Can We Quit the Term ‘Real Women’ Already?

Women are constantly divided up into factions, by society and increasingly, by ourselves. But the one group that seems to have been gaining ground over the past few years is ‘real women’. This term is constantly bandied about, lest we forget how ‘real women’ should look. But the more I hear it, the more irritating I find it. ‘Real women have curves’? Oh really? So, any woman devoid voluptuous hips and a cup size that runneth over is faking it? Enough of this madness!

I get it, I do, the big backlash against the supermodel era, the uber slim women we see in magazines every day – since we have a growing obesity issue in this country, it all seems slightly unrepresentative of what’s really going on. After years of being told we should look a certain way, the ‘real women’ movement is almost like a big middle finger to the fashion and beauty industry – ‘we’re here and you can ignore us no longer,’ Kudos for that – I get it.

However, there’s a whole sinister underside to the term that really doesn’t sit well with me. If ‘real women’ have curves, that automatically suggests that if you’re ‘skinny’, slim, have an athletic build or are anything other than curvaceous, you are somehow less than. You’re not feminine or womanly enough to be considered a ‘real woman’. There’s a real smugness in the term. And there’s also a validation in it. For women who may have been trying to lose weight, being part of this ‘real woman’ wave validates their ‘curves’ which may actually legitimately be weight they really need to lose. I touched on this in a post I did earlier this year called The Great Weight Debate – I mentioned the words ‘overweight’ and ‘fat’ so needless to say, I was deemed a judgmental bitch by many in the comments, though thankfully a few read the post properly and actually understood the point I was trying to make.

Then we have the scary end of the spectrum where young women are having all sorts of surgeries to enlarge certain areas of their bodies to give them these ever elusive curves, so that they too can be classed a ‘real woman.’ This year there seem to have been a crazy number of botched surgery stories, mainly involving buttock implants, in which a number of women died. Just last week, a story emerged of a woman having a botched surgery in which a complete cowboy injected her with a mixture of cement and tire sealant to give her bigger buttocks. Just like the trend of people getting liposuction, tummy tucks and all manner of other ‘slimming’ surgeries in the past, the tide now seems to have turned as we now stigmatise slimmer women into thinking their bodies are unacceptable.

*sigh* I don’t know y’all. What we gon’ do? A certain body shape does not make you a ‘real woman’ – we’re all real women for God’s sake, and one’s size or shape does not make you superior. Perhaps it’s a well intentioned term, but am I the only one who finds it a bit condescending?

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