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Impossible Hourglass Figure

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"How'd you come up with the [bottle's] design?"
"It just came to me, from who knows where!"

"If she was real, with that teeny waist, and the top and the bottom, they would just fall over. [laughs] It's not possible!"
Richard Williams, animation director on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, talking about Jessica Rabbit.

A woman in comics or cartoons doesn't need to have a proper ribcage like a real actress does. Therefore, she can easily have a much narrower waist than would be possible with even the strictest of corsets — and usually without even wearing one! Not only is it shown as an unproblematic part of how she just happens to look, but she is supposed to be considered more attractive because of it.

This is based on the "hourglass figure" beauty ideal, where a woman is considered attractive if she has big breasts, a narrow waist, and wide hips. A narrow waist not only implies physical fitness but also makes the breasts look bigger and the hips look wider by comparison. The attainability of these proportions in real life depends a lot on personal genetics, but the medium of drawing allows an exaggerated archetype to be portrayed without the restraints of biology. A woman with an IHF is always designed to be attractive, even in the cases where she's not Ms. Fanservice or a Head-Turning Beauty: Monsters with insect-like narrow waists do not count, even if the shape reminds one of an hourglass.

The Spear Counterpart to this trope would be the classic male Bodybuilding "V-taper" or "X-frame": instead of big breasts, narrow waist, and wide hips, the ideal is to have broad shoulders and lats, a narrow waist and pelvis, and muscular quads with good outer "sweep". As with female anatomy, this ratio can be ludicrously exaggerated in cartoons. The cartoon bodybuilder or Hunk is often a Top-Heavy Guy, with a torso shaped like an upside-down triangle that seems to explode out of a tiny waist like a genie bursting out of the bottle.

For the garment which allows people who aren't blessed with a natural IHF to mold their bodies closer to the ideal, see Of Corsets Sexy and Of Corset Hurts. Male crossdressers, Transgender girls, or even cisgender girls who just feel too thin can also use Fake Boobs, and/or similar padding about the hips to help with this. Other tropes involve some of the same attributes but go for a different result. Noodle People don't just have thin waists, but their entire torsos as well as their limbs are elongated and thin. Hartman Hips is the term for when a narrow waist and wide hips are used to represent adult womanhood, but the bust is de-emphasized to avoid sexual connotations. Contrast Pettanko (which is what most Hollywood Thin women are without the help of padded bras or implants; the female breast is largely fat when not nursing). When other characters notice, they might say that she has Curves in All the Right Places.

Not to be confused with literally having an hourglass for a body.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Played straight with Ms. Carolina in the 2015 film Crayon Shin-chan: My Moving Story! Cactus Large Attack!. Her curvaceous figure causes Shinnosuke to become enamored with her.
  • Lust of Fullmetal Alchemist has a quite slim waist framed by voluptuous curves. Justified as she's a homunculus, not a human, and is the living embodiment of the sin she's named for.
  • One Piece:
    • Boa Hancock, Nico Robin, and Nami, for starters, or for that matter pretty much every single female in the entire universe who is not horrendously obese. One would get the idea that this is one of the author's many fancies.
    • An unverified rumor is that this is mostly due to Eiichiro Oda venting his horniness over his wife (who is a model) whom he married during the run of his manga, because most females at the beginning of the manga (including Nami) were simply thin, not curvy. In 2016, Oda admitted that his usual method of drawing women is "two circles and an X", with the X obviously being the waistline.
  • Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no Hahaoya: Many of the adult female demons are incredibly busty relative to their waist sizes, as emphasized by Lorem's loosely hanging t-shirt and Merii's snugly fitting sweaters. The few female demons who don't possess such a figure often suffer from A-Cup Angst, such as Valentine, or are just too young for it come up yet, like preteens Lizette and Dolores.
  • Rebuild World: While there are other busty girls in the slum city, Alpha stands out as being the most curvaceous character in the story, with enormous boobs, a tiny waist, and wide hips. Justified by her being an AI able to freely change her appearance via Augmented Reality and specifically choosing her form to appeal to Akira's tastes despite his apparent lack of interest in sex due to his age.
  • Played for Body Horror with Samara from 3×3 Eyes: due to bonding with Juuma (essentially, Mon-type creatures that feeds on the host' life energy but will fight for him) in spite of being a human, she ended up with a deformed body: her arms are now two actual Juuma, while her midsection is horribly dried up and thin compared to normal.
  • Kayoh from Pandemonium Wizard Village.

    Comic Books 
  • Madame Mirage was specifically designed in-universe to have this body type — her real identity is a small, athletic blonde with a body as flat as a board from every angle, so (with the help of hologram technology) she disguises as a tall, "impossibly-endowed brunette" based on her dead sister. It's also hinted that there's at least some degree of wish fulfillment behind the Madame Mirage persona's appearance.
  • Just about any female character drawn by Rob Liefeld will look like she has absolutely no organs in her lower torso, while also having the Most Common Superpower. It almost borders on parody until you realise that's just how he does art.
  • A Spider-Man cover depicting Mary Jane in an awkward pose has underwent Memetic Mutation for violating any sense of anatomy in the name of Male Gaze. Aside from her sitting pose, her midsection is so skinny it's a wonder her body manages to hold up those huge boobs. Black Cat gets a similar look.
  • Argentinian cartoonist Guillermo Divito popularized in the pages of magazine Rico Tipo a very specific kind of girl drawing known as "Divito Girls", which are archetypically of this body type. They even influenced the fashion of the time and are considered an early example of sexual revolution depictions in Argentina and Uruguay.

    Comic Strips 
  • All the women in Li'l Abner, except Mammy Yokum.

    Fan Works 
  • Becoming Female: When Harry becomes a girl, he's described as having large boobs, curves in all the right places, and a skinny waist. He actually lampshades it; Hermione responds by guessing that the potion turned him into "the ideal female form".
  • In Forbiden Fruit: The Tempation of Edward Cullen, Tiaa describes herself this way.
  • Willow from My Immortal is described as being "Thin enuff 2 b anorexic" but with "really big bobs"
  • Olga from The Night Unfurls is described by Kyril's P.O.V. to have "a voluptuous body covered by an elegant corset". Considering her design in Kuroinu canon (which encapsulates the entire package of big breasts, narrow waist, and wide hips), he is clearly understating her physical appearance.
  • The protagonist of many a Reader-Insert Fic has this figure, despite being supposedly a neutral stand-in for the reader.

    Fashion Design 
  • This Stella McCartney dress creates the optical illusion that the wearer has one of these.
  • Fashion from Victorian Britain seems to have been striving towards this at times, with all the corsets and hoop skirts and whatnot.note 
    • A popular trick on how the Victorians make the waist appear thinner in photographs is through warping or painting over the waist with the background color.
    • Dior's New Look replicated this look as well, it was claimed that Christian Dior found waistlines above 18 inches to be "disgusting".
  • Barbie is notorious for this. The reason this is under fashion design: the narrow waist is allegedly intended to compensate for the heavy seams in such small clothing. Whether this is actually true or not, around 2000 Mattel chose to switch to a wider waist design.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Along with Ariel, she has the most exaggerated figure of any Disney Princess or heroine. Bonus points for actually getting trapped in an hourglass.
      • Also the harem girls in "Friend Like Me", the belly dancer and the girls in "Prince Ali" ... let's just say there's a lot of pretty girls in sheer, low-cut fabric.
    • The Bimbettes trio from Beauty and the Beast are all big-breasted and tiny-waisted to a cartoony extent in comparison to Belle's more natural physique. This is also underscored by Belle being the most attractive woman in town despite lacking this figure.
    • Ariel from The Little Mermaid (1989) has a very slim hourglass figure, both as a mermaid and a human.
    • Four of the muses and Aphrodite, from Hercules, have waists so tiny they could probably wrap one hand around them. Oddly enough, Megara ends up with Hartman Hips, despite being the only female to make use of her womanly charms.
    • Mad Madame Mim sports this when she makes herself pretty in The Sword in the Stone.
    • Averted in Liloand Stitch and Moana.
  • Boys Night Out: Thanks to the cartoony art direction of the short, most of the woman in this short have thin waists, big boobs, and generous butts.
  • Coco: Justified with Dem Bones, seeing as they don't really have waists; it's practically standard for the Land of the Dead to have hilariously waspish dresses, cinched around their spinal columns.
  • Holli Would from Cool World.
  • Miss Forcible, in her youth, and the Other Miss Forcible from the film version of Coraline
  • The Wicked Stepmother Frieda and the kind, lovely, beautiful, comely, cute and pretty Ella from Happily N'Ever After.
  • Francesca from Mad Monster Party?.
  • Sita from Sita Sings the Blues.
  • Lola Bunny from Space Jam has a waistline with less circumference than either thigh, sandwiched between wide hips and enough bustline to send The Nostalgia Critic into histrionics. She's perfectly aware of this, always garbed in a midriff-baring outfit, and flaunting her Sexy Silhouette during the Tune Squad introductions.
    Announcer: At small forward, standing a scintillating three foot two, the heartthrob of the hoops: Lola Bunny!
  • Both main female characters, Maria and La Muerte from The Book of Life.
  • The famous unfinished animated film The Thief and the Cobbler provides a pretty remarkable example with Princess Yum-Yum.
  • Mrs. Toad from Thumbelina who has huge Non-Mammal Mammaries on top of a near nonexistent waist, and wide hips to match.
  • Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of the more famous and extreme cases of this trope. She was originally designed with more (relatively speaking) realistic proportions, but the creators decided that they wanted an unrealistic quality about her sexiness. She's a toon, after all.
  • The Princess in The True Story of Puss 'N Boots has this body type, complete with a large bust and wide hips. It doesn't really help that the human characters look somewhat realistic, thus making her look a little strange.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story: Cecilia’s mother (only shown in still pictures) sports such a figure when we first see her in a vacation photo; her huge breasts and hips are visibly straining in her tight bikini, and her waist is barely twice as wide as her neck. (The other pictures of her at the end of the film give her a less exaggerated character design, with a more normal-sized bust but keeping the tiny waist and Hartman Hips.)

