One plausible explanation -which also explains why very few men suffer from cellulite- is based on the composition and behavior of woman's fat cells and the connective tissue that holds them in place. Very simply, a woman's connective tissue is very inflexible, so as females gain weight their fat cells expand, and tend to bulge upwards towards the surface of the skin, giving the classic orange-peel appearance of cellulite. Women also have an additional layer of fat for child bearing purpose. In men, not only is there generally less fat on the thighs, but also the outer skin is thicker and thus obscures what is happening to any surplus fat below.
Hormones play a dominant role in the formation of cellulite. Estrogen is the most important hormone. It seems to initiate and aggravate cellulite. Other hormones including insulin, the catecholamines adrenaline and noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin have all been shown to participate in the development of cellulite.
Diet has been shown to affect the development and amount of cellulite. Excessive amounts of fat, carbohydrates, salt, or too little fiber can all contribute to increased cellulite. This also includes the accumulation of toxins built up between the fat cells.
Smoking, lack of exercise, fatty/starchy foods, and sitting or standing in a single position for long periods have all been correlated with an increase in cellulite. A high stress lifestyle will cause an increase in the catecholamine hormones.