THE TRUTH ABOUT REAL WOMEN by Guest Blogger, Wendy York
“Real women have curves.” While I wholeheartedly believe that the intention behind this statement is a positive one, the message has a very harmful implication: if you don’t have curves, you are not a real woman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the idea of embracing curves; it’s something I’m still working on for myself. And when I see women who look more like me in the media, it definitely gives me more confidence. That being said, it is incredibly counterproductive to empower one group of women if it involves putting others down. In the movement towards gender equality, we cannot afford to tear other women down to lift ourselves up. We gain our power by empowering each other. Some companies have done a wonderful job of finding this equilibrium by portraying all body types. Lane Bryant provides a fashionable clothing line, specifically for plus size women, who make up the majority of the American population despite their lack of representation in media. Aerie has opted not to retouch photos of their models in an effort to show young women that it is natural to have rolls, stretch marks, cellulite, and all the other components of the female body that are hidden behind closed doors by mass media.
Of course, beauty is not the measure with which we should be defining our worth as people. However, much of the media perpetuates the idea that beauty is where our worth comes from. And much of the time, the media is also telling us that men are the people who are most qualified to tell us whether or not we’re beautiful enough. Meghan Trainor’s 2014 hit, “All About That Bass,” is another attempt at empowering women with curves. However, the means by which she does so are problematic: “my mama she told me don’t worry about your size…because boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” In other words, you should embrace your curves, because they will garner male attention. This song (and many others) insinuates that our primary purpose as women is to attract the male gaze, to be desired by men. I refuse to accept that. My primary purpose as a woman is defined by me and only me. I have no intention of allowing male perceptions of me to dictate the way I feel about my appearance, let alone my self-worth. Unfortunately, our society tells us from a very young age that attaining the beauty standard set by a patriarchal society is the only way to feel as though we are enough. Fighting this ideology is a challenge we must take on together.
Beauty is not something purely determined by body type or any other aspect of physical appearance. However, all women deserve to feel beautiful in the bodies that carry their beautiful souls. Curvy women are beautiful. Thin women are beautiful. All women are beautiful. And real women? Real women are whoever the hell they want to be. Real women come in all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexualities, even genitalia. That is one of the most beautiful thing about real women: we have the freedom to be what we want to be, whether that means traveling the world or becoming the first female president. No one can stop us. No one can tell us we are not “real.”