  • Deconstructed in Body By Harmani. The woman had herself genetically altered to have a designer's body. One of the alternations involve this. Unfortunately, it's dangerous to her health since her internal organs are wedged in tight and she has to do constant exercises just to move at all.
  • In Bubble World, everyone on Bubble World has a perfect body, causing major shock for Freesia when she enters the real world and sees that not only does everyone seem fat, so does she.
  • In Little House on the Prairie, it's mentioned several times that when Laura's parents married, her father could span her mother's waist with his hands, thanks to her rigid regimen of waist training (see under Fashion Design). When Laura first hears this as a child, she's impressed, but later she comes to think it somewhat silly, pointing out that Pa still seems to like Ma an awful lot even though he can't span her waist with his hands anymore.
  • Sex Robots and Vegan Meat by Jenny Kleeman: the author visits the RealDoll sex doll factory, and notices that despite the wide variety of face type, skin tone and bust size, all of the dolls have the same tiny waist.
  • Under the Pendulum Sun: The Fae Queen Mab invokes this with one of her outfits, giving herself an inhumanly tiny waist that's corseted in black-and-gold and skirted in literal wasp wings.
    Mab: I read that a wasp waist is the very height of fashion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia actually deconstructs this trope. Dennis takes up fashion designing, and specifically designs his clothes for someone with an exaggerated hourglass figure. Of course, since no one in real life actually has one...
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", the women's version of "The Transformation" — a surgical procedure that every person undergoes to make them "beautiful" (and all exactly alike) — leaves them with this type of figure.

  • The Humorama digest line featured cartoon women drawn by Dan Decarlo and Bill Ward. Their women definitely fit this trope.

  • The woman standing next to Spock on the playfield for Bally's Star Trek pinball has a waist only slightly wider than her head.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The female characters from Kingdom Death have these proportions, most notably the pinup variants. It appears to be a trademark of the artist, Lokman Lam.

