Cottage cheese, orange peel, hail damage. By any other name, cellulite may still throw the perfectly sane into a tizzy as winter pants and coats are doffed for more revealing spring and summer styles.
This cultural anxiety has meant big bucks for some beauty product–makers and medical practitioners alike. A barrage of products and procedures promise to seek out and destroy the lumpy fat on thighs, bottoms, arms and tummies, but a miracle cellulite assassin has still yet to be uncovered.
It’s a condition that affects 90 percent of women and 10 percent of men, mostly in industrial nations. As women start approaching menopause, estrogen starts decreasing. From 25 to 35 is when you start seeing the appearance of cellulite. Estrogen has an impact on the blood vessels. When estrogen starts to decrease, you lose receptors in blood vessels and thighs, so you have decreased circulation. With decreased circulation you get less oxygen and nutrition to that area, and with that we see a decrease in collagen production…. [Also, at this time] fat cells start becoming larger, [they] begin protruding through the collagen
I don’t think it has an evolutionary purpose. I think as people have evolved in an industrial society, we’ve become lazier. Our jobs are sitting at a desk, answering the phone. We don’t go to the gardens and pick our food—we drive to the store and park in the spot closest to the building. So we’ve become more sedentary as a culture.
The bulk of the articles on cellulite in the scientific literature started in about the late '70s, but you [could] say women didn’t expose their legs [much before then]. What I try to do is find old picture books, women in the 1950s or 1960s…. When you find these pictures, women had perfect legs. And back in the '40s and '50s they didn’t have the computer programs to retouch those photos.