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.'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions