by David Wraith
I was trolling for naked pictures of my friends on FetLife, like I do, when I stumbled upon the picture to the right and the controversy it was causing. Lots of people were co-signing and amenning the sentiment, but a few people were expressing their displeasure with it.
At some point in our lifetime, the media trend toward favoring women with skinnier bodies, once confined to runway models, went haywire. Compare a photo of an attractive Hollywood actress in her early 30s to a picture of the same actress when she was in her early 20s. Many of them who were slim ten years ago are positively emaciated now. The bodies favored by the entertainment and fashion industries have gotten so thin, they are seemingly unattainable by 90% of women.
Hence the populist backlash that launched the “real women have curves” meme. On the face of it, it makes sense. It was to counteract the fat-shaming experienced by a majority of women who think, feel, or are constantly being told that they are overweight. It was a way for curvier women to feel empowered and sexy in a society that tried to control them by telling them that they were inadequate. It’s an idea that certainly had its heart in the right place.
One problem: Saying that “real women” have curves implies that women who lack curves are somehow less than women. Instead of promoting solidarity among all women by taking aim at the sexist, patriarchal and capitalist forces that seek to control women by fat-shaming, women were being turned against each other. This “fat” vs. “skinny,” “real” vs. “fake” dynamic is a form of internalized misogyny. It’s the old divide and conquer technique. Instead of addressing the real enemy, it pits women against each other.
Riddle me this; how is telling a woman who is athletic, naturally slender, gifted (or cursed) with a high metabolism or dealing with some form of anorexia or bulimia, that she’s less than a real woman any better than telling her she’s less of a woman for being gay, or butch or trans? It comes from the same heterosexist, homophobic place that says you’re not a “real man” if you’re gay, trans, or fall short of any number of masculine stereotypes.
So, let’s agree that all men are real men and all women are real women and those who identify otherwise are real whatever-they-are’s. Excluding replicants, cyborgs and androids, we’re all real people regardless of weight or body mass index.
At our last clothing optional party, a woman paused before disrobing and said, “I know I don’t have the perfect body.” A reassuring gentleman replied, “no one has a perfect body.” Overhearing their exchange, in a moment of inspiration, I countered, “Every body is the perfect body.”
Thank you so very much for your comments. I am one of the curvier women who tends to hide and be very cautious of my body. My wonderful women friends with smaller straighter bodies tend to do the same. In the end, women tend to be more ashamed of their bodies no matter what the type. I am starting to wonder if men even care just see the beauty in all women and women just seem to not be able to see the beauty in themselves. I appreciate your insight on all women and the perfect body.
Actually you forgot to include that it also comes from a very transmisogynistic place as well. Every time we tell women that they aren’t “real” for whatever reason, we’re promoting a lot of hate that leads to trans women having criminally high murder rates all over the world.
Outside of that, I have to agree with you. No one gets to define what it means to be a woman but that woman herself. Anyone who tries needs to hush up and get over themselves.
Thank you! That’s exactly right. Real women have curves … sometimes, and sometimes they don’t. There’s not right way to have a body. Some skinny women are beautiful. Some big, curvaceous women are beautiful. Some women in between are, too.