How Rare Is a 21-Inch Waist?

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: February 4, 2023

Many people consider a super small waist to be a desirable trait for females. Moreover, a slim waistline helps create the hourglass figure attributed to subjectively pretty women.

Specifically, some women target a 22-inch or even a 21-inch waist. But how small is too small when it comes to setting realistic body expectations?

21 Inch Waist Woman

What is a 21-Inch Waist?

A 21-inch waist is a circumference measurement around the abdomen. And you can use this number for everything from buying clothing to assessing your risk for health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

But it’s critical to measure your waist correctly to know the actual circumference.

How to Measure Your Waist

To check your waist size, you will need a flexible tape measure. First, wrap the tape measure around your waist parallel to the floor just above your hip bone.

Now pull the tape snug but not so tight that it indents into your skin. Also, take the reading at the end of a normal exhale but do not suck in your stomach. The number where the end of the tape intersects is your waist size.

21 Inch Waist Measurement

Is a 21-Inch Waist Healthy?

Generally speaking, a 21-inch waist is extremely small, which could be good or bad. On one hand, it means you probably have very little abdominal fat, which is healthy. But it could also indicate you are underweight for your height.

Therefore, having a tiny waist doesn’t automatically make you healthy. And it would be best if you also considered other diet and lifestyle factors.

How Rare Is a 21-Inch Waist?

The likelihood of a 21-inch waist depends on your body shape and overall fitness. For example, a 21-inch waistline is more plausible for women with a smaller frame who exercise regularly.

For males, it’s basically impossible except for young children. To illustrate, let’s look at some waist size statistics for men and women.

21-Inch Waist for Women

The average waist size for American women is 35.6 inches. That means a 21-inch waist is more than 40% smaller than usual. And your waist would be smaller than 99.99% of the average female population.

However, it’s important to remember that 3 out of 4 adult women in the US are overweight or obese. So does that mean a 21-inch waist is more attainable among a fit population?

A survey of women in the US Army, who are generally more fit, shows that their average waist size is 28.2 inches. And a 21-inch waist would still put you well below the 1st percentile.

In fact, out of 2,208 women measured for this survey, the minimum waist circumference was 22.36″. That means a 21-inch waist is still smaller than at least 99.95% of athletic women.

Table 1. 21 Inch Waist for Women

  Normal Fitness
1st 25.4 23.9
5th 27.8 25.1
10th 28.9 25.7
15th 30.0 26.1
20th 30.7 26.5
25th 31.6 26.8
40th 33.9 27.7
50th 35.6 28.2
60th 37.2 28.9
75th 40.3 30.0
80th 41.5 30.5
85th 42.8 31.1
90th 44.7 31.9
95th 47.6 33.2
99th 53.8 35.8

21-Inch Waist for Men

If fewer than 1 in every 2,200 women has a 21-inch waist, then it must be almost impossible for adult men. Especially considering the average waist size for an American man is 38.2 inches!

Even among military men, the average waist size is 32.8 inches. And the smallest waist size measured out of 1,774 males was 25.47″. So that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin for a man with a 21-inch waist.

Table 2. 21 Inch Waist for Men

  Normal Fitness
1st 27.8 27.5
5th 30.0 28.7
10th 31.6 29.5
15th 32.8 30.0
20th 33.9 30.5
25th 34.8 31.0
40th 36.9 32.1
50th 38.2 32.8
60th 39.6 33.6
75th 42.2 35.0
80th 43.4 35.5
85th 44.8 36.2
90th 46.4 37.0
95th 49.5 38.2
99th 56.2 40.5

21 Inch Waist FAQ

Now you know how rare a 21-inch waist is for men and women. But you might have more questions about this topic. So here are some quick answers to common queries.

What size is a 21-inch waist?

A 21-inch waist doesn’t really conform to the normal size ranges for women’s clothing. But the closest would be a US dress size of 00, about 28 in Euro sizes.

Additionally, this waist circumference should put you in an international size XXS for women’s clothing.

What pants size is a 21-inch waist?

A waist size of 21 inches would most likely correspond to a pant size of 20-21 for women. But, with a 21-inch waist, you would probably have difficulty finding pants that fit.

Also, your jeans size doesn’t always reflect your actual waist size. One reason for this is that the measurement site for waist circumference may be smaller than the circumference around your hips at your beltline.

In addition, your actual waist size may not reflect your pant size due to your body proportions. For instance, you may need to size up if you have relatively thick thighs or a bigger butt.

23 Inch Waist Female

Is a 21-inch waist attainable?

For women, a 21-inch waist is about 14.6″ smaller than average. So this would probably be an unrealistic target if you’re starting from average size and weight.

At the same time, a waist size of 21 inches is not unheard of among women who exercise regularly. So if your goal is to be in elite shape, this waist measurement is at least plausible.

However, whether you could actually achieve it also depends on your body type and height. For instance, a 21″ waist would be more feasible for a petite or naturally thin woman.

Does Waist Training Work?

Videos and images of tiny-waisted models might make you think that “waist training” is the secret to an hourglass figure. This trend involves wearing corsets, slimming garments, or sweat belts to reduce your waistline.

But do these tricks really work, or is it just a clever marketing ploy to sell garments and goops? Check out my in-depth review of the Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer to find out if it’s worth your time and money!

21 Inch Waist Trimmer

Waist Size and Body Type

Your waist circumference can be affected by your body type. For example, the ectomorph body type has straighter lines and a naturally smaller waist. By comparison, the endomorph body type has more curves and a thicker waist.

As a result, it’s vital to use specific diet and workout strategies to reduce your waist size based on your body type.

Next Step: Take My Free Body Type Quiz

23 Inch Waist Body Type

More Body Size Statistics

If you found this waist size information useful, you’ll definitely be interested in these related body measurement articles.

How to Measure Arm Size

Average Wrist Size for Men & Women

Average Neck Size & Health Implications

20 Inch Thighs for Men & Women

20 Inch Thighs

Check out these additional articles for even more helpful tips on nutrition, supplements, and workouts to reach your fitness goals faster.

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

By |February 4, 2023|Bodybuilding|0 Comments
Go to Top