A pile of oranges

There's a good reason women get more cellulite than men

If you’re a woman over 25, or perhaps even younger than that, then at one point or another you’ve probably looked at your thighs and lamented the appearance of a patch of dimpled skin. But if it's any consolation, you’re not alone in falling victim to the menace of cellulite. Every year American women spend billions of dollars on products to get rid of it, buying everything from magic creams to coffee scrubs to hideously expensive ultrasound treatments. Alas, more often than not, it just doesn’t seem to want to budge.

But have you ever noticed that our partners and man mates seem to be able to waltz through life without even giving so much as a second thought as to how dimply their backside is? Unfair, isn’t it? And while it would be misleading to say that men are immune from the dreaded orange peel effect, with 10 per cent of men being affected by it, it’s still a disproportionately female problem, with an enormous 90 per cent of women experiencing it at some point during their lives. So, why is this? Well, apparently, it’s all to do with genetics.

First, let’s start with a clarification: rather than being "excess fat", as many think, cellulite is actually completely normal fat just forming into pockets and being pushed through to the skin. According to scientists, how visible this is has a lot to do with differences in the structure of male and female skin. You see, cellulite is formed because of the way that the collagen - the protein in the connective tissue that keeps us firm and holds our fat in place - is shaped differently between the sexes; in women, it’s like a picket fence, in men it’s more like a criss-cross fence. And guess which shape does a better job of it? Yup, it’s the criss-cross fence.

And when it comes to producing that fat in the first place, the biological makeup of your thighs are probably working against you too - for every one one beta receptor (the stuff that breaks down fat), women have nine alpha receptors (the stuff that causes it to stick). If that wasn’t enough, blokes have also got the added life hack of being filled with testosterone, which breaks down fat, rather than oestrogen, which builds multiple layers of fat in places where the much-feared cottage cheese is most likely to develop. All in all, it seems like your female body is just trying to give you cellulite.

So, short of chopping our legs off entirely (not recommend) is there anything that can be done to reduce its appearance? Preferably something without a hefty price tag/ harsh disappointment combo? Well, you'll be relieved to know that dieting alone may not be the answer, as it has been shown to make the appearance of cellulite worse, but unfortunately you will have to shift it the old-fashioned way: “Getting rid of cellulite requires proper exercise, nutrition, proper circulation and the control of fat-storage hormones (that are) more prevalent in the lower body," Ariane Hundt, a personal trainer and founder of Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp told CNN. In other words, cut out the sugar and start squatting. Oh joy. 

The truth is though, no matter how much you exercise, it might not make you immune, because even the most slender of people can get cellulite too. After all, even Victoria’s Secret models and the proud owner of the bum that broke the internet, Kim K, get it - and just think how great their personal trainers must be. Even some female athletes can experience cellulite, while others will not: "If your connective tissue is put together differently than your friend’s, your skin is going to look different. Just like skin color, hair, and height are all genetically determined, so is your predisposition to cellulite" wrote Vanessa Bennington, a qualified nurse and health coach, in Breaking Muscle.

Call it what you want - orange peel, cottage cheese, waffle butt - the outcome is going to be the same: dimply legs and a pockmarked posterior. But the bottom line is that it’s insanely common, completely natural and there’s not that much we can do about it - it was decided the minute your chromosomes were. So, instead of shelling out on that $40 cream and giving the beauty industry exactly what it wants, let’s embrace the age of body confidence and flaunting our "flaws". And if you’re still not ready to go bare, chuck a cheeky Instagram filter on your holiday snaps. But in 20 years, you'll look back and wonder what you were ever moaning about.