Friday, 18 April 2014

REAL Women Don't Tell Others What REAL Women Are.

Citizens of Internet Land,  I have a problem.  Well, actually, I have several: My hair rarely behaves and I'm not married to Matt Smith, to name but two.  But currently, I have a problem with pictures like these:

Here's the thing.  I'm a UK size 10.  I have curvy hips, wobbly thighs and, frankly, something of a pot belly at times. Being only five feet tall means that any excess weight I gain is noticeable pretty quickly and I won't lie; I've struggled with my body image.  That's in no small part due to walking past shops with magazines filled with pictures of celebrities no bigger than I am, with captions like: "Celebrity's shocking weight gain" and "Supermodel displays not-so-super cellulite."  These women, some of whose bodies are not that dissimilar to mine, are then subjected to the "red circle of doom," highlighting their physical flaws.  It's humiliating and it's depressing.  Why?  Because that person is more than just a body.  She's a woman with feelings, ideas and aspirations and who are we to reduce her to nothing more than her looks?  Not only is it depressing for the person in question to be so publicly criticised for the most trivial of reasons, but it's dangerous, too.  Young girls read glossy magazines.  There's already far too much pressure on youngsters to look a certain way in order to feel that they fit in.  I went through a phase when I was in my late teens where I would barely eat a full meal because I was so convinced I'd be fat and disgusting if I did.  I got over it, thankfully and now I'm back to my usual, greedy self, but too many girls don't.

So, you'd think that perhaps, given all of that, I might approve of the "real women have curves" movement and the "motivational" (if it's possible to type a word with sarcasm, I just did) images popping up online, telling us that real women are curvy, rather than all skin and bones.

I don't.

The implication in those images is one I'm uncomfortable with.  It suggests that a thin woman - a girl who perhaps has a flatter chest than others - is somehow not real.  It also subtly tells us that there is a specific way that we're supposed to look, in order for us to be considered attractive.  How is that any better than what the magazines are doing?  The fact is, it isn't any better.  It's no healthier for a naturally slim girl with a slightly boyish figure to be desperately munching on crisps in order to try to make herself curvy than it is for a curvier girl to be starving herself in order to be thin.

Here's a question:  Do you identify as female?  If the answer to that is yes, then congratulations!  You're a woman.  Your body shape has utterly no bearing on that, whatsoever.  I could go up or down a dress size and I'd still be just as much of a real woman as I am now.

Most of my curves are doughnut-related.  Go to Prague, everyone; they have doughnuts as big as your HEAD.

There is, of course, something to be said for encouraging healthy attitudes to our body shape.  It's right that we try to encourage young girls to look after their bodies by eating relatively healthily and being active (yeah, I know - the irony of me saying that after posting a photo of myself with a MASSIVE doughnut is not lost on me).  But it's also vital that we teach them to love themselves.  AS THEY ARE. 

It's time we stopped judging others for not fitting into some warped societal idea of what a woman should look like.  It's time to stop suggesting that a girl won't find herself a partner if she's too skinny, because "real men like curves" one minute, then making her paranoid by telling her that "men don't like fat girls" the next!  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. 

So do women.


  1. I really just wanted to thank you for this post. I'm pretty darn thin - my weight hovers just under 100 pounds no matter what or how much I eat and exercise - and I've had my fair share of body image issues recently. It always really upsets me to see posts and songs and media in general putting down on skinny makes me feel like less of a person a lot of the time, and that's never nice. Conversely, I also encounter other people (usually women) raving "Look how thin you are! Oh I wish I looked like you!" which also serves to make me uncomfortable - though my body maintains this weight naturally, it seems, my weight is not a generally healthy weight for my height, which is pretty average, so asking to weigh as little as I do is kind of almost asking to be unhealthy, and I don't want to be a role model for that. I've been trying to gain weight recently for many reasons, some of which you've pointed out: I have a flatter chest, I'm bony, it's difficult to find clothes that fit right, and I don't like the assumptions that people make about me or my body based on the way I look.

    So that's why I'm thanking you for this article. I've been trying and trying to articulate and point out to people that telling anyone how they "should" look is wrong. Helping people be healthy is one thing, but forcing women into any sort of box is not something we want to do, and it's harmful to all women. I really appreciated this, and it made me feel a lot better about myself. So thank you again.

  2. I have literally only just seen this comment, but thank you!

    And I'm really glad it made you feel better about yourself. It breaks my heart when we women tear each other down - we really should be supporting one another!


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