Weight-related News

Real Women Have…

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.

4 thoughts on “Real Women Have…

  1. Although, as always, I find your analysis of the modern social world that we leave in quite fine tuned, today I feel you overlooked the real “problem” if you want to call it that way.

    No one, and I’m talking about people (or persons if you prefer), is telling you (or will tell you) that a real woman has an specific shape or size. Those that do that are “advertisers”. And those are not people (at least not by my definition).

    Since at the beginning of the 19th century the companies realized that telling people what to eat, drink, wear, drive… in fancy ways helped sell stuff. And we have created our complete modern society around that concept: advertising. Even capitalism is (from my personal view) a consequence of the power of advertising.

    After more that 100 years of this we are used to be lied constantly. They call it selling, but it’s simply a lie. A bad, and horrible lie that we tell our children they shouldn’t do just before we sit them before the tv and let them be lied to their small faces.

    Everything is ok to sell stuff. So, depending on what you sell the “real woman” will be think, fat, short, tall, curvy or flat. It doesn’t matter. The only important thing is to get your demographic to buy your products… For goods sake. Even the doctors have patented the best way of loosing weight!

    So don’t take it personally. The advertisers aren’t telling you that you are not a “real woman” because those messages aren’t meant for you (today you are not their demographic anymore). Or at least you can’t feel more offended that when a beer commercial says you have to be a social animal to drink or… well you can choose your favorites.

    My real concern is that this is new in the history of humans and I can’t foresee how would it end. But knowing how the humans usually achieve evolution it probably will end very badly…

    Great reading you, as always.

    ps. I hope my message doesn’t get lost in my poor Spanish-born-English-grammar…

    1. I completely agree with you. It is all about selling stuff and the easiest way to make someone buy a product is to convince them they are inadequate just the way they are and that your product can “fix” them.

      But it isn’t just advertisers anymore. People have swallowed these messages so completely that now mothers feed the feelings of inadequacy to their daughters and one woman berates another woman who she considers a friend. The message that was intended as a sales tool is now wholeheartedly adopted by the masses, and the scariest part is that many don’t even realize it.

      The mother who makes her daughter feel like she isn’t good enough has nothing to sell. But she fears that her daughter will not be accepted unless she conforms, because she has been fed these messages her entire life and she believes them. But the real truth is, conformity out of a sense of fear can only bring unhappiness. In seeking contentment from fitting into these “ideal” images, there can be only disappointment.

      I am also offended by the beer ads, btw 😉

  2. I take the phrase “real women” to mean all women before airbrushing. The women we see in ads today are airbrushed until they have no “curves”. As for curves, I take it to include even very thin women (just not airbrushed images).

  3. Thanks for sticking up for thin women too. I grew up skinny in the 80s when curves were in and Cindy Crawford was the ideal. I hated to hear “real women have curves”. Talk about mixed messages for a young girl. The media was telling me it was good to be curvy and my poor mother (who’d always fought her weight) was obsessed with my body, pointing me out to everyone in ear shot, saying stuff like, “She’s a size zero! Can you even imagine??! We can’t find pants to fit her she’s so skinny. Isn’t it great?!” Actually, no, Mom… it’s not.

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