Debunking Myths about Male and Female Bodies

Oct 13th, 2017

Product designers are some of our most recurring customers. We have helped clients improve the design of their products ranging from wearable devices to slacks to body armor. There is no one size fits all solution for which body parts need to be measured and accounted for in product design, just as there is no one size that truly fits all consumers.

Although some products are geared specifically for men or women, most products are geared for a combined-sex market. But, whether you are targeting one sex or both, there are some common misconceptions surrounding the body sizes of males vs. females that you should consider. In today’s blog, we debunk some common myths and set the record straight.

1. Hip size

  • Common belief: Women have bigger hips than men.
  • The truth: Women have wider hips than men in absolute terms, but what is important to note is that female hips are also wider in proportion to the rest of the body.

2. Chest size

  • Common belief: Women have larger chests than men.
  • The truth: Women do have more breast tissue than men, but men actually have larger chests, both in terms of overall depth (distance from front to back) as well as circumference (the distance around). The key here is that the male rib cage is deeper and broader than a female’s rib cage.

3. Hand proportions

  • Common belief: Men have bigger hands than women.
  • The truth: Men do, in fact, have larger hands in both length and width than women, but female hands are proportionately longer (ratio of length to width). Any glove designers out there?

There are many cases, especially in law enforcement or the military, where an existing product fits men well but may need to be used by women for the first time. It can be tempting to just use the best guess when adapting a male product for a female audience. But, in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, chances are your competitors are actually getting the data they need to make a better fitting product.

Whether it’s body armor, protective gloves, respirators or police uniforms, good input data leads to designs that are more comfortable for the wearer, as well as safer and more effective. That’s why both male and female users will be better served by designs that take into account those critical body size/shape differences between men and women. And that better fitting product will be safer and more effective for the consumer. It will sell better, and it will produce a greater market share.

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