“Real women have curves.” Do elbows and knees count? Jokes aside, that’s a loaded, unchallenged statement, and it needs to be analyzed to expose its anti-feminist messages. At first glance, it seems harmless, but I’m going to tell you why I think it needs to be revised, and why this statement is a big “Glock You!” to women everywhere.
My opinion may not be commonly held, but sometimes it’s important to stand up for something you feel strongly about regardless if you have support or not.
The problem I have with the widely-accepted statement is that it makes a myriad of sweeping assumptions and commits the same crime it condemns. (Don’t worry. I’m going to unpack these thoughts and wrap them in red bows.)
We live in a weight-conscious world with sensationalist (not sensational) shows like The Biggest Loser and More to Love. Many women are unfortunately disappointed with the way they look and feel that they need to go on diets.
Sadly, these yo-yo, rollercoaster diets are nothing more than money-making schemes that prey upon the vulnerable and leave them feeling worse off.
“Real women have curves” is supposed to empower women to love their bodies in all their overweight glory even if they don’t resemble the rail-thin supermodels on the catwalk.
Most women in North America aren’t a size 2 like your typical model. I did some online research (and while there is some debate over the exact number), the most-commonly reported average is size 12.
While I’m all for bolstering the fragile ego, we are forgetting something here: some women are naturally thin, some are a size zero, some are scrawny, some are flat-chested, some have boyish hips, and yes, some are also suffering from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
But are they not all (real) women, too?
To shut out this important demographic is a slap in the face that rests on the assumption that women are to be defined merely by the shape of their bodies. And in this case, a ‘real woman’ must have boobage, hips, and a bootylicious behind.
People are often quick to make the following assumptions, too. Thin women:
- are generally healthier compared to those who are overweight
- hit the gym regularly
- count calories, watch what they eat, or have ‘issues with food’
Time to glock an assumption right now. Thin people aren’t necessarily healthier than bigger individuals. It’s more about proportion and lipid distribution. I’ve read about super-skinny people having loads of fat around their vital organs. And there are definitely a lot of larger people who don’t stuff their face and who do have very active lifestyles. You can’t necessarily extrapolate an individual’s health by the number on the bathroom scale alone unless you only consider extreme cases like the 50-lb. woman or the 1-ton man.
Having been slender my entire life, I have first-hand experience of people asking me how I stay slim. It’s pretty amusing when they find out that I don’t actually exercise as much as they think, and that I eat whatever I want whenever I want. To their dismay, they realize that my body type is due to my high metabolism and genetics.
And when people find out that I’m a vegetarian, fuck, they just have a field day with that! “Eat a hamburger to fatten yourself up”, “Plants have feelings, too”, or “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you like the taste of meat?” Then they attribute my thinness to vegetarianism and have a Eureka Moment that makes them feel smart for a few nanoseconds.
Not so fast, slugger.
I’ve been a vegetarian now for over two years, but I’ve been thin my whole life. Don’t believe me? I have my school pictures to prove it. (And just to get this out in the open, I loved eating meat…until I watched this documentary called Earthlings. Also, it’s funny, but I eat more now as a vegetarian than I ever did when I enjoyed meat. One more ball I’d like to hit out of the park is that vegetarians don’t actually just eat vegetables – we’d starve. But I suppose that’s another rant about misconceptions for another entry.)
Once a co-worker saw me going for my second slice of cake at the company potluck and said something like, “Where does all the food go to with those hollow legs?”
He wasn’t meaning to be rude, and it was actually his way of showing that he was impressed with how I could pack so much food into this tiny body without growing sideways, but still…it stung pretty badly. Nobody likes being called a toothpick just like he wouldn’t appreciate it if I likened him to Shamu or commented on his thunder thighs.
Why the double standard?
But I really hate it when people comment on my weight because it makes me feel very uncomfortable. I’m very self-conscious by nature. When I was a child, relatives (who I was never close with) would seem to make it a point to tell me at every single family gathering in front of everyone that I was skinny. They didn’t say it like it was a good thing – more like telling me that I was a bag of bones and Skeletor had company.
Commenting on someone’s weight is plain rude – unless you’re a doctor…well, then you’re allowed to do a lot of atypical things (like shoving a gloved finger up someone’s anus!). I’ve actually made it a point to never bring up someone’s weight unless a) they specifically ask me about it or b) it becomes a severe medical concern.
I sometimes wondered if my relatives ever thought about what they were saying and what kind of effect it would have on me later on in life. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so self-conscious about my weight if they learned to zip it on occasion.
Calling a thin person skinny can be equivalent to calling an overweight person fat. Nobody likes to be singled out for their weight – I certainly didn’t.
Alas, I digress. Going back to the “real women have curves” mantra: while it looks so nice and glossy on the surface by telling curvy gals to love what they look like, at the same time it’s ostracizing skinny and underweight women who may struggle with similar social and media pressures. Yet if we flip the coin and change the mantra to “real women are a size zero”, imagine the outcries that would follow – we’d be stoned to death by their scowls alone!
Writing a book on this topic would be all too easy – think volume 1 through 20! So I’m going to conclude here. We need to modify “real women have curves” to “real women have brains” because after everything we’ve done to fight for our rights, I believe that we should be judged (and commended!) on our intellect, wit, and skills rather than how easily we can zip up a tight Versace dress.