“Real Women Have Curves”*

Posted on June 30, 2011


I really hate that phrase…I mean I understand why it came about, and the empowerment it was supposed to generate, but really it has just become another phrase to deride women.

Before I go any further, I think I need to share a bit about myself before anyone decides that this is some bitter rant fueled by jealousy, or some other such nonsense. I am fat, no I don’t just think I am fat, I who stand at 5’6, and weigh over 200 lb, am fat, so yes, I have curves. I also know that when I was “skinny” I was still considered “fat” by society, and the BMI scale, even though caliper measurements put my body fat percentage at around 21%, simply because I was a size 10-12. The point is I speak from a place that is in the target group this phrase is supposed to inspire, and yet it does nothing but make me mad.

For years, ad’s, commercials, tv, movies, and society in general have surrounded us with images of the “perfect woman”. She’s tall, but not taller than her man, with long legs, narrow hips, a tiny waist, and big boobs. Her stomach is flat, but never too muscular, her arms and legs are toned, but not too much, she loves wearing 6 inch heels, her boobs always stand at attention, and you’ll never see a pore, pimple, blemish, or cellulite on her body. We also got our heads filled with the waifs, the girls who were so tiny, and had frames similar to prepubescent girls, and you could see ever bone peeking out. We were sent the message that these were the ideal women…that this is what men want, what will make you beautiful, successful, and happy if you were to just look like them. Oh it’s never said out loud of course, but the message is loud and clear..whether it got into your head through the media, or from your peers.

The fallout of this has been a higher instance of teenagers, young women, and even pre-teen girls being diagnosed with eating disorders, body dimorphism, or in some way hating themselves because they don’t fit into this ideal. It doesn’t help when you have celebrities, and models who are usually held up as the ideal starving themselves because they don’t think they are good enough/thin enough/pretty enough. What’s worse is girls growing up with other girls telling them they aren’t pretty enough, the boys calling them fat, and even adults…the ones who should know better, the ones that should be protecting them, telling them they don’t measure up….they don’t measure up to some ideal that for the majority of women is unattainable.

You see I understand that this rallying cry of “Real Women Have Curves” came about with probably the best of intentions. I know it came from women who finally got fed up with being told, and made to feel that because they were a size 10, or 12, or 24, that they weren’t, and couldn’t be beautiful. It came from women who were tired of constantly yo-yo dieting to lose that extra 10lbs so they could fit in a certain dress, from women who were tired of always feeling like they needed to order a salad when they went out when what they really wanted was a burger. I understand this, and even got swept up in it, because hell yeah, I am beautiful not in spite of my wide hips, broad shoulders, ample bottom, and large chest, but because of them, because they are what make me uniquely me. I have curves, and I am gorgeous!

Here is where it goes wrong though. It has gone from being inspirational to being an insult. You see Real Women don’t have curves. Only Some Real Women Have Curvessome real women don’t, some are tall, some are short, some have big boobs, some have small, some are small framed, petite, and naturally thin, some are tall and naturally thin, some have ample booties, and “child bearing hips” and a little “pooch” on their lower belly. They come in all shapes and sizes, and we are all very, very real, and I think it is just as damaging to tell a woman, or girl that she is not “Real” because she has a “boyish” or angular frame, or because she can’t gain weight no matter how much she tries. I think it’s just as damaging to tell a girl who tends to run on the thin side that she needs to “eat a sandwich/cheeseburger/some cake” as it is to tell the heavy girl “to eat a salad/exercise/she should skip the dessert”. Either way you look at it, you are telling some girl, some woman somewhere that she doesn’t measure up, that she’s not good enough, and that she needs to strive to look like something that goes completely against her body type.

I hate this phrase, because it doesn’t empower. It demeans. It sets a bar that for many women is unreachable. We should focus on health, which can come at any size, focus on things that energize our bodies, our minds, and most importantly our souls. Each of us has to come to a realization we are who we are. Losing weight won’t make you happy, gaining weight won’t make you happy, neither will bigger/smaller boobs, thinner thighs, longer/shorter/straighter/curlier hair, so on and so forth …it all might make you feel better for a bit, but in the end it’s just window dressing. I think one of the biggest things for me was just finally coming to terms that I am who I am, I am built how, I am built, and I have only myself to count on for my happiness, and once I stop trying to live up to, fit into, and basically ignored everyone else’s standards and ideals, and focused on what made me happy, truly happy, did I stop being so hard on myself.

If we want to empower, why can’t we just tell women “Real Women are Unique, and Because We Are Unique We Are Beautiful” and leave it at that, because not excluding one another is what empowers us, what makes us real…not curves, or the lack there of.


*Originally posted on 12/19/2010 on seeiteati.wordpress.com.  This is a continuation of transferring posts from old blog to this one.*