8 Myths About Cellulite You're Probably Mistaking For Fact, Even Though It's All BS
Topping the list of all the BS things society makes women feel bad about but definitely shouldn’t, is a term I’m sure you’re all familiar with, and that’s cellulite. Cellulite is a word loosely used to describe the fat on someone’s (typically a woman’s) body. However, Refinery29 recently uncovered the true history behind the term, showing there are a lot of myths about cellulite that need some debunking ASAP. In fact, you probably don’t know as much about the subject as you think you do, including what cellulite actually is and where it comes from. Prepare to have your mind blown, babe, because this anatomy lesson is about to school you like you wouldn’t believe.
It turns out, Refinery 29 reports, cellulite is actually a French term, and was coined by doctors Émile Littré and Charles-Philippe Robin in 1873 to sum up, in one word, inflamed or infected cells, primarily in the pelvic area. According to Professor Rossella Ghigi, who published her thesis on the subject in December of 2004, cellulite has zilch to do with fat, and everything to do with a medical diagnosis. The contemporary definition of cellulite that you and I are all too familiar with, Ghigi argued, is a result of the original one getting lost in translation after World War I, when women weren’t quite as buttoned-up anymore.
Ghigi goes on in her thesis to point out that, in 1933, Votre Beauté magazine referred to cellulite as a combination of “water, residues, toxins, fat, which form a mixture against which one is badly armed.” This was, in Ghigi's research, the start of cellulite's now-very-negative connotation. Fast-forward to the year 1968, and according to Refinery29, the term made headlines when Vogue introduced it as “the fat you could not lose before.”
Thus was the start of cellulite becoming public enemy number one. But, contrary to popular belief, cellulite isn't necessarily a bad thing, and according to Dendy Engelman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, it's actually more common than you think. She told SELF that "93 percent of women have [cellulite]," adding that "even very thin people can have cellulite and it is considered normal from a medical standpoint to have some." Yes, you read that correctly: Cellulite is considered normal, and that's by a medical professional's standards.
If you're still having your doubts, though, I totally get it. Cellulite has taken on quite the bad rap over the years, and seeing as how the true definition of cellulite seems to have been significantly altered throughout the years, it's no wonder there's so much confusion about what it really is, and how it affects your body. To put your mind at ease, here are some of the most common myths about cellulite, debunked.
1. Men Don't Have Cellulite
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, defines cellulite as fat that sits under the skin, often in the thighs, hips, and buttocks, "that give a puckered and dimpled appearance to the skin surface." Now, last time I checked, both men and women have skin, and fat is not gender-exclusive, either. When I put it into perspective this way, the idea that men don't have cellulite seems kind of silly, right? That's because it is.
"Women develop cellulite more often than men do, although it can definitely affect both sexes," Dr. Axe tells Elite Daily. "Cellulite tends to get worse as we age, since our skin becomes more saggy due to loss of collagen and because we typically lose muscle mass." Again, though, this can happen to literally anyone, regardless of gender.
2. Cellulite Develops When You Don't Exercise
According to Medical News Today, cellulite can develop as a result of a combination of things, such as hormones, age, lifestyle, and genetic factors. That being said, however, Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, says a lack of exercise can technically lead to more visible cellulite. "Lack of muscle tone means weaker connective tissues and more room for fat to push toward the skin layers, causing cellulite to appear on the body," she tells Elite Daily. "Obviously, exercise can help develop more muscle tone and reduce fat in the body."
It's important to note that, while Derocha does state the facts here, there's absolutely no reason to feel like you need to exercise to reduce the appearance of cellulite on your body. Cellulite is, again, completely normal and natural, and if you don't mind it, then own it, girl.
3. Cardio Is The Best Exercise You Can Do To Reduce Visible Cellulite
As Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect would say, don't put me down for cardio. Listen, things like running or cycling are ah-mazing for getting your heart rate up, but if cardio just isn't something you enjoy (no matter how many times you've tried to make peace with the treadmill), don't sweat it.
According to Derocha, any form of physical activity is more beneficial than none, but cardio isn't the end-all-be-all if you're looking to reduce the visibility of cellulite on your body. "Strength training and resistance training are more beneficial," she tells Elite Daily, because building muscle will ultimately "help reduce fat and can minimize the appearance of cellulite by strengthening our connective tissues."
While exercise can definitely be a reliable way to reduce visible cellulite, the more important point here is that there really is no need to ever feel like you have to reduce visible cellulite, or that you have to work out to look a certain way. There are so many physical, as well as mental benefits to exercise, like keeping your endorphins (and in turn, your mood) up, or strengthening your cardiovascular health and muscles, and those are the right reasons to commit to a workout routine, not because you feel like you should abide by societal standards of beauty.