    Video Games 
  • If the player gets a Game Over during Banjo-Kazooie', they're shown a cutscene where Gruntilda successfully steals Tooty's beauty, turning herself into a beautiful woman while Tooty is turned into an ugly monster. In the game itself however, Gruntilda is one of the ugliest characters, with her abduction of Tootie being that she's far more beautiful that Gruntilda, and she plans to take that beauty for herself.
  • Barbie in Barbie Super Model has a perfect, impossible figure. Well, it is a Barbie game, after all.
  • The Dark Queen from Battletoads.
  • Vivi from Brain Dead 13. She has a massive bust (good enough to feature on a monster porno mag in a Freeze-Frame Bonus) a narrow waist, and hips for days if the Male Gaze directed at her is any indication.
  • Solange, the protagonist from Code of Princess.
  • Taldeer, Macha, and the unnamed Farseers in the first Dawn of War game. They are of the Eldar race.
  • Most of the female characters from the Beat Em' Up Dancin' Divas, especially the playable character Viva, being a Jessica Rabbit Expy.
  • Candy Kong is noticeably the only Kong with this body type, bordering right into Fanservice.
  • Jessica Albert in Dragon Quest VIII. Ditto for the elf maiden Rajah and the Witch-type enemies.
  • The Sorceress from Dragon's Crown is the shapeliest of the three female playable characters.
  • The beautiful Queen of Tumblers Salina from Drakensang.
  • The F-Zero series has two: Mrs. Arrow (debuting in X) and Princia Ramode (GX/AX).
  • The weapons select screen for Mass Effect 3 reveal that quarian women don't have Hartman Hips, but have this instead; Tali's hips are not significantly wider than Fem!Shep's or any other female squadmate's hips, but her hourglass figure is much narrower.
  • MediEvil 2: Kiya. The manual of the game has a bit of fun with it by pointing out that while Kiya doesn't exactly like undeath, she cheered up a bit when she noticed that having all her organs removed did wonders for her shape.
  • Mind Your Manors's third boss, to the extreme; she's literally an outline of a shapely woman with no features aside from an alluring smile. The secret ending reveals she had such a figure when alive too.
  • Both Ringford Queen Elfaria and Queen Odette from Odin Sphere have pencil thin waists sandwiched in between huge breasts and wide hips. In Queen Odette's case it makes sense considering aside from the breasts she is literately just skin and bone.
  • Betilla and the rest of the nymph sisters of Rayman Origins surely fit this trope. Fortunately they've got wings, otherwise they'd probably snap right in half.
  • All the main girls of Roommates have extremely slim waists, slim-to-moderately-curvy hips, and enormous breasts. Exactly how thin their waists are varies, from Sally and Isabella being Hollywood Thin to Anne being downright anorexic everywhere but her chest. Your Hollywood Pudgy classmate Carmen is the only one whose body even begins to look like it ought to have such a large bra size, but she's only a minor character.
  • Betty from Scrapland is an extreme example of this
  • Most females from the Shantae series, including the titular protagonist: Shantae (2002), Shantae: Risky's Revenge, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, Shantae and the Seven Sirens.
  • The girls in the Game Boy Color version of Xtreme Sports also have these (including Guppi, one of the deuteragonists), which goes to show how much WayForward loves them.
  • Aeon from Skullgirls takes this trope to extreme levels where her midsection is literally a hourglass.
  • Ninja and their variants from Sonic Frontiers take this to an extreme, with waists thinner than their heads accentuated by Hartman Hips.
  • Valentina from Super Mario RPG, who has about the same proportions as her martini glass she's always carrying and is one of the few Mario characters with noticeable breasts.
  • Morgan LeFlay from Tales of Monkey Island.
  • Veran from The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna's true form also seems to qualify. Although, upon closer inspection it's not so much an extremely thin waist as it is her very tall frame, particularly wide hips and sizable bust. This is even more noticeable in Hyrule Warriors primarily thanks to the improved graphics.
  • Almost everyone, in The World Ends with You has a pretty thin physique. Yes, even the some of the boys, including the main protagonist Neku.
    • It only becomes even more noticeable when the main cast appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]. Though still heavily stylized, Sora and Riku's proportions aren't nearly as extreme, making Neku and some of his friends look downright anorexic. It's arguably even weirder considering the characters for both games were designed by the the same guy.
  • Lara Croft in the early installments of the Tomb Raider franchise had a waist slightly thinner than her head and half the width of her waist with large breast to match. Later installments have been progressively averting this trope by widening her waist and shrinking her breasts. Since Tomb Raider: Underworld, she now has a realistic hourglass figure.
  • Suzy from Tonic Trouble.
  • Carmelita Fox from Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has a really thin waist compared to her appearances in the previous Sly Cooper games.
  • Belladonna is a story of a woman who woke up part machine on an operating table. She comments on her figure and wonders what organs if any are left in her.

    Web Animation 
  • Various vtubers have figures like these, but the queen of them all is most likely Saa. She has large breasts and incredibly broad hips, the latter being especially massive. Saa herself is gleefully aware of her figure and happily draws attention to them. She later updated her model to make her hips even wider to the point of ridiculousness.
  • Martha, IMP's target in the Helluva Boss episode "Murder Family". This might be why, even though she's married and her home decor is littered with signs of her and her family being a Cannibal Clan, she doesn't seem to have trouble finding sexual partners.


    Web Original 
  • This picture from Wikipedia. It's called "Condition of Cut-in Waist".
  • Escher Girls posts and mocks some pretty jarring examples of this or illustrations with just the impossibly small waists. Most of the works do this in spite of having an otherwise realistic art-style.

