I’m a curvy girl. I think so; my family thinks so; my partners have all thought so.
I’ve always been curvy to some degree. I remember being nine years old and being cognitive of the fact that my hips and thighs were wider than those of many of my peers.
Naturally this has only become more pronounced in my adult life. If you consult Cosmo about my so-called “body type” they’d probably tell you I lie somewhere between an hourglass and a pear or somehow be compared to some other sort of nonsensical object.
There is this one statement that I have seen variations of many, many times over. Every time I see it, it makes me cringe. It’s proudly declared as if it were some sort of unofficial anthem of tumblr: REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES.
This is complete and total crap.
The internet is full of statements like this declaring that real women have curves, or real women have tattoos, or real women work out, or real women eat vegan, or read books, or are moms. Frankly, it pisses me off. It should upset you, too – especially if you identify as a woman.
So, here’s the truth: Real women have curves. Real women are as flat as Kansas. Real women are tall; short; averaged height. Real women have AAA cups and DDD cups. Real women have tattoos and piercings and real women have bodies that are artistically blank canvases. Real women are all natural and real women wear makeup and dye their hair and have weaves. Real women are red heads and they are also brunettes and they also don’t have any hair at all.
Real women eat vegan and real women also love baby back ribs. They aggressively read books and also only ever read tabloids. Real women run marathons, and they chose to exercise twice year. Real women pursue careers and real women choose to work at home.
Real women are fully able-bodied and real women have disabilities. Real women are young, old, and middle aged. Real women can come from any religion. They have any racial identity imaginable, and come from any number of cultural backgrounds.
Real women don’t even think about sex until their wedding night and real women consume porn on a frequent basis. Real women are wives and real women are single, divorced, widowed, or otherwise independent. Real women are mothers of large families and real women also don’t ever want to have any children. Heck, some women don’t even possess uteruses.
And that is all okay because none of these traits are what make a women “real.”
It is not our behaviors, looks, actions, and performances that define us as women; and there is not a template for what makes a woman more “real” than any other woman around her.
Women already face instructions day in and day out about how to look, behave, or otherwise perform in order to satisfy other people’s projected ideals of what an “ideal” woman looks like. We hear it from our culture, we hear it from our media, we hear it from our families; we sometimes even hear it from our friends and partners.
But when we create static definitions of what the “perfect” woman is, of what a “real” woman is, then any person who does not fully fit into that rigid description has failed at being what they identify as. When we create golden standards of womanhood, then anyone who does not reach those standards is sub-par, or even sometimes perceived as “bad.” Even when those traits aren’t the result of choice (like how I was born with curvy genetics), we force them into categorizations of in-group and out-group.
Instead of dividing women into categories of “real” and “failed,” we should be uniting our individual strengths and weaknesses through solidarity. We should be embracing the traits that make us uniquely great.
So next time, substitute a statement declaring “Real Women Have Curves” with something like “I’m proud of my curvy body” or “I like girls with big butts.”
All women are real women, and perpetuating a cycle of discrimination does a disservice to that fact.
Anna Mitchell likes big butts and she cannot lie. Love notes and hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org