I am interrupting the blog post I’ve been working on about exercise and HAES and weight loss obsessive thoughts to say this:

“Real women have curves” was a marketing slogan thought up to sell people overpriced, ill-fitting pants. It does NOT promote body positivity – it only perpetuates body policing by turning the tables on people who don’t fit into yet another arbitrary ideal.

The job is to BUST THE FUCKING PARADIGM APART, not shift it a little bit toward the fat side. The job is to remind people, bodies are not public property and your opinion about an individual’s body is only an opinion, not a valid judgment of their worth as a human being. The JOB is to destroy systemic oppression of nonconforming, rebellious bodies no matter what those bodies look like.

Bodies naturally come in all types. It is ridamndiculous that our “acceptable” body standard, as a culture, has reached the point where even people held up as icons of perfection can’t actually achieve “acceptable” without being photoshopped to hell and back. Do we really need to have a discussion about how turning the tables and saying nasty things about those bodies actively hurts the cause of fat acceptance – not because it makes people think we’re mean but because WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT KIND OF BULLSHITTERY. I am not gaining my body liberation through the oppression of other bodies, people. That kind of fucked up body colonialism is unacceptable.

This is one reason I’m so over euphemisms for describing fatties. “Curvy” and “real” and all that bullshit just perpetuates the idea that that is ONE acceptable body type and that some people aren’t it. I know humans often seem to exhibit this impulse to categorize – not only to categorize but to assign qualitative value to – our world but, you know what? We have brains. We have self-awareness. We have the ability to think beyond our unthinking impulses.

Responding to oppression with more oppression doesn’t work, no matter how much marketers count on it making you feel good. Marketers are not trying to change the world – WE are trying to change the world.

Bodies are real, all of them. The end. Period.

(Also, also, if you look at someone and want to fuck them, that doesn’t make them automatically healthy. Stop conflating health and fuckability.)

Direct confrontation isn’t everyone’s bag, I totally get that. But if you have the energy for it and you see or hear someone blathering on about how “real women have curves” or about “skinny bitches” or whatever as if it’s supposed to be body positive? Please lay it out there that they aren’t helping. It doens’t have to be a fight. But I think it’s more and more important for us to grind this butt under our big fat heel until it is OUT, OUT DAMNED SPOT, to mix my metaphors.


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50 Comments

  1. Posted February 25, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this, it’s always going to be needed. I super super hate the word “curvy” or “curves” as a euphemism for fat. Not every fat body is curvy, I am not, but my body is just as valid as any other body.

    And “real” to mean fat is EVEN WORSE. Because what, skinny bodies aren’t real? People saying “real women have curves” leaves out SO MANY BODIES that it’s just ridiculous.

    • Ashbet
      Posted February 25, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      I don’t hate the word “curvy” as a self-descriptor, because it *can* be accurate and not just a euphemism — I am curvy. I am also fat. These things don’t cancel each other out.

      I do think that it’s ridiculous to use “curvy” or “voluptuous” because you’re *afraid* of saying “fat,” however . . . particularly when it comes to marketers.

      And the “real women have curves” thing pisses me right the fuck off — real women have a variety of bodies (and chromosomal arrangements.) A real woman is someone who asserts her womanhood, full stop.

      Also, Marianne — big love for the “fuckability” comment :D

      • Sarah TX
        Posted February 25, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I’m fat, but I don’t really have “curves” in the hourglass sense unless I specifically dress for them. I’m sort of shaped like a log.

        • silentbeep
          Posted February 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          Yup me too! I’m not curvy. I’m fat, and i don’t have a classic hourglass shape, at all. I have big boobs and a very big belly. Not curvy.

          Which is o.k. Other fat women have hourglass shapes and maybe curvy feels like a good self-descriptor for them? I don’t know, I’m just not one of them.

          Perhaps fat and curvy? I think one can be both :) Just not me lol

          • Ashbet
            Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            An ex-girlfriend of mine had big breasts and a big round belly, and I described her as having “the body of a fertility goddess,” with the most complimentary possible intonation. (She was *lovely!*)

            We had very different body types — I’m very hourglass-y (something like 48/38/48 and a size 18), whereas she had a softer silhouette and was about a size 26. I wouldn’t say she *wasn’t* curvy (she had an incredibly lush and feminine figure), but she wasn’t curvy in the sense of having the particular body shape that is often codified into that word (i.e., hourglass.)

            And I’ll use “voluptuous” (because it’s accurate on multiple levels — I *do* love food and pleasure!), but I won’t use “Rubenesque” for myself, because I don’t have the type of body that Rubens painted. (I’m also not especially fond of that particular descriptor, but I think that’s because it was in use EVERYWHERE as a throwaway substitute for plus-sized/fat for a while, and I got sick of it.)

            But, yeah — I think of myself as being both fat and curvy, because both are accurate in my case. And I totally defend the rights of other people to choose NOT to use those terms for themselves/other people, because they don’t feel like they fit.

            (As an aside — it’s strange how “fat” is assumed to be this *ahem* monolithic category, where if you’re over a certain size, you’re assumed to be a certain *shape* . . . when, in fact, fat women are gloriously all over the map when it comes to bodily proportions!)

          • tamarion
            Posted March 31, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            i too am not curvy. i gain all my weight in my tummy. esp since menopause. i have been a size five and wasnt happy with my body…still wasnt good enough, and i had to starve aand excercise for hrs daily to keep that figure. i am happier now accepting myself more.

  2. Sarah TX
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Ugh, I hate how discussions of body acceptance in non-safe spaces sometimes turns into “Dudes judgin’ ