Thin facts for women only: Is female fat different? Hester Matthewman on cellulite

EVERYONE gains a few pounds over Christmas. But if your buttocks are as dimpled as a baby's smile though not as cute, if you increasingly resemble a puckered human orange between the waist and knees, you may have to do more than simply cut out sugar in your tea for a few weeks. Because this is not just any old flab. It's that fashionable, hi-tech version called cellulite.

Men tend to escape it. According to some theories, this is because they don't need to lay down fat reserves to get them through childbearing, so male fat is distributed round the body, rather than coagulated round the bottom. According to others, cellulite in women is a toxin store (presumably men are toxic all over). Others blame hormones, or even gravity. Some anti- cellulite practitioners bluntly admit they have no idea why men don't get it, and it doesn't seem at all fair.

Slimmers of both sexes, however, need a PhD in biochemistry to grapple with the trendy technicalities of combination diets and decreasing metabolic rates. But women get a particularly raw deal from current dieting theory. Female fat cells are 'smart, efficient and stubborn' explains American diet guru Debra Waterhouse. 'No amount of slimming can shift cellulite]' warns Woman's Journal darkly.

The UK's first specialist holistic cellulite clinic opened last year at the London College of Massage. 'It's not just cellulite on your hips, there's a reason,' says Penny Davenport, who overhauls victims' diets (initial nutritional consultation pounds 40). 'People tend to be constipated, their bodies carry an awful lot of rubbish around, and all the toxins stay sitting in little fatty pockets.' The cellulite clinic regime consists of a rigorous detoxifying diet (plenty of prunes, vegetable juice, herbal tea and live yogurt) combined with daily use of a stimulating cactus fibre body brush ( pounds 6.45 - 'it's quite prickly,' admits Penny Davenport.') Hour-long anti-cellulite massages ( pounds 30 each) up to three times a week are also recommended.

The initial treatment ( pounds 40) is to find where the cellulite is lurking. Christine surveyed my thighs and bottom. 'That's not too bad]' she said encouragingly, before attacking my left leg with geranium and juniper oil. 'Aha,' she cried triumphantly, finding a lump in the back of my thigh, 'Can you hear it crackling?'

The treatment is extremely vigorous. As I recovered on the couch, Christine drew my cellulite chart, mapping deposits in blue biro. I was aggrieved to find that I'm lopsided, with more on the right than the left, though apparently this is quite normal.

Theories about what exactly cellulite consists of, and how to eliminate it, are many and varied. 'It's not only fat, it's toxins and fluid that get trapped between tissues. Ninety per cent of women have it. It's hormonal,' says Katie de Lapuente of Champneys Health Spa. She recommends a Draconian regime: 'no caffeine, no alcohol, no smoking, obviously cut out all fats, no fast foods, targeted exercises, aromatherapy ( pounds 39) to speed up circulation, and body wraps ( pounds 32) to make the products sink in. You can't expect miracles,' she warns.

'It's lumpy, liquidy stuff with blood mixed in,' says a nurse at a liposuction clinic where tummy, hip and thigh fat can be instantly slurped away (around pounds 2,200). Out-of-condition men can also opt for a gynaecomastia operation to eliminate saggy breasts (around pounds 1,200) using the same procedure. 'The surgeon makes a tiny little incision and inserts a tube thing. He puts saline in to break everything down and then the fat is sucked out into a machine. Up to three litres can be taken out at a time.'

Less gruesome remedies that don't involve surgery or exercise include seaweed. French beauty company Thalgo recommend Plasmalg gel, a micronised marine algae filtrate (seaweed in water, translated a spokeswoman). She explained: 'We use the Plasmalg under a wrap of cool bandages dipped in Frigi-Thalgo lotion - menthol, camphor and seaweed extract - wrapped round the client's tummy and leg area for 30 minutes. Then we massage with a seaweed cream. You see a loss of at least four inches after the first session; sometimes as much as 20 inches.' Sadly, the effects only last for 48 hours after a single session. 'We recommend six to 12 treatments initially, then once a month. Prices start at pounds 30.'

The medical viewpoint on cellulite is bracingly sceptical. 'Cellulite?' snorts Dr Margaret Ashwell of the British Nutrition Foundation. 'That hoary old chestnut - I've never seen a shred of evidence for it. It's straightforward adipose tissue - fat, fat, fat. If you are pear- shaped,' she adds sternly, 'you should be jumping for joy] It's great fat. It shows you are a true woman with true womanly hormones.'

An added bonus of the pear- shaped figure is natural resistance to heart disease and diabetes, according to Dr Ashwell. She has her own attractive anti-fat strategy. 'Instead of spending money on wonder potions, we should all be using it on sunshine cruises, getting away from the horrible weather here, and exposing our thighs on the beach.'

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

    Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

    Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

    Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In my grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel