I have decided to post this, because I see so many woman disillusioned about their own unique body type.
Just like clothing trends, throughout time there have been body type trends. In the 1920s, the banana/ectomorph type was celebrated, in the 50s-60s, the hourglass, and these days, its a mixture, but its still very limiting.
I see a lot of ladies get into diet and exercise thinking that they can change their body to fit a certain mold, but sometimes that isn't possible. For example, if you're an endomorph/apple/large frame, you aren't going to look like a super-thin ectomorph/pear.
This, I believe, is a cause of poor body image / unhealthy habits in diet and exercise. You're made to believe that anyone can look like a ballerina or runway model (typically small-framed ectomorph/banana) if you just have enough determination and willpower.. but I'm about to show you why thats wrong.
#1 The different body shapes:
This is the figure that most women desire. Although there are some disagreements about characteristics of other body shapes, hourglass is easy to describe. Woman has big breasts, slim waist and wide hips. Although waist to hips ratio could have slightly different values, it is always low and bust should match the proportions of hips and buttocks. Popular women with this body include Kim Kardashian, Sofia Vergara, and Katy Perry. You can wear almost any swimsuit with this body type and still look good. Although you can dare to wear bikini, you would be also suprised, how flattering can one piece swimwear look at you.
Pear or Triangle
This figure is characterized by wide hips and buttocks that are bigger than bust. Fat is tends to be stored in the lower part of the body. This body type is very feminine and widely popular across different times and countries, but is not preferred in current western civilization as much. Beautiful examples of Pear shape are Beyonce, Shakira, and Nina Dobrev. Swimsuit for this body shape should optically enhance upper half of the body, especially breasts. Try padded swimsuit bra and/or wearing lighter color on top, darker on bottom.
Inverted triangle or Athletic
Main feature of this type are wide shoulders with slim waist and narrow hips. Desired by many fitness freaks while others perceive it as too manly. Usually breasts are not very large, but exceptions exist. Look for example at Jessica Biel, classic inverted triangle while she still has natural C cups. Other celebs with this body type include Bo Derek and Pink. When choosing swimsuit by body shape, this women should to pick the type of straps that are not making shoulders to appear even wider. Attracting attention toward cleavage also works.
All apple types store fat predominantly in belly area, while hips are smaller. Round figure and usually also round face are charateristic features. Breast size can vary from small to big one. Check following examples of “Apple”: Kate Upton, Lindsay Lohan, and Adele. One piece swimsuit with colors, that optically narrow the waist and with deep cleavage to work with your best assets, are good choice for this body type. But also look at Kate Upton and how successful bikini model she became with apple body shape.
Banana or Rectangle (or ruler)
Very slim figure, classic supermodel-like look. Praised by current fashion industry and targeted as too boyish by some others. Women of this type have slim shoulders and hips, flat belly, smaller breasts and butt cheeks. It is very easy for them to maintain low weight. On the other hand, is they never have larger bust than B cups, if they stay natural. Take Cintia Dicker, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Miranda Kerr as typical examples of this shape. Banana body shape is the one that should wear tiny triangle bikini most of the time while swimming or tanning. This swimsuit type flatters to slender firm body with smaller curves.
(source Female Body Shapes and swimsuits to choose from)
(*You can be a combination of types)
#2 Frame size:
Here is one of the reasons that bmi is flawed. Two people of the same height can have different sizes of bone structure, which means that one can weigh 10-20 lbs more than the other and still be at their ideal weight. If you plan on using bmi, keep that in mind. The lower healthy range is probably fine if you have a small frame (even slightly under or over that of course), and the higher healthy range (a little over or under) is better for a large frame.
From what I have observed however, there are more frame sizes than small, medium, large. I'd say there are:
xs, s, sm, m, ml, l, xl
Adele and the red haired lady from madmen probably have xl frame size. Kate winslet, probably large frame. They have all been criticized for their weight even at a healthy weight for their frame size (though yes I acknowledge that Adele carried more weight before, in the past - it still wasn't enough that it would likely lead to a health issue. Vanity thinness =/= health.)
#3 Endo, Meso, Ecto:
Now again, you can be a combination of these.
An anecdote to start off with. I had a friend who ate less than me, but weighed about 80 lbs more than me. In order to get down to my average size, she had to cut calories by a lot, and work out constantly. Frustrating for her, puzzling for me, until I learned about differences in body types.
She was an endomorph: I had an endomorph lady once tell me that she could just smell cake and gain five lbs. The endo naturally gains fat easily -- but they also gain muscle easily. Even at a lower weight their body will appear softer and rounder (traditionally thought of as "womanly/curvy") than the mesomorph or ectomorph. I have read that the endomorph tends to do better when they limit their carbs, and time their carbs so that they burn them off during workout sessions. Both weight training and cardio are recommended for this body type.
The lady on the right has a very lovely shaped endomorph type body, very sensual curves.
Mesomorph: Most of the winners of the miss america pageants tend to be mesomorphs. This body type is slow to gain fat, quick to gain muscle. They gain muscle definition with much less work than any other type. This body type can look athletic even if they sit on their asses most of the time. : P
Venus and Serena Williams are good examples of -pure- mesomorph women. Their bodies just soak up muscle mass.
Amazingly athletic, beautiful muscle tone.
Ectomorph: This is the type that others often admire, for their naturally thin body, and lack of worry about weight gain. They find it hard to gain fat, or muscle. Ballerinas and runway models who are still healthy, yet super thin, are ectomorphs. There are other types who can stave their bodies to look this thin, but they can't maintain such a low weight as healthily as the ectomorph who is in fact, naturally thin. These ladies often get a lot of flack from others, unfairly, who might assume they have an eating disorder. There is a lesson in this: you can look at two thin bodies of the same size, and not know what kind of actual -health- they are in.
The ecto, being small all over, has the luck of being able to fit into all the prettiest fashions, and rarely has trouble finding a good bra. ; P
Ectomorphs can also be curvy - and I would call their curves "sharp" curves, instead of "soft" curves like the endo.
#4 Muscle Twitch:
Slow Twitch (Type I)
The slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel (known as ATP) for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibers and can go for a long time before they fatigue. Therefore, slow twitch fibers are great at helping athletes run marathons and bicycle for hours.
Fast Twitch (Type II)
Because fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create fuel, they are much better at generating short bursts of strength or speed than slow muscles. However, they fatigue more quickly. Fast twitch fibers generally produce the same amount of force per contraction as slow muscles, but they get their name because they are able to fire more rapidly. Having more fast twitch fibers can be an asset to a sprinter since she needs to quickly generate a lot of force.
What Causes Muscle Fatigue?
Type IIa Fibers
These fast twitch muscle fibers are also known as intermediate fast-twitch fibers. They can use both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism almost equally to create energy. In this way, they are a combination of Type I and Type II muscle fibers.
Type IIb Fibers
These fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create energy and are the "classic" fast twitch muscle fibers that excel at producing quick, powerful bursts of speed. This muscle fiber has the highest rate of contraction (rapid firing) of all the muscle fiber types, but it also has a much faster rate of fatigue and can't last as long before it needs rest.
Fiber Type and Performance
Our muscle fiber type may influence what sports we are naturally good at or whether we are fast or strong. Olympic athletes tend to fall into sports that match their genetic makeup. Olympic sprinters have been shown to possess about 80 percent fast twitch fibers, while those who excel in marathons tend to have 80 percent slow twitch fibers.
(Source: Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fiber Types)
So, your unique body is some mixed combination of all of these - one shape and size, does not fit all, no matter how fit and healthy you are.
*I am not making -any- value judgments in this post, other than acknowledging the beauty of all different types. Their perceived strengths and weaknesses are in the eye of the beholder, and cultural trends of any given time period.