One of the buzzy terms trending right now that's calling attention to a specific area of the body is "hip dips." Also known as violin hips, hip dips are an indentation where the hips meet the outer thighs.
They've have become a trendy buzzword in recent years, largely thanks to social media. The hashtag #hipdips has over 1.5 billion views on TikTok alone.
Many fitness influencers promote workouts and even diet regimens designed to get rid of hip dips, while other creators demonstrate how to hide them with certain clothing.
At the same time, other influencers have turned the hip dip trend into a body positive movement, encouraging others to confidently embrace their natural curves (or dips).
So what are hip dips, why do some people have them and is there actually any way to get rid of them? We spoke to experts to set the record straight.
What are hip dips?
Hip dips refer to the slight indentation of either side of the outer thigh, which makes it look like there’s a dip that curves inward at the top of the thigh and below the hips, Stephanie Mansour, TODAY fitness contributor, tells TODAY.
Some people describe hip dips as "violin hips" because the shape they give the midsection of the body, which may resemble the outer curves of the instrument.
While it isn’t clear when or how the term “hip dips” originated, it is not a medical term or an actual condition, according to experts.
What causes hip dips?
"It's literally how you’re born, it’s anatomical," Katie Lawton, an exercise physiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells TODAY.com. More or less, hip dips are caused by genetics and the shape and structure of the hip bones, or the pelvis and top of the femur.
The part of the body that sticks out above the hip dip is what's called the iliac crest, which is the curved outer area of the ilium bone, the uppermost part or "wings" of the pelvis, Dr. Julia Iafrate, a sports medicine physician at NYU Langone Health, tells TODAY.com. The iliac crest is the most prominent part of the pelvis, Iafrate adds, and it's the bone you feel when you place your hands on the waist and push down.
Beneath the hip dip is the top of the thighbone or femur (called the greater trochanter), which makes up the widest part of our hips, says Iafrate. In between the ilium and femur are muscles and fat, which curve inward to create the dip.
"The more broad or wide the ilium is compared to the greater trochanter, that is going to make somebody potentially have hip dips," says Iafrate. Additionally, a person with more prominent hip dips may have higher hip bones or the head of the femur bone may be at a downward angle, says Lawton.
So the indentations or dips are not caused by the muscle or fat in that area, Mansour notes, but rather, a person's skeletal build. The extent to which hip dips are visible can be attributed to a person's bony anatomical structure, Lawton notes, not weight.
Some people have this anatomical feature and others don’t — just like other parts of the body may be longer, shorter or shaped differently depending on a person's skeleton, the experts note.
Are hip dips normal?
Hip dips are absolutely normal, the experts emphasize. "It’s just someone’s bony anatomical structure,” says Lawton, adding that hip dips aren't considered an abnormality compared to what "standard" or "ideal" hips look like. Hips with dips are normal hips.
Contrary to much of the language around hip dips on social media, there is nothing wrong or bad about them — they're just another natural part of the body. "Hip dips are beautiful," Iafrate adds.
“Basically, it’s a genetic difference in some people that is not medically concerning whatsoever,” says Iafrate.
Despite, this, "how to get rid of hip dips" remains a commonly searched question, and there are countless videos and guides online which promise to help people get rid of hip dips naturally. Is this actually possible?
Can you get rid of hip dips?
Simply put, no. "I don’t believe there is anything you can do physically to change any type of hip dip," says Lawton.
Since hip dips are caused by the bony anatomical structure, building muscle or losing fat will not get rid of them, Mansour says. So there's really no exercise or diet regimen that can "fix" hip dips or fill in this indentation, no matter what you see online, the experts note.
Spot training (or spot reduction) is not the answer either, the experts note — it rarely is for any part of the body.
“I’m never big into spot reduction ... you can do as many exercises as you want in one area, but your body’s going to decide how it’s going to look, essentially because of how it’s anatomically structured or where your weight generally sits,” says Lawton.
However, there are ways to build muscle and tone the hip and thigh muscles if that is your goal. “You can build an overall rounder or larger or more muscular glute to help create a different look there ... and you can increase muscle mass in the lower body,” says Mansour.
Strengthening the muscles around the hip dips, such as the glutes and hamstrings, has other benefits, the experts note. "Anything related to hip strengthening is very important when we're talking about back pain, knee pain and hip pain," says Lawton.
Hip strength is also important for basic strength training, running and general overall health, Lawton adds.
Here are some good exercises to build strength and tone the lower body, if that's what you're looking for:
Strength exercises to tone lower body
- Side lunges
- Side-lying leg lift
- Hip thrust
- Standing leg lifts to the side
- Romanian deadlift
Cardio exercises for overall fat reduction
Whichever exercise routine you choose, Lawton emphasizes that consistency matters if you're trying to reach a certain goal.
Always talk to your doctor or physical therapist before starting a new workout regimen, especially if you have a history of injuries, hip or knee surgeries or other orthopedic issues, the experts note.
Cosmetic surgery has become so much more prevalent and it’s giving people an inappropriate view of what normal bodies should look like ... and what strong bodies should look like.
Dr. Julia Iafrate, a sports medicine physician at NYU Langone Health
The dangers of social media and body image
Hip dips are not harmful in any way, but obsessing over hip dips and trying to get rid of them could become harmful to one’s body image or mental health, the experts note.
Social media can perpetuate unrealistic standards, especially around fitness and appearance, Iafrate says. Anyone can post a photo and claim exercise or diet helped them achieve results, Iafrate notes, but you never know whether surgery, photoshop or even posing angles and lighting, played a role.
“Cosmetic surgery has become so much more prevalent and it’s giving people an inappropriate view of what normal bodies should look like, what ideal bodies should look like, and what strong bodies should look like,” Iafrate adds. There's no shortage of body-shaming language online, either.
When it comes to fitness influencers or content creators still pushing hip dip workouts, don't always believe what you see or hear. "You have to look at these pictures and videos with a lot of scrutiny and look to actual experts for the anatomy and exercise physiology side of things," says Iafrate.