I think this might be a controversial post, and trust me I’m a little nervous about writing it because I try not to be an intentionally controversial person. But since I’m writing a blog on being healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally, this is a topic I simply cannot beat around. It’s the term: Real Women.
The first time I ever heard this phrase was at age 11 when the movie Real Women Have Curves was blowing up. The implication of this phrase seems very clear. In order to be a real woman you have to be all badda-bing badda-boom in all the right places. However, the underbelly suggests something a little darker.
If you don’t have hips…you aren’t a woman.
If you don’t have weight to throw around…you aren’t a woman.
If you don’t have large breasts…you aren’t a woman.
If you are thin…you aren’t a woman.
I think you get my point…This idea is further pushed by images of modern day models.
It’s true that in magazines you don’t see many people over a size eight, but that doesn’t mean every thin model photographed throws up, isn’t living a fulfilling eating life, or should be put down for not being born with T&A, and hips that Lucille Clifton would write poems about. Larger kids are often teased growing up. Guess what, thin kids are teased as well, and I’ve read articles of several models feeling like odd ducklings growing up. Telling someone to “go feed that girl a burger” is just as mean as telling someone “lay off the Twinkies.” The common ground between big women, average, women, and thin women is that they are all people and all susceptible to hurt feelings.
This idea of “Real Women” being bigger can also be detrimental to someone’s health. I’ve mentioned this before, but unfortunately as the obesity rate in our country rises, we move further and further away from knowing what a healthy person can look like. People who want to take control of their health and limit themselves to not eating junk food every day are commonly teased. As a black woman, I’m fully aware of the term thick. There are many healthy (black, white, and in between) women who have thick thighs. I’d say the lovely actress Gabrielle Union fits into that bracket, and although I don’t’ know her living habits she appears to be in very good shape.
However, you get a lot of this too.
Photocredit: Lipstick Alley
Yes, your thighs are “thick”, but this probably isn’t healthy. A lot of the times when people glorify this term they are justifying what can be overweight, unhealthy body types, and this isn’t good either!
You can be on the “bigger” side and healthy. We all know this gem.
You can be a waif and healthy. Check out model Chanel Iman below.
Teen Vogue. Model: Chanel Iman
And just as there are larger, unhealthy people, there are those who are dangerously thin and unhealthy
The Late Isabelle Caro
It was hard for me to find a photo of a model I know (I don’t really follow modeling too intensely) that was actually dangerously thin. There are a lot of blatantly edited photos to make someone look anorexic when they really aren’t, but this is French model Isabelle Caro who died last year from a lifelong battle with anorexia. She did a modeling campaign to bring attention to anorexia in the modeling industry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for encouraging digital artists to Photoshop as minimally as possible. And I think agencies that employ couture runway models (as these tend to be the most thin) should encourage healthier eating practices and not push girls to lose unhealthy amounts of weight. But we shouldn’t let one job market dictate how we treat people who aren’t badda-bing badda-boom.
A term like this pits females against each other, when instead we should be working together to create positive change. The phrase “
Real Women” alienates many women who aren’t curvy and can make them feel unworthy. Ironic, as isn’t that how people who use the phrase “Real Women” also feel in relationship to the magazine media? Instead we should think this way:
Real women have hips…of all sizes.
Real women have weight…that settles in genetically predisposed places.
Real women have breasts…of all shapes, sizes, and locations (perky, saggy, they’re all good.)
Real women are thin…and athletic, and pear shaped, and curvy, etc, etc.
Real Women…Aim to get to know their body better every single day and help take it to the most realistic, healthy place possible in a safe and supportive manner.
…So it doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I think it’s a mantra we should all start living by!
Ps: Here are some great places to check out for motivating female images.
Oxygen Magazine, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Fitness RX. Yup, they’re all body-building magazines! Modern day female body building is broken down into 3 categories. There’s figure, which is a bit more muscular, Fitness (tends to be made up of former dancers and gymnasts), and Bikini where the muscle tone is apparent but more subtle. These women work really hard for their bodies by exercising hard and smart and eating super well.
Blogger Ciara Gale. I follow this girl. You should follow this girl. She has great style, a killer work ethic, and a body that you should be envious of…for .2 seconds until you realize that she started out at ground zero too and you can achieve the same things!
Another place to look: duh, around you. Okay, here comes the sassy-Jocellyn: don’t always depend on media to please your every expectation. Look around you to see women and men of all shapes and sizes. There’s your best bet.