Real Women Aren't Always Thin Or Curvy
Many people today believe that the media pressures women to be thin. While this is not always a bad thing (rising obesity levels suggest that we need a little motivation to lose some weight), it’s generally perceived to be ‘wrong’. The media, fashion in particular has cycled through various body shapes throughout history. From the voluptuous bodies of antiquity to the flappers of the 1920’s, power shoulders in the 1980’s to the waiflike eras of Kate Moss and Twiggy. Today we see a variety of shapes and sizes in the celebrity world, yet fashion models are still usually thin.
This has caused a huge backlash amongst women. Blaming designers for teenage anorexia, slating the tiny frames of thin women for ‘not being real’, crying out for ‘real women’ to model clothing; this attitude can be seen almost everywhere. Now, at the beginning, this ‘Real Woman’ movement was needed. The ‘heroin chic’ trend of the 90’s was dangerous as people everywhere tried to starve themselves down to the elusive size zero. Clearly, the motivations and intentions of the ‘Real Women’ movement were respectable, a cry for equality amongst women of all sizes.
So what's the problem?
The problem with the movement is not its goals (women of all sizes in the media spotlight). The problem with the movement is its irony. Its hypocrisy. The sheer arrogance of a movement that claims to include all women, and yet excludes over 90% of the gender is outstanding.
Ask a supporter of the ‘Real Women’ movement what a real woman is. The response is usually something along the lines of; ‘a curvy woman with hips and breasts, something to grab onto, not skin-and-bone, not straight up like a man.’ Next, ask what they mean by curvy. A common answer? Someone who isn’t a size zero stick-insect; now what does that say to the skinny 15 year old who hasn’t finished developing yet? A movement which originally intended to boost the body image of women everywhere seems to have gone in an entirely different direction.
How is Realness determined?
This logic is clearly self-contradictory, as many people already know and as a growing number are coming to realise; not every woman above a size zero has curvy hips or breasts. Case in point, Beth Ditto (singer in the band Gossip), Beth is clearly a larger woman and due to her short stature is presumably clinically obese; if we were to assume that all women above a zero are ‘Real’ then Beth would fit into this category, be seen as a positive role model and be praised for her figure worldwide. However it we were to use the more recent definition, Beth isn’t ‘Real’ at all as her waist-hip ratio appears to be quite high.
Realness by Size
At the other side of the scale, this ‘Real Woman’ movement is questioning the femininity of millions. While it’s doubtful that Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss will receive much sympathy in this debate, what of the women in developing countries? Many are starving and will therefore has the low body fat needed to fit a size zero; this suggests that they cannot possibly be ‘Real Women’ right? Of course not, ‘Real Women’ have hips and breasts; they don’t starve down to ridiculously unattainable sizes.
What of the naturally thin? What of the women who will never exceed 9 stone due to genetics? Are they ‘Real’? What of athletes? The women whose careers demand high levels of exercise and a strict diet; Paula Radcliffe, to mention just one, is exceedingly thin as marathon running generally demands. Is she a ‘Real Woman’? It is clear that the definitions of ‘only women above a size X’ or ‘only women who weigh more than X pounds’ are quite ludicrous.
Curves to determine Realness
The second definition, that only curvy women are real women is slightly more understandable. Classical art has always portrayed beautiful women as curvy and it’s logical to assume that all women are supposed to look like the Venus (if they didn’t diet/binge). Christina Hendricks is a prime example of the curvy woman, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Dita Von Teese all admittedly have lovely figures, but is it right to say that all women who don’t have this hourglass shape are not ‘Real’?
A 2005 study shows that only 8.4% of women have an hourglass figure. This means that 91.6% are not ‘Real’. To my female readers, how does that feel? This movement is suggesting that almost all of you are ‘pretend’, ‘fake’ or worse ‘men in drag’. Even if we consider figures such as Beyonce and Jenifer Lopez to be curvy, the pear (termed ‘spoon’ in the study) shape is possessed by only 20.92%. So around 30% of women are ‘Real’, as for the remaining 70%, who knows?
I hope you can agree that the ‘Real Woman’ movement is complete drivel; what makes a ‘Real Woman’? The lack of a Y chromosome that’s what! You can be fat, thin, size zero, a half ton human, square, curvy, dumpy, have the legs of an elephant or the shoulders of a linebacker and you will still be a Real Woman. Kate Moss is a Real Woman, Sophia Loren is a Real Woman, the women of Ethiopia are Real Women, Athletes are Real Women, the couch potato is a Real Woman, all women are Real Women. How can they not be?
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