    Western Animation 
  • Hello Nurse from Animaniacs. Parodied in Wakko's Wish where she designs a bottle for Scratchansniff's elixir that is said to be popular because of its more attractive shape. The bottle happens to have a shape similar to Hello Nurse's curvaceous figure as seen on the picture above.
    • Most women in the show that would be considered attractive had tiny waists.
  • Black Widow from Avengers Assemble especially in season 2. Zarda also counts as well during her close ups.
  • Harley Quinn in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode where she dresses like a flapper.
  • Betty Boop was described in a 1934 court case as: "combin[ing] in appearance the childish with the sophisticated — a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body of which perhaps the leading characteristic is the most self-confident little bust imaginable.".
  • Clarice from the Chip 'n Dale classic cartoons managed to get away with both having generous hips and an ample bosom, and little in between.
  • Elise from Dan Vs..
  • Danny Phantom has Maddie Fenton, who has a large bust and hips to hold up a narrow waist, and Desiree, who has the largest bust-waist-hip ratio of the entire show.
  • Morgana Macawber from Darkwing Duck.
  • Virtually every female in the DC Animated Universe. Bruce Timm clearly loves him some hourglass curves. Some examples:
    • In this episode of Justice League, Barda's figure is pretty unrealistic. (Of course, she isn't human, as many fans soon forget.)
    • Plastique's waist in JLU episode "Task Force X" is so ridiculously narrow that she can wear a 1-2 inch thick fake skin over it to hide her plastic explosives for the mission, and her waist still looks slim.
  • Dennis' mother, Alice Mitchell, from Dennis the Menace.
  • Panty the Panther from El Arca.
  • Princess Mandie from The Fairly OddParents!.
    • Vicky gets one in "Channel Chasers" when she uses Timmy's magic TV remote to age herself to 18 years old.
  • Princess Aura from The New Adventures of Flash Gordon.
  • Turanga Leela from Futurama. She's even been described as having 36-24-36 body measurements, the supposed "perfect" female body.
  • Pete's wife and Pistol and PJ's mother, Peg from Goof Troop is probably among the curviest females in Disney history, with hips wider than her shoulders and a bust that, whilst not as wide as her hips, still exceeds her shoulders.
  • Cousin Mel from Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. She's got quite a curvy figure and is very buxom (which is probably the only reason the cartoon is remembered), which adds well to the fanservice. I. M. Slime has quite the figure also, just not to Cousin Mel's extreme.
  • Miss Information and Lydia Karaoke from Histeria!.
  • Jez from Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Kaeloo: The women in men's magazines on the show have extremely narrow waists when compared to the rest of their body proportions.
  • Certain female characters from Kim Possible. Notably, Shego and Bonnie Rockwaller as the most prominent examples among recurring characters.
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon, "A Star is Hatched" has a quick scene of a caricature of Mae West coming out of a dressing room door shaped like hourglass that matches her figure.
  • Wilhamena, Enid's mother, in OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Vanessa. She's the only female non-adult character in the show with serious curves and her outfit hugs them tightly.
    • All the background dancer in Doof's musical.
    • When Candace is shown as an adult, her figure has gone from literally pencil-straight to improbable hourglass. The mother of three has Hartman Hips naturally enough, but unnaturally has a thinner waist than her much lighter teenage self.
  • Marci McFist in Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja has a very slim waist supported with a large bust and equally large hips.
  • Angelina Kerplopolis-Awesome, mother of Les Awesome and Thera Kerplopolis-Awesome, from Rated "A" for Awesome.
  • Charlotte Pickles from Rugrats appears to be the most conventionally attractive woman of the show.
  • One episode of Samurai Jack featured the Sirens. You know you have a winner when you realize that even their arms are thicker than their waists!
  • Anita Knight and nearly all of the female characters from The Secret Show waists are basically non-existent.
  • Kimmy from Sym-Bionic Titan. She's got plenty of curves and evidently likes to show them off.
  • "Red" (or "Lou") from Tex Avery's cartoons.
  • Eris from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Justified because she's a goddess.
  • Miss Sara Bellum and Sedusa from The Powerpuff Girls (1998).
  • Trudy Proud from The Proud Family. Also Suga Mama on one episode when she lost weight before her wedding.
  • Agent K in The Replacements, in spite of her more angular design, is built with curves, with a skinny waist to correspond to her large bust with an equally large backside to match.
  • Virtually every girl on Total Drama, especially Lindsay. In fact it's easier to list the one's who aren't: Beth, Leshawna, Sadie, Jo, Staci, Sugar, Millie and Emma. Lindsay, however, is apparently, the most attractive female character on the show.
  • The entire Winx Club. They have really wide hips supported by narrow waists. Their hips get even wider from seasons 5 onward, when the show Art Shifted to Flash animation.
    • Some older characters like Faragonda have thinner waists too, only it's not as exaggerated as the younger characters.

Alternative Title(s): Hourglass Hottie