Lots of very well-meaning people, when they find out what I do for a living, say something to the effect of:
“Right on! Real women have curves!”
I know they mean well. They’re saying that women’s bodies are more curvaceous than the emaciated bodies that are often held as an ideal by the media. But the whole concept drives me bonkers. And if it hasn’t driven you bonkers yet, let me explain why it drives me bonkers and you may end up agreeing with me.
1) Women Are Women, Curvy Or Not — Women’s bodies (just like men’s bodies) come in a diverse range of shapes. There are plenty of curvy thin women and curvy fat women, not curvy thin women and not curvy fat women. There are plenty of fat women with proportionately small hips and proportionately big hips. There are plenty of thin women with the same. Same for breasts. Same for everything. There are also some men with bigger hips and smaller hips and bigger breasts and smaller breasts. In other words, there are plenty of “real women” who are not f-ing curvy and are still quite real, and sometimes even, quite fat.
2) What The Heck Is A Real Woman, And Why Should We Care? — Personally, I think that anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman. I don’t really care if she has curves or a vulva or whatever. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you probably don’t care too much about it either. But aside from that, does it help anything to refer to larger women as “real”? Does that make thin women fake? Or not really women? Uch. See item #4.
3) Can We Just Say FAT For Once? — I personally hate the curvy euphemism. I hate it more than most others, like large or even plus-size (though I agree with Queen Latifah that plus-size should be buried). Curviness has way more to do with chest/waist/hip ratio than anything else, and I think fixating on those measurements have been keeping women down for decades.
4) Relegating Thin Women To A Lesser Status Isn’t Helpful — I realize that bigger women have been put down, discriminated against, considered non-ideal, and worse, and that is really, really wrong and needs to change. But I don’t think the way to create that change is to try to prove that bigger is better. How about we just start to see that bigger is great, too. We don’t have to relegate ourselves to a scarcity model of beauty and “realness” belong to only a select few. Perhaps one doesn’t have to be better than the other. Perhaps we can see that there’s a thing called body diversity, that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and that attraction is viable among people of varying weights.
So, yes, real women have curves, and don’t have curves, and whatever, at least that’s what I think. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!
Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. is a certified holistic health counselor who specializes in transforming your relationship with food and your body. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/stay-in-touch/ to sign up for her newsletter and get your free download — Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!
9 replies on “Real Women Have Curves, And Don’t Have Curves, And Have A Few Curves, And Whatever”
Thanks for this! As a thin woman with high metabolism and no butt, I’ve often felt excluded from the “real woman” conversation of dieting and body image. I’m happy with my body, but in some circumstances it seems like other women don’t want me to be – or don’t really consider me fully human, let alone fully woman.
This. On top of that, thin women often have very real body issues as well but often those body issues are scoffed at or dismissed. I read a supposedly ‘feminist’ blog post about ‘skinny bitches’ and how they’re not ever really feminists because they’re subscribing to the body image that we’re held to but I a) am naturally thin and don’t diet or “subscribe” to anything to be that way, and b) still don’t have “The Body” even though I am thin. I’ve been told that I should feel “flattered” about being objectified because I’m skinny. It’s totally invalidating. Like the author of this post said, changing the focus of ‘beauty’ from one select group to another select group does not solve a damn thing.
This is really wonderful; it’s always a good reminder that tearing down others doesn’t build you up (note how carefully I avoided quoting Mean Girls there, which was, I assure you, a monumental struggle).
I personally hate the word “fat,” but have never liked “curvy” either. I’ve recently started describing myself as “chubby,” and it strangely makes me feel better than calling myself “fat.” Isn’t it interesting how different words affect people differently? I love that we are beginning to have words to choose from depending on what works for us, not only in this arena but in others (sexual orientation, religious orientation, etc.).
I don’t hold much stock on labels. I’m always saying that, but it’s true. As humans we try to define things and make them make sense to us by framing them in a way that we can accept. That’s what we do. I think body size, like beauty is subjective.
Different cultures, societies and mind sights see it differently. I personally don’t want to be called fat, because of all the negative connotations that go along with it.
However in my culture, we change the word fat to phat — which means something else. So we have the personal power to view the world and change the words/label to mean what we want them to mean and that can be both a good and bad thing.
Excellent. This is something I’ve had to school myself on in recent years. It’s so easy, when you’re struggling with weight and body issues, to just tell yourself that you’re more ‘real’, more ‘curvy’ and more ‘sexy’ than thinner counterparts to try and up your self esteem. But the sad fact is, you’re just putting others down to make yourself feel better. Thinner is not better than fat – but fat isn’t better than thin, either. It is what it is. We are what we are. If we strive to be something other than what we are, that’s okay, that’s how some people feel – but when we start to say that one is more ‘real’ or somehow ‘better’ than the other, that’s where we come into problems.
True, but we are more than the body and the words.
Golda! Thank you so much for tackling that unfortunate phrase. I always say that “real” women–whatever that means–are whatever they want to be.