Home » Race Realism » The Sexualization of Steatopygia and Adaptationist Claims of Sex Organs

The Sexualization of Steatopygia and Adaptationist Claims of Sex Organs

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Steatopygia is an extreme accumulatation of large amounts of fat on the buttocks, and is also known as obesity in the coccyx (Wallner et al, 2022). “Steato” means “fat” and “pygia” means “buttocks” in Greek. This body type is claimed to be “common in women of the Khoi tribe or ‘Hottentots’ and is considered an aspect of beauty” (Todd, 2010). Steve Sabol, writing for The Genetic Literacy Project, opines that steatopygia could be “the ancestral state of the human lineage.” Steatopygia in the Khoisan has been written about since around the 1600s. This trait has been linked with primitiveness, since it was first noted in the Khoisan (Hudson et al, 2008; Fox, 2020: 16) and has also been observed in the San, the pygmies of Central Africa and the Ong of the Andaman Islands (Shepherd, 2017). Shattock (1909) also notes steatopygous artworks throughout antiquity. Francis Galton noted that while he was too ashamed to ask a Khoisan woman to measure her, he stood back with a pocket ruler and calculated the width and breadth of her buttocks (Hudson, 2004: 326) A few hypotheses have been proposed to explain why Khoisan women are more likely to have this condition, which will be reviewed below.

Perhaps the most famous woman to be afflicted with this condition is Sarah Baartman. Though the date of her birth is contested, she was probably born between the 1770s and 1789. She lived on a farm which belonged to South African colonialist David Fourie, who had settled the land that Baartman’s family lived on. Then, after his death, her clan was broken up and sold to various different people. One free black man took possession of Sarah, and due to his massive debt, began showing off Sarah’s enlarged buttocks which was due to steatopygia, showing her off to British soldiers. She was an exotic dancer for soldiers who were in the infirmary, while men would be able to touch her and even have sex with her if they paid. Then in 1810 she set sail for England with the freed black that bought her and a Scottish physician who thought that she would be better off than being a sideshow for mere soldiers on their deathbed. Racial theories at the time linked fatness to blackness and thinness to whiteness. In fact, fatness as pertains to black bodies had not been seen as anything bad until the Enlightenment, since fatter bodies used to be seen as beautiful to Europeans of that time. This then changed when fatness was linked to racial inferiority. Fatness was a negative racial trait first, before it was medically linked with negative outcomes (Lyons and Lyons, 2004: 31-33; Strings, 2019: 86-87, 94; Stahl, 2018; Nanda, 2019; see Carlan, 2020, Jennings, 2020, Sturgis, 2020, and Davis, 2021 for reviews). After Baartman’s death, her body was kept on display at the French Natural History Museum before being repatriated back to her home of South Africa in 2002. Indeed, Khoisan skeletal remains were seen as valuable due to their steatopygia (Botha and Steyn, 2016).

Strings states in an interview:

fat phobia is not based on health concerns. What I found in my research is that in the West, it’s actually rooted in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Protestantism. In the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonists and race scientists suggested that black people were sensuous and thus prone to sexual and oral excesses. Protestantism encouraged temperance in all pleasures, including those of the palate. By the early 19th century, particularly in the U.S., fatness was deemed evidence of immorality and racial inferiority.

De Villiers (1961) states that the Bushman’s lumbar curve is flatter than other races, and that since they have lower levels of subcutaneous fat, their steatopygia is more pronounced. She notes a small correlation between “butterfly labia” and steatopygia, with an r of .3223. She also states that there is no evidence that the large labia in Khoi women are artificial (I take this to mean that they weren’t stretched), but we now know this is not the case. She ascertained the degree of steatopygia by measuring “the horizontal distance between the apex of the lumbar curvature and a vertical plane touching the most posteriorly projecting point of the buttocks” (de Villiers, 1961: 226) So she noted a 3 to 4.5 inch distance in adults before middle age.

