Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Real women

Last week I read a post on someone’s blog celebrating the appearance of “real women” in television shows lately. She meant “curvy, larger women,” of course – that’s what the term “real women” means these days. The comments on that post were a mixed bag. Some people celebrated right along with her, while others chastised her for implying that thin women weren’t real. I understand both points of view.

The majority of women shown on TV shows, and especially in magazines, are tall and approximately a size zero. And of course there are women in real life who are six feet tall and a hundred and ten pounds, but there are also women who are five-foot-four and a hundred and fifty pounds, but you don’t see a lot of women like that on TV. So when I see women like the ones on the new show “Up All Night,” (one of them is pictured above) who are at least my size or possibly larger, they feel more real to me than tiny women. They look like they have normal exercise routines. (Not that I’m bashing strenuous exercise. It’s just not for me.) They look like they eat pizza or mac-and-cheese a few times a week instead of salads every night. (Not that I’m bashing salads, either.) And they’re happy, funny, and attractive women – which, of course, are qualities you can have whether you’re thin or heavy.

On the other hand, just because you’re tiny doesn’t mean you’re not a real woman. This certainly isn’t a revolutionary concept, but I think all you need to qualify as a real woman is, well, to be a woman. I have friends who are closer to five feet tall than six, and I have friends who are over six feet tall. I have friends who are size zero and friends who are size fourteen. I have friends who have curvy hips and friends who have straight hips. I have friends who have big teeth, tiny eyes, prominent cheekbones, frizzy hair, straight hair – and I consider all of them to be beautiful, and I certainly consider all of them to be real women, regardless of whether their physical characteristics are in line with what’s currently shown in the media. I don't consider myself to be more of a real woman than my friends just because I have curves, and I don't think of my friends as superior to me just because they're tiny.

We turn to television and films to be entertained, and to fashion magazines to be inspired. But do we have to be entertained predominantly by women who spend hours every day exercising just so they can keep their tiny figures? (Seriously. I think I read somewhere that Gwyneth Paltrow exercises an hour and a half every day.) And do we have to be inspired only by women who are naturally thin, or who starve themselves to be thin, or who in all likelihood were airbrushed into thinness? Being thin, after all, isn’t a virtue, and being overweight isn’t a sin. The real world – that world you encounter when you walk out your door and down the street – is full of variety, and all women are “real women” regardless of their size.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you agree with me or not. (Although I tried very hard to take the middle ground here, so we probably agree on something!) Also, you have my apologies if some of my ideas are unclear - I was sick when I wrote this yesterday (thus, no outfit photos - I don't wear clothes when I'm sick), and my brain gets fuzzy when I'm not feeling well.


  1. For a "fuzzy brain" this is very well observed Stacey and I think I agree with you pretty much 100%! I've never liked the phrase "real women" because it's a subjective term - one person's real can be another's unreal(istic). Just because a woman has hips and boobs doesn’t mean she’s more real than a naturally slender, flat-chested woman!

    If you look after your body with the respect it deserves then that's YOUR ideal shape/size, and that shape can be totally different from one woman to the next. A real woman is really only a healthy woman - nothing to do with dress size. Great piece of writing… well done you for challenging that term!!

    Hope you feel better soon, sending you lots of love across the pond :)
    Catherine x


    1. I think health is a huge part of it - who cares if you're a size two or a size twelve, as long as you take care of your body.

  2. Stacey girl, so well said. I love your "sicky" writing and it makes me miss you that much more. I couldn't agree more. I love to work out, so therefore that helps me stay "thinner" than if I didn't work out. But, I also love eating carbs like there going out of style. Oh, and thin mint cookies during nap time right now. YUMMY! xoxoox

    1. Mmmm, carbs. And Thin Mints. Half the reason I exercise is so I can eat delicious things like those!

  3. I am a "curvy" girl and it drives me crazy when people say "real women have curves." It's not true. Sometimes women don't have curves, but it doesn't make them any less of a woman.

    I think that saying came about in an attempt to make those of us who are curvy feel good about themselves, but I don't think you should ever put someone down to feel good about yourself. And that saying implies that women who don't have curves are less than real, less than women. And that bothers me.

    Also, feel better.

    1. I think that is how it started. I understand the motivation behind it - I mean, for years it really bothered me that only skinny girls were praised for their figures, and for a while I actually appreciated being called a "real woman," but now that I've actually thought it through I find the phrase incredibly offensive.

  4. While I agree all women are "real" women, most of the women in the entertainment industry promote what is for most women an unrealistic standard of beauty. My take on the phrase "real woman" is as it applies to the unrealistic standard, not any individual woman.

    I've read the argument against using the term "real woman" and I do believe it is a valid point-of-view. It serves little purpose to try to empower women using language that only empowers those that do not naturally fit the standard of beauty and marginalizes those that do.



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