On the “Real Women Have Curves” Meme

Jezebel.com nails it once again. Writer “Lingerie Lesbian” wrote a blog post about, well, lingerie, and touches  (among other things) upon a subject that’s been on my mind a lot:

The “Real Women Have Curves” meme is problematic not only in its suggestion that certain types of bodies are better than others in their size and shape, but also in their suggestion that “real women” should want curves. It goes without saying that curves do not make a woman, but it does need saying that these curves that are so associated with “real” womanhood (and in this situation, an explicitly feminine version of womanhood) can bring an unwanted femininity especially because they are associated with this idea of the classically beautiful (read: classically feminine) woman. I hate when we act like beauty and femininity and curvy bodies are somehow synonymous.

THIS. The writer posts a meme:


I’ve seen this before multiple times, reposted by various Facebook friends, I’ve seen several more pictures like it, and it annoys me every time.

Of course I don’t have anything against women being curvy. I’ll level with you,  I’m not a curvy woman myself. It’s not that I don’t have any curves at all, I do, but I don’t think anyone would describe me as curvy. When I’m not wearing a shirt, or if I’m wearing a tight-fitting top, you can count all my ribs. In the seventh grade I found a document authored by the boys of my class listing the girls of our class according to boob size, and I came in last, and I don’t think my position would have improved much if those same boys were to track down all us girls again today and do a qualified estimate (actually I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t, as I happen to know that the one contender for my final place is currently breastfeeding. So.). My scrawny stature is not brought on because of dieting or because I’m obsessively trying to look like a supermodel (which I don’t, by the way, not at all.). I just happen to have the genes for a small, non-curvy stature. Sometimes that’s annoying, sometimes it’s ok, but at no time does it mean that I’m not womanly, and I resent that idea.

Look, I was as thrilled as anybody when the Christina Hendricks thing started happening a few years back, and curviness came back in style. I grew up with the whole “skinny is pretty” thing and disliked it as much as the next person. What I don’t see, however, is how it suddenly became ok to just go ahead and say the exact opposite, namely that curvy is the only way to go, and that skinny women are not hot or, even, not real women. It offends me that when it comes to the issue of women’s appearance we’re obviously so reluctant to learn from the mistakes of the past. That it is obviously so difficult for us to just accept women for what they are. That there always have to be a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘real’ and ‘false’ when it comes to our looks.

I also don’t think ads like these are as funny as people make them out to be:


I mean, I see how they’re thoughtprovoking in the sense that women are always trying to lose weight these days. But mostly I just think they’re kind of a depressing reminder that things have been this way for a really friggin’ long time, that for as long as anyone can remember, the world has had an attitude towards what kind of body type women should have in order to qualify as attractive. As Lingerie Lesbian puts it, it’s “woman vs. woman imagery”, and it’s ridiculous. And I do not even see what it’s supposed to mean. Skinny women and curvy women and in-between women have co-existed at all times, and, at least among my friends and acquaintances, I see no proof that curvy women have a harder time finding romantic partners than skinny ones, or vice versa. We’re ok. And we’re all women.

I’m not saying that people are not allowed to have preferences. If you’re a woman and your curves/skinniness makes you feel sexy, well, good for you. Also, if you’re a man and you happen to be into curvy ladies, that’s nice. But please, please let’s abandon the whole “real women” rhetorics. As well as the idea of a certain body style being “in”. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s