Steatopygia is claimed to be adaptive in warmer climates, or as an adaptation to food stress (Tobias, 1961 and also see Tobias’ discussion with Boyd and Richerson, 1996; see Hudson et al, 2008 for work on steatopygia figurines from the Jomon period in Japan, and they argue that it was adaptive due to food shortages, just like Tobias). Tobias (1961) notes that steatopygia has been observed in Bushwomen throughout Africa, though it can’t be seen as an adaptation to water storage but it could have been an adaptation for fat and protein storage. It has even been claimed—on the basis of one picture of an Andamanese woman with steatopygia—that it was helped them carry their children and that the fat reserves allowed women to carry more body fat for times of famine. This is how ridiculous adaptationist claims are. Tobias (1971: 147) proposed that steatopygia was due to the effects of cultural and natural selection:

The stronger the cultural pressures, the more drastic would be the cultural selection of certain qualities deemed desirable.

But there is no evidence for this hypothesis (Montagu, 1966) (nevermind novel evidence). Froment (2001) states that steatopygia could be a genetic adaptation to food storage.

Even as early as 1919 it was stated that:

Evidence is not presented to show that peoples in which steatopygia is common (it appears to be nowhere universal) are any more able than others to withstand famine, or that among the Hottentots the women on the whole suffer less than the men during scarcity of food. On the other hand it is well known that races in which this character does not occur have accustomed themselves to unfavorable food conditions. (Miller, 1919: 201)

Montagu (1966) proposed his own adaptive explanation:

steatopygia is principally an adaptation to the unique habitat in which the Bushman has evolved, a habitat of great heat and aridity necessitating an adaptive reduction in general body fat in order to permit rapid heat loss, while maintaining a sufficient amount of fat for normal metabolic purposes, especially in an environment which may grow very cold at night. Hence, the reduction of general body fat and its relegation to an unobtrusive part of the body, where it serves as a depot for general utilization by the body.

The claim that steatopygia is adaptive could be seen as basically what is known as the “thrifty gene hypothesis”. The hypothesis states that fat storage was positively selected for in hunter-gatherer populations (Sugden et al, 2018)—this is also similar to the nutritional reserve hypothesis (Low, 1987). Even John Baker in his book Race (Baker, 1971:318) states that it is improbable that the large buttocks of these women is due to a kind of storage for famine, since they most likely did not evolve in the area.

An entailment of the hypothesis could be that men found steatopygous women attractive, and since the fat stores conferred a survival advantage, and since men liked it, then it continued to be passed on. The observations of the hump of a camel and excess fat in the ass of a desert sheep is said to be analogous to steatopygia in Khoisan women (Findlay, 1959). But Tobias (1961: 34) explicitly rejects this notion, stating that it’s an adaptation due to a hunter-gatherer economy, and that the fat stores are for fats and protein, also claiming that sexual and cultural selection worked with natural selection to enhance these features. Krut and Singer (1963: 181) also state that “there is no preference on the part of the males for steatopygous women.”

Basically the hypothesis is that fat storage is a vertebrate adaptation in response to times of famine and low food storage and so, since it was an adaptive trait and seen as beautiful, it continued to be preserved in certain lineages. It is even estimated that H. erectus had 66% higher daily energy needs than austrolopithecene with it being almost 100% higher in lactating erectus compared to austrolopithecene. Then the higher demand for energy could have led to higher fat storages, which could then explain the incidence of steatopygia in Khoisan women (Kuipers et al, 2012).

In Race Differences in Intelligence, Lynn (2006: 50) also repeats the famine hypothesis, while also stating:

The genitalia of the Bushmen are unique among the human races. Bushmen have penises that stick out horizontally, while Bushwomen have prominent minor labia that descend about 3 inches below the vagina. The adaptive advantages of these characteristics are unknown.