4. You Can "Smooth Away" Visible Cellulite
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Ashley Black, a national bestselling author and inventor of the FasciaBlaster, explains that visible cellulite develops when fascia, aka the interconnected tissue layered beneath your skin, isn't equally distributed throughout the body, causing "dimples and puckered skin." "If the fascia is smooth and supple," Black says, "then the fat, and also the skin, will be smooth."
So, how, then, can you "smooth out" cellulite? By treating the fascia. One option would be to use Black's FasciaBlaster, which is an at-home tool used to massage (i.e. move around) the fascia, but things like dry brushing, getting regular massages, and foam rolling, Derocha adds, can also minimize the appearance of cellulite.
Keep in mind, these methods cannot and will not get rid of cellulite, and TBH, that shouldn't be the goal anyway. Cellulite is more or less an essential fat your body needs to thrive, but if you, personally, prefer to reduce the appearance of cellulite, then these strategies could be beneficial for you.
5. Only People Who Are Overweight Have Cellulite
Let's get one thing straight here: Cellulite is a form of subcutaneous fat, aka fat that lives under the skin, aka fat that is an essential part of the human body. Anyone can develop cellulite, and it all goes back to the state of your connective tissue beneath the skin.
"The reason fat has lumps and dimples is because of the condition of the fascia [aka the connective tissue] and the amount of fat," Black tells Elite Daily. "Obviously, if someone is leaner, there is less fat to protrude through the fascia, but [slim] women can still have [cellulite] if their fascia is unhealthy."
6. Cellulite Can Negatively Affect Your Health
According to Dr. Howard Sobel, of Sobel Skin, generally speaking, cellulite will not affect your health at all, because it's something that can be "self-diagnosed and self-treated through exercise, healthy eating, and in some cases, medical procedures," he tells Elite Daily. However, if someone has a lot of cellulite, and does not make these lifestyle changes in order to improve the state of their cellulite, that's when it can become a issue.
"The fat deposits can, over time, harden arteries and disrupt the body’s natural balance of hormones," Dr. Sobel says. "When the body is unbalanced, blood pressure, insulin, and cholesterol measures will rise and fall drastically, and potentially put the individual at risk of hospitalization and long-term health issues."
7. Cosmetic Creams And Laser Treatments Can "Cure" Cellulite
One of the most common myths about cellulite is that there's some sort of fantastical cream you can massage over the so-called "problem" area and, over time, the fatty cells will just magically disappear. Nope, sorry, that's not a thing! While topical products can certainly make you smell nice and make your skin smooth to the touch, there's no such thing as a "cure-all" for cellulite.
Dr. Robb Akridge, skincare expert and co-founder of Clarisonic, debunks this myth in an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, explaining that, from a cosmetic standpoint, creams can technically tighten the area of cellulite temporarily, but they "do not pull the fat in to reduce the dimples." In other words, they may make your skin feel tighter, but they won't actually eliminate cellulite altogether.
8. Visible Cellulite Is A Reflection Of Your Diet
Again, cellulite develops as a result of a combination of things, and even though diet alone isn't necessarily the deciding factor of whether or not you'll have visible cellulite, maintaining a well-balanced diet will certainly help you reduce inflammation that causes visible cellulite, as well as help you sustain a healthy weight overall.
Dr. Axe tells Elite Daily the best way to approach your diet when trying to reduce visible cellulite is to fill up on healthy foods, such as leafy greens that are high in fiber, hydrating veggies and fruits like "melon, berries, and cucumber," protein, and healthy fats from "coconut oil, nuts, and seeds." He also adds that "drinking lots of water is really important for reducing cellulite because it keeps skin hydrated and helps flush out toxins from your body."
While these types of eating habits are what doctors and experts will suggest if you're looking to reduce visible cellulite, none of these guidelines mean you have to abide by them, or that you have to worry about reducing the appearance of cellulite. Dr. Axe's suggestions to eat fresh produce and drink a lot of water are all healthy habits that will ultimately make you feel good physically, as well as mentally, so it's in your best interest to incorporate them into your daily diet for the wide range of benefits they provide for your body.
The bottom line here is that cellulite is natural, and as long as you feel good in your own skin, there's certainly no need to actively try, or feel like you have to actively try, to reduce its appearance on your body. The best and healthiest thing you can do is love your body for exactly what it is, with or without a little extra cellulite — because, honestly, it's NBD.