While your butt size is largely determined by genetics, which dictate where you store fat, science provides plenty of reasons to L-O-V-E every inch of whatever your momma gave you, according to Pamela M. Peeke, M.D., a physician and spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine. (And if you're on Team Tiny Tush? You can always strengthen your glutes to reap some of the benefits.)
1. Butt fat is relatively harmless, health-wise. Unlike excess white fat in the gut, which surrounds organs and can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, and disease, big butts are full of subcutaneous yellow fat, which is benign in that area, Dr. Peeke explains.
2. It makes you biologically more attractive. Some evolutionary psychologists believe that men prefer women with fuller butts because it enhances the appearance of the curvature of the spine, according to a recent study published in Evolution and Human Behavior. From an evolutionary standpoint, this is a Very Desirable Trait: A curved spine can alleviate spinal pressure and related injury during pregnancy, which supports mobility to forage food for yourself until the baby arrives.
3. You're more intuitive than women with smaller butts. Studies suggest that women, who are generally more empathetic than men, become especially attuned to people's feelings around the same time they develop curves at puberty. Evolutionary theorists think there could be some connection between emotional intelligence and butt size. Because shapely women who have the largest butts and smallest waists appeal to so many men, they needed to develop superior social skills to assess and select potential mates.
4. You can climb steps like a boss. Scaling a staircase requires an orchestrated effort involving most muscles below the waist—including the gluteus maximus, which is the biggest one. That makes climbing steps a total bitch for anyone with a flat, weak backside (unless they have super strong legs).
5. Hunger doesn't seriously faze you. Yes, big-bottomed women can reserve the right to be hangry. But if you're too sick to eat, too busy at work to break for lunch, or even stuck on a desert island, the extra fat stored in a big butt can serve as fuel. It's like a backup meal that can help you survive emergencies.
6. It can protect your lower back. When your butt is too weak to propel your legs forward as you walk, smaller muscles end up kicking in to help, Dr. Peeke explains. This can lead to strains in your back, hips, knees, and other places.
7. Your butt can make pregnancy a liiiittle bit easier. While fuller buns won't make labor a walk in the park, a big butt can help you stay mobile during pregnancy by balancing the increasingly heavy weight of your baby belly, which can put tremendous strain on your spine.
8. Big butts promote proper posture. Tight hips, an inevitable result of excessive sitting, can make it difficult for you to stand up straight, Dr. Peeke explains. But a strong butt can help lengthen your hip flexors and keep everything in alignment, which alleviates pain (and stops you from looking like a slump).
9. Big booties breed smarter kids. Butt and thigh fat stores special omega-3 fatty acids. Some scientists believe that when you breastfeed, your body taps those stores to enhance your breast milk. Because babies need this particular kind of fat for brain, nervous system, and eye development, some biologists think that a bigger butt could translate to brighter kids.
10. A big butt is like a drug. The sight of a large woman's butt activates the reward regions of the male brain that are otherwise activated by drugs, alcohol, and food, according to a study published in PLoS ONE in which researchers monitored brain response to photos of women before and after butt enhancement surgery.
11. You're less likely to have dangerous cholesterol levels. When researchers looked into butt fat (measured by thigh or hip circumference), they linked it to healthier cholesterol levels, which mean a lower risk of chronic illness down the line. Women with bigger butts and smaller waists tend to have higher levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind that helps keep your arteries clear) and lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind that blocks arteries).
12. It can streamline your silhouette. People with small, weak butts often end up tilting their hips forward and sticking the tailbone out, which pushes the belly forward to give you the illusion of a gut. A strong butt can help correct the overextension of your spine so you default to tucking your hips underneath your body and maintain an all-around leaner look.
13. Diabetes probably won't mess with you. The bigger your waist-to-hip ratio (i.e., the smaller your waist and bigger your hips), the lower your risk of developing type-2 diabetes, according to an International Journal of Obesity study.
14. It's like a helmet for your hamstrings! The muscles that run down the back of your thighs are particularly prone to injury, Dr. Peeke says. But a strong butt can protect the hamstrings by helping out with movements that engage the under-thigh area, like lifting something heavy from the ground.
15. You have a built-in cushion! You seriously don't want to fall on a flat butt: Gruesome bruising aside, you could end up with a stress fracture in your sit or pelvic bones, Dr. Peeke says. But a big butt can pad the blow so you can get right back on your feet.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.