One lady most certainly of the opinion that men prefer curves is Mikel Ruffinelli, a 420-pound mother of four who measures a staggering eight-foot in circumference.
At just five-foot-four, 39-year-old Mikel, who lives in Los Angeles, is substantially wider than she is tall, but says she wouldn’t want it any other way.
‘I love my shape and I see no reason to diet because I don’t have health problems,’ explains Mikel, has a proportionally small 40-inch waist. ‘Men don’t fancy skinny girls, they like an hourglass figure.’
Living large: Mikel is a size 30 and earns $1,000 per shoot modelling for a Big Beautiful Women website
While the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Beyonce will probably all agree, they don’t have to face the kind of challenges that Mikel does on a daily basis.
As well as having to walk through most doors sideways, Mikel drives a truck because she can’t fit into a car. At home, the woman with the widest hips in the world has to sit in steel-supported chairs and sleeps on a 7ft-wide bed.
Mikel’s biggest fan is her husband, Reggie Brooks, a 40-year-old computer technician. They’ve been married 10 years and Mikel says that he finds her unusual shape sexy and tells her every day just how beautiful she is.
Mikel hasn’t always been plus-sized, as a teenager she was quite athletic and weighed 140-pounds although she did have big hips – a trait she says that runs in her family.
At 22, Mikel had her first child, Andrew, now 19, from a previous relationship, and that is when she started gaining the weight. From 182-pounds and a size 14, she piled on the pounds until she was 238-pounds and a size 18.
Then she meet Reggie and over the next decade had three more children: Destynee, 13, Autumn, nine, and Justyce, seven. Her hips ballooned as she reached 420 pounds and a size 30.
‘I put it down to my pregnancies. I don’t see why else the weight would go to my hips, although, I do eat lots,’ she told Closer.
Mikel, who is studying for a psychology degree, has a healthy appetite and typically consumes 3,000 calories a day.
‘It sounds like a lot to have 3,000 calories, but for someone my size, it’s not really.
‘I might have a breakfast of two eggs with sausage and bacon and a handful of potatoes. Lunch is fried fish and French fries, but dinner’s my big meal,’ she confesses.
Hourglass figure: Mikel says she is comfortable with her shape and that ‘men don’t fancy skinny girls’
‘I like to make barbecue chicken with rice or mash. I have a big portion – but I’m not greedy. I snack on peanuts, granola bars and crisps.’
As she has gotten older Mikel says she had grown more comfortable with her shape and size.
‘In the past, I was self-conscious about my hips and tried milkshake diets, but they didn’t work. As I got older, I learned to love my body and now I’m not afraid to show it off.’
Over the past five years as her confidence has grown she has taken to modelling for a Big Beautiful Women website and earns up to $1000 per shoot.
She says: ‘I mostly wear lingerie. I have two seamstresses who make my outfits, although I can easily find clothes for my top half, it’s the bottoms that are a problem.’
Mikel also makes an effort to be healthy and while running on land is problematic, she enjoys water aerobics.
Over the years Mikel has grown accustomed to people staring and making sarcastic comments, but has learned to just ignore them.
‘I don’t want to get bigger, but I don’t want to lose my curves. I look great. I hope I inspire women to think, “She’s happy with her body and I can be too!”‘