“Penises that stick out horizontally” may mean “semi-erect penises”, but I cannot find any reliable source of information for this claim. While there was an older comparison between bonobos, apes, and Bushmen comparing their “semi-erect penises” (Gordon, 1998: 41), this seems to me to be nothing more than a racist conjecture in an attempt to paint Africans as “closer to apes”, so of course Lynn repeated it. It was also claimed that as a Bushman become more admixed, they would then begin to have a “droopier penis”, and so one could ascertain a Bushman’s admixture on the basis of his “droopier penis” (Gordon, 1998: 38). Nevermind this panglossian claim from Lynn that the “adaptive advantages” for the traits are unknown, as if every trait needs to have an adaptive reason that it still exists today. The semi-erect penis claim, it seems, is merely an old, repeated claim with no evidentiary basis.

Sounds like just-so stories all the way down (Gould and Lewontin, 1979).

There is also the “Hottentot apron” (also known as the tablier; de Villiers, 1961) which is an elongation of the labia. This was noted in medical textbooks, but describing Khoi women was removed in subsequent editions (Hayes and Temple-Smith, 2022). The black body has clearly been fetishized (Villani, 2022). In any case, the labia minora is stretched by some African people, and has been seen to be stretched up to 20cm, with this being known as type 4 genital mutilation (Puppo, 2010; also see Koster and Price, 2008). It has even been argued that “contemporary cosmetic labiaplasty is highly invested in a colonial sexual imaginary, by which the aesthetic valuation of the labia is linked to the construction and maintenance of racial hierarchies” (Nurka, 2018; James, 2021).

The racist hyper-sexualization of the black body began around the time of slavery (Loft, 2020), while it continues to this day on the basis of myths of racial differences in penis size (Hilliard, 2012; Lynn, 2013) Though it’s nothing but pseudoscience. In any case, the sexualization of black men and women has been noted for years by many authors.

So paranoid and yet fascinated were many white males with the notion of the stallion-like sexual performance of black males that at the turn of the twentieth century, it was not uncommon for those white southerners who lynched black males to mutilate their poor victims’ genitals and castrate them as well. David M. Friedman, in A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis, documents not merely the Western obsession with the black man’s penis but also the macabre lengths to which such fear and envy can go. He identified ritual castration as the final act of the lynch mob, explaining: “To really kill a black man, you first had to kill his penis.”6 Friedman devoted an entire chapter in his book to the ways in which white fears of sexual competition with black males had translated into a strange but enduring fetishism about the black male organ. (Hilliard, 2012: 72)

The racist hyper-sexualization of black women and men has its roots in colonialism (Holmes, 2016), and black women are dehumanized and hyper-sexualized more than white women, being compared more to objects and animals (Anderson et al, 2018). Basically, black women are objectified more than white women are.


Claims that any trait T are adaptive are merely just-so stories. That is, they are merely ad hoc hypotheses and no novel evidence can be provided in support for the hypothesis that would raise the probability of the trait being an adaptation. It is not confirmation of a hypothesis that a trait merely exists, since the hypothesis attempts to explain why the trait exists in the first place. Gould and Lewontin (1979) warned about assuming that traits are adaptations, and even said that once one adaptive story has been shown to be false that they would then erect another story in an attempt to show that the trait is an adaptation without ever contemplating that the trait is not an adaptation.

So Lynn’s wondering of the adaptive reasons of Khoisan steatopygia, “horizontal penises”, and enlarged labia are merely nothing more than the thoughts of a panglossian. “The trait exists so it MUST have an adaptive function.” And while there are a few different adaptive hypotheses for steatopygia, there is no way to distinguish it from being an adaptation or a byproduct. That is, a byproduct hypothesis would be just as valid as an adaptation hypothesis, due to the linkage of traits. But we need independent evidence in order to be justified in believing that T is an adaptation. That is, we need a novel fact of the matter that was unknown before the formation of the hypothesis. And if there is no novel fact, then the hypothesis is a just-so story. It’s merely circular reasoning. In fact, Lynn’s and Rushton’s obsession with penis size is merely due to their obsession with proving—whether they deny it or not—racial superiority and inferiority.

