If you said “curves,” you’re on the same page as quite a few advertisers and body activists these days. But what exactly makes a woman “real?”
As far as I know, we are not living in some Matrix-Inception-esque world of illusions and fake people. Therefore, it stands to reason that all women are “real women.”
The idea that one particular body type is the only legitimate one needs to end. This is the same as the generally accepted belief that thin is best, reversed. We don’t need to change the shape of the ideal female body. We need to recognize that women come in all shapes and sizes. My waist to hip ratio, bodacious as it may be, does not make me a woman. I have two X chromosomes. Therefore, biologically, I am a woman regardless of my weight or dimensions. I will not delve into trans-gender issues here, but please know that I believe it is each person’s right to live as she would like in her own body.
The idea of a “real woman” puts women into a restrictive box. You must look a certain way and be a certain way and like certain things or you are a phony, lesser than, unacceptable.
Walking by Lane Bryant recently, a store I used to frequent that caters to plus size women, I noticed a poster that offended me quite a bit. It looked something like this:
I suppose that according to Lane Bryant, I used to be a “real woman” but no longer am. I wear a size 10. Lane Bryant starts at size 14 (and a generous size 14 at that, I might add). I wonder if I was even more “real” at size 22? Or is there a limit to this curvy real-ness? Are women between size 14 and 18 real? How about size 20? What about size 12? Exactly what does my waist measurement need to be in order for me to be real?
I understand being excluded by a world that glorifies extreme thinness. I know that the great majority of adult women are not meant to inhabit bodies with 4 inches of space between the thighs and visible rib-cages. I know this is simple backlash against that ideal. But it is really just more of the same: passing judgment on women solely based on what we look like.
Sometimes, the “real woman” line is used as a defense of obesity. I know this is a somewhat controversial thing to say, but there is a huge difference between a few extra pounds or even a healthy weight and morbid obesity. Somehow, we seem to have lumped everyone with 10-200 pounds of extra body weight into the same category. I myself used to say things like “real women have curves” as a defense against those who said I should lose weight. But I was over 100 pounds overweight. I did need to lose weight. I just didn’t need anyone berating me about it. The curves defense was a weak and false one.
We need to stop judging each other and ourselves based on our body size. It is no better to say “Ugh, she’s too thin, how gross!” than it is to say “Ugh, she’s so fat, how repulsive.”
Let’s drop the “real” adjective. It’s redundant. Let’s just be women. Our true value does not lie in our outward appearance, but in our minds, our hearts, and our contributions to the world.