This article investigates whether certain animacy effects are an artifact of syntactic weight (because statistically, animate referents tend to be short) or whether animacy is an independent variable in grammatical variation. The empirical domain of investigation is a case of grammatical variation in the noun phrase, specifically, English genitive variation. Data from a corpus study as well as the results of an experimental study are brought forward, showing that animacy and weight are independent factors. These data are further supported by typological evidence. Moreover, the analysis of the interaction of animacy and weight provides evidence that animacy can even dominate weight up to a certain cut-off point. Finally, it is argued that animacy is a processing factor influencing grammatical variation, just as weight is.