PumpkinPerson, using his long-outdated belief that evolution is progressive using evolutionary trees, claims—using a Y-chromosome tree—that the Bushman are at the bottom of the tree and “are believed to have absolutely colossal sexual characteristics” which is “consistent with Rushton’s theory that less advanced populations are more r selected.” “Rushton’s theory” meaning the long-dead Differential-K theory also known as r/K selection theory. PP here is just repeating the claim that these traits are “primitive”, since they are “older” and the traits are presumably not seen in “younger” populations, and is like the claim cited above from Sabol where he states that steatopygia is an ancestral state of the human lineage. The claim is, of course, ridiculous.

The fact of the matter is, there is no good evidence (by “good evidence” I mean independent evidence) that steatopygia is an adaptation, along with the other supposed adaptationist claims from the last 100 or so years. One can think of a multitude of different stories that explain the evolution of one single trait, but that isn’t good enough, as can be seen. Independent, novek evidence, is needed to raise the probability of the state of affairs being true, and I’m at a loss of thinking of any kind of novek facts generated from any of the steatopygia-as-adaptation hypothesis. These hypotheses were formulated due to the sexualization of Africans, which has of course continued to today with the claims of Rushton, Lynn, Kanazawa, Hart, and Templer. However, their just-so stories—along with the ones about sexual characteristics having an adaptive function—hold no water.


  1. Fascinating. A lot of this flies over my head, but I glean, I believe, the jist of it. Curious that the change in attitude regarding women with sizeable assets began with the introduction of show negroes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sad. says:

      rr demonstrates his racism here by calling koi-sans “black”. they aren’t. even less than amharic speaking ethiopians.

      they do not speak a bantu language. their languages form a language family unique to them.
      they are the indigenous people of southern-most africa. bantus didn’t arrive until just 1,000 years ago at the earliest.
      the only thing they share with blacks is kinky hair. but how kinky is it. can they even grow an afro?
      the xhosa language also has clicks borrowed from the koi-san languages, but it is a bantu language.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lurker says:

    White “racist” scientists don’t sexualize black bodies, they find them disgusting. It is modern rap that has sexualized black female bodies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. referring to the koi-san as "black" is like referring to the japanese as "white". stupid. says:

    The authors of these studies suggested that the San may have been one of the first populations to differentiate from the most recent common paternal ancestor of all extant humans.

    The distinctiveness of the Khoisan in both matrilineal and patrilineal groupings is a further indicator that they represent a population historically distinct from other Africans.[46]

    much less or no prognathism.
    much lighter skin.
    cheekbones and eyes unique. they look chinese.

    they aren’t black!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rr's racism is gross. says:

    the identification of the koi-san as “black” is pretty fucking racist.

    when richard pryor visited nigeria he claimed the locals thought he was italian.

    the point is: skin color in africa isn’t the result of recent admixture the way it is in the US. it’s super ancient. semitic language speaking ethiopians, like the hottentots, are NOT black.


    all of the new world’s blacks are black. there were no slaves from SW africa or east africa. none.

    obama’s father was a kenyan, a country from which NO slaves originated.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. another example of rr's racism says:

    one simple thing you could do is stop blaming whites for everyone else’s problems. it’s not “reverse racism” it’s just racism. CRT and “anti-racism” are RACISM.

    apparently you believe hating whites is cool.

    you’re evil.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nate Higgers says:

    What’s the point of calling yourself “Notpoliticallycorrect” if all you do is sputter out basic bitch progressive talking points. The West is dominated by “Western standards of beauty” but also “hyper-sexualizes” (not just sexualizing but HYPER-sexualizing,wow) bLaCk BoDiEs. Data from dating apps to personal interviews show that Whites do not fancy Blacks even in an age of mass miscegenation. You good sir, are a faggot. Reexamine yourself and stop being one. Good day to you.


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