The more I explore body image and society, the more rotten layers I find to peel away. Here’s my latest discovery: I hate hate hate that the phrase “real women” is being used to describe ladies who are larger or curvier. “Larger or curvier than whom?” you might ask. Exactly. (Bonus points for your good grammar.)
Phrases like this pit us against one another, even if their original intent was positive. I know the idea that “real women have curves” is affirming for lots of girls who could really use that positive imagery – myself included – and so this idea should be a total “hooray”… except it boils down to self-acceptance in the form of pointing fingers at other women and saying, “It’s your turn to feel bad! You’re so skinny you’re not even real.”
Let’s just stop playing this stupid game. Let’s call it what it is. It’s dumb.
This is dumb:
Someone tried to make a valid point here, but it went off the rails about the time they turned it into a competition.
Yes, it’s ridiculous that Victoria’s Secret launched a campaign called “Love My Body” – which promises “A Body for Everybody” – and then marketed it with the image shown above. No duh. Those seven women are as representative of “everybody” as Andre the Giant is representative of the average male physique.
But it’s not doing womanhood any more favors to take the lovely ladies of the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign and compare them to the business-as-usual models in a way that makes the first body type seem alien. Yes, Victoria’s Secret has some serious thinking to do. Their message sucks. But their models represent very real women who aren’t anorexic or “plastic” just because they’re thin (which is what’s being implied here), any more than the women with body types represented in the Dove ad are lazy or gluttonous.
So, let’s stop the madness.
Dude, we’re all just people. Awesome women. (Unless you’re a guy reading this, in which case – you rock my socks off!) If we want to see real change in the way we’re portrayed in the media, we should stop diluting the strength of our message by calling each other “not beautiful” or “not real” for such shallow reasons. Our goal should be to see everyone represented in the public sphere. Every body type. All of us being celebrated as incarnations of an endlessly diverse human experience.
I’ll end by sharing a hopeful sort of light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel link, because there is a way out of this mess and some companies are leading the charge. Three cheers for Debenham’s 2013 Look Book, a clothing catalog chock full of images like the ones below. SO refreshing. P.S. They deliver to the US!
Good stuff, right? And P.P.S. – I’ll be back next week with a project I’ve been working on… my personal interpretation of a “beauty look book.”
Read more of my (productive) rants on body image here: