Real Women Have … Bodies

The other day, my friend shared this image on my Facebook wall. I’m sure she had good intentions, as did the creator. At first glance, it seems like a girl-power-feel-good-kind-of-message that challenges the pressure to be thin, similar to the “real women have curves” mantra made popular by the movie of the same name. It seems to be about women celebrating their curves, accepting their bodies, and not buying into the extreme dieting mentality.

But it’s not. This image is about shaming thin women about their bodies under the guise of empowering heavier women. It’s just the other side of the same coin.

What about women who are naturally thin? Or naturally not as curvy? Are they less hot? Are they not real women? Comparing is just one more way for us to separate ourselves.

Most of us struggle with our weight, so being in the public eye would most assuredly have an impact on how celebrities feel about their own bodies. Heidi Montag had 10 plastic surgeries so that she could look hot enough. Tabloid rumors have accused Nichole Ritchie and Keira Knightley of having eating disorders, and Kirsten Dunst was on the cover of Star Magazine for having one of the “worst beach bodies,” so it’s not as if any of them are being celebrated for their bodies at the moment. The media’s pretty arbitrary anyway about what constitutes the hot-kind-of-thin vs. the anorexic-kind-of-thin. It’s a fine line, and those celebrities who cross it are publicly shamed on tabloid covers.

I’m sure Bettie, Shirley, Elizabeth, and Marilyn faced their share of scrutiny and pressure as well based upon the beauty standards of their time. Elizabeth Taylor, for one, suffered from both eating disorders and substance abuse. Considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world, she was once quoted as saying, “I don’t like my voice. I don’t like the way I look. I don’t like the way I move. I don’t like the way I act. I mean, period. So, you know, I don’t like myself.”

Beauty is subjective. Others’ opinions about us are irrelevant — what matters most is how we see ourselves.

The body snarking, the gossipy headlines about who has anorexia or who’s getting fat, the who’s hotter comparisons — these all promote the age-old competition to determine the fairest of them all. And eating disorders are part of this futile attempt to fit what society deems “hot”.

There’s value in simply being who we are, whether we’re thin or fat or have curves or not. So, in response to the question: “When did this become hotter than this?”, here’s another question: Why do we have to cut someone else down to feel better about ourselves?

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4 Comments

  1. Posted January 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree, people who post things like this do have good intentions but they don’t realise that they judging women’s bodies all the same. We need to accept and appreciate all bodies shapes and sizes, not pick out what women should and should not be looking like.

    I am naturally slim, and I’ve hated my body since I was a child, yet people come up to me and tell me I’m too slim or I need to put some weight on. I’m perfectly healthy and not underweight yet people seem to think it’s okay to judge me for it.

    There is a new trend of “curvy” women like Christina Hendrix and Kelly Brook which I find are flung in my face at the moment in magazines and newspapers, saying how much they love their “curves” and being described as “real women”. Well that’s great, they love their bodies, but is a slimmer woman not a “real woman”?

    “Curvy” is just another unattainable and dangerous beauty ideal anyway. It usually means very slim waist yet big breasts and hips/bum. Monroe was actually not a big lady, she was extremely slim around the waist but had big breasts. Same with Kelly Brook and Hendrix, they don’t have fat tummies, they’re thin but have big breasts and hips. How is that a more healthy ideal than a slim woman who has no breasts and gets judged for not being “womanly” enough?

    All women are real women, their bodies should not be judged and used against them in any way, whether they’re “too thin” or “too fat” or thin or curvy, it up to nobody to judge and decide one body type is better than the other!!

    • Posted January 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Yes – you’re absolutely right. It’s crazy to say that women who look a certain way are “real women” while others are not.

      Just as it would be incredibly rude for a person to go up to a heavier woman and tell her she needs to go on a diet, it’s just as rude for people to judge a slimmer woman on her weight such as what happened to you. Your body is none of their business, no matter what your size!

      It’s absurd that certain body types can go in and out of fashion, as if we’re all able to jump from one body type to another depending on the season. Bell bottoms or skinny jeans can be given away when they go out of style – not so with big bottoms or skinny legs!

  2. Posted January 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    In order to feel good about our bodies we should never have to make somebody else feel bad about theirs. There is just no need for that. There is room for everybody to feel good about their bodies without cutting others down.

    • Posted January 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. And the dangerous part of comparing is that there could always be someone prettier or thinner or curvier right around the corner.

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