- Women's Health
What Makes A Real Woman?
We're A Visual Society
According to a 2016 study, the "ideal" woman has a small waist to hip ratio, with ladies viewing a larger bustline as more attractive than their male counterparts did. This is what, apparently, humans are drawn to as far as the ideal of human attractiveness goes.
Any image of a woman in such a study is always drawn with stereotypically long hair, with an hourglass figure and a decent sized bust.
Not every woman is built along those lines, though. I understand that when one thinks of a woman, one often looks at someone with a curvy figure, longish hair, full lips - everything that seems stereotypical for the gender. These traits are so stereotypical, in fact, that it has almost become an ideal in today's society for each woman to aspire to.
Not all women like long hair, though, and some of us are built like a 16-year-old boy. It's as though when estrogen was handed out, we never got the memo and missed our fair share. Don't get me wrong - it's taken me a lot of years to accept that I'll never look like Christie Brinkley or other models, but I've finally come to accept the entire physical package that is ultimately me.
The problem is that not everyone has accepted this.
We are a very visually oriented society, so much so that if our figures do not ascribe to the feminine norm, we are immediately questioned. While there are some men out there who are lean with wiry builds and long hair, it seems as though people are more reluctant to question them lest they discover they have misidentified the boy or man's gender.
It's been my experience that not every person who are unsure of a girl's gender share that same sort of reluctance to refer to someone by their incorrect gender. I've been questioned going into a girl's washroom from the time I was at least 9. While those questions have certainly not occurred with the regularity they once did, they continue to come up, and I have noticed that my oldest has been through similar experiences as she's been growing up.
All this leads to, among those of us who really don't like wearing dresses or makeup or have short hair and a smaller bust, is serious questioning and doubts about our body image. Again, I do understand that men go through body image concerns as well, but it seems as though women have a harder time dealing with these issues.
The Media Doesn't Help
Fighting Societal Beliefs
We all want to be accepted for who we are. That's a given. No one gets up in the morning and says, "I'm happy being ostracized for who I am."
There's a deep-seated belief that men have to be muscular beefcakes and women have to be busty with curves and great hair. These are the people we tend, more often than not, to be attracted to. For a moment, though, imagine what it's like to be told - and sometimes angrily told - that you're in the wrong washroom simply because of your gender presentation. This is something that transgender individuals go through on a frighteningly regular basis, but it's something that people who don't always follow the stereotypical gender appearance also go through.
"You're in the wrong washroom, little boy."
"He's not a girl."
I remember at 14, going into a swimming pool change room in Germany and seeing a female janitor flipping out at me. As I was listening to my Walkman - ah, the 1980s! - I had no idea what she was actually saying to me until I pulled one of my headphones off my ears. Effectively the woman was yelling at me to get out of the change room because she believed me to be a teen boy. It wasn't until I removed my shirt and she saw the one piece swimsuit underneath that she flushed and very quickly apologized before racing out of the room.
I was six feet tall and had short hair because with as thick as it was and still is, it's easier for me to maintain. That being said, we still live in a world where girls should have long hair and boys should have short hair, and anything that goes outside of those expectations get the wearers of those hairstyles nothing but grief. If they are also not falling into the stereotype of the expected body shape for their gender, it gets even worse.
It's like those memes that show up occasionally on Facebook about how to have a "swimsuit-ready body;" if you have a body, put a swimsuit on it. There! You have a swimsuit-ready body.
We need to stop with the statements that only increase the gender divide. While I do understand that at some point, men and women need to be different in order to effectively procreate, statements about how men and women need to look and be in order to support gender normativity have gotten quite old. It's parental choice how they socialize their kids when they're small; it's increasingly a child's choice as they age, and socialization comes from how a kid presents themselves as well as their behaviors and what they want to play with or do.
When we encourage individual expression instead of gender expression, we encourage people to be more open minded in their beliefs of how genders should be presented. We also increase the focus on what really matters - whether the person behind the gender is a good person.
Because isn't that what matters more?