Thursday, July 17, 2014

About "Real" Women

At this point, I think it's all be said or seen..those memes and commercials and regurgitated quotes about what real women are and what real women have.  There are countless articles about how all women are real women and blogs about how we should stop using the word "real" because everything you see is real.

I think the message got lost along the way, or maybe I just didn't understand it the same way other people did.  There is no reason why I, or anyone else, should be attacked for saying something as simple and unoffensive as "I love that they're using real women in their ads".  I've been told that I don't know what I'm talking about.  I've been told that because I'm curvy/overweight/thick/fat that of course I say that.  I've been told only fat women say things like that.  I've been told that all women are real and fuck off for saying otherwise. 

Am I not a real woman?  Do I not deserve respect as a real woman with an opinion that no one cared to ask for before telling me I was wrong?  Because not one of the people who ever said something nasty to me about my opinion every actually asked me what that opinion was beyond that one statement!

Dove came out with it's "Real Beauty" campaign 10 years ago this year.  When I first saw it I thought it was beautiful.  I was in love with the curves, and the tattoos and the bellies because, admittedly, their bodies were more like mine.  It was nice to finally see bodies like mine being positively portrayed in an advertisement in a way that was sexy, beautiful and confident.  But I never saw it the way other people appeared to see it: as an attack on women who are skinny, who are slim, who are thin, who do not have curves, who are not overweight, who do not have tattoos or have a flat ass and no boobs.  

Of course I realized that the above photo from Dove is photo-shopped.  I see it even more so now than I did years ago.  What I also notice now that I didn't really notice then is the absence of women who are slim/thin, who don't have "curves", who might have smaller breasts or a smaller butt.  At the time, I saw it as a huge statement saying: "We're Beautiful, too" and I didn't stop to think how it could be mistaken as a put down because thinner women already had representation in media and advertising.  Looking at this image now... I can see how people might feel that the image implied that only REAL women have curves because there were no slim, trim, or thin women represented in this image from the "Real Beauty" campaign, as if those women couldn't exemplify "Real Beauty".  

But when I say it was nice to finally see real women, what I meant was that it was nice to see deviation from unequal representation of body types that had been gracing the covers of magazines and advertisements my entire life.  Growing up, it was easy to feel like I wasn't the size or shape I was supposed to be or should strive to be because I was looking at women who had bodies that I could never hope to achieve, bodies that looked nothing like mine at my skinniest and most fit because that was the example I had been given about what women were supposed to be my entire life.  It's not that I didn't have beautiful women around me, I just thought that in order to be truly beautiful in a way other people would recognize meant thin.  It wasn't about saying those women weren't real women, it was about being happy to see that women of all body types were being represented because real women come in all sizes.  It wasn't about cutting anyone down, it was about feeling like I finally got to see a body like mine and like many of the women I know represented on billboards and in magazines just like the women I know who are slimmer get  to see women with bodies like theirs represented.  

It meant that I was happy to see women who look confident, and beautiful and some even totally average but still rocking it.  I meant that I'm happy to see a women that looks like a mother I know.  I'm happy to see a woman that looks like we could be friends.  I'm happy to see women who actually remind me of  my friends.  It meant that I'm happy to see healthy, happy women of any size...women that represent or remind me of all of the beautiful women I see every day.  I'm so happy to see how our definition of beauty is shifting with the times, and I'm glad it now encompasses so many different kinds of beauty.  It was never meant as a put down to anyone when I said it.

I think the threat to all real women right now really ought to be the fact that we are being forced to validate ourselves.  As if we aren't real in all of our physical forms, or as if photo-shopped images are somehow more real than we are.  While I realize that the image above was also photo-shopped, I like to think that perhaps it isn't as extreme as some of the photo-shop jobs that have been released lately.  Particularly, the Mariah Carey photo-shoot for Wonderland magazine's summer issue as revealed by Jezebel last week.  Mariah is a beautiful woman, but I can't help but feel saddened at the fact that any beautiful woman needed to be photo-shopped so radically and I wonder if that is how she wanted to look, or if that made her feel good.  Granted, perhaps the issue is more that Terry Richardson is not only a creepy creeper but a fauxtographer as well.  I'm not sure but for the most part I'm unimpressed with his work.

Photo courtesy of

I'm not so silly as to think that photo-shop and digital models are a new thing and this hasn't been going on for years and years.  I guess I just find myself incredibly saddened by the fact that drastically photo-shopping images as if a woman isn't good enough or beautiful enough is the trend right now.  What happened to having a talented photographer taking a beautiful photograph of a beautiful woman who is real no matter her size, age or color?  Perhaps instead of arguing over who is a real woman and who isn't, we could all take a stand against people, businesses and corporations who insist that we change and mold photos of beautiful women as if what is there isn't good enough to be called beautiful.  Perhaps if we accept that we're all Real Women and stop trying to constantly validate it, we can work on being treat like Real People (I'm fucking talking to you, Hobby Lobby).

The Truth about Real Women is this (and this is my truth as I see it)

A Real Woman is/can do/can be/can handle/does/doesn't do/thinks/says/doesn't say whatever the hell she wants.

A Real Woman is more than what some meme on Facebook says, unless that's what it means to be a real woman to her.

Real women have curvesboobsbellieslong legsstretch markswrinkleskrinkleslaugh linesflat chestsbig buttsdimplespimplescankleshair in weird placesshort legsflat tummiessmall bumsscars...two x-chromosomes, and some don't even have those.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I couldn't agree more with what you said :)