remember enjoying my pregnancy in part because I felt exempted from the cultural gaze that criticizes the female form and tempts us to pick ourselves apart, too.

Well-regarded “What to Expect When You're Expecting” warns against dieting while pregnant, which might make sense intuitively but may have even stronger backing now. It's worth noting that the study doesn't claim these fatty cells are the only means to having a smart child. So moms with small backsides don't have cause to worry.

Our culture has a dichotomous relationship with the tush. On one hand, its fullness is celebrated in songs and magazines. Plastic surgery aimed at making behinds plumper is on the rise. On the other hand, postpartum bodies are scrutinized, and new moms start hearing about losing the baby weight while they're still recovering. Not only are these expectations harmful to women, they seem to run counter to what's best for babies' growth and development.

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I remember enjoying my pregnancy in part because I felt exempted from the cultural gaze that criticizes the female form and tempts us to pick ourselves apart, too. For nine months, I could be fat and happy and the world couldn't tell me anything. Are the fullness of my hips and lack of a thigh gap the reasons my 2-year-old can recite the entire alphabet and count to 20? Hard to say. Do I feel like some life-giving earth goddess or a Renaissance muse? Maybe just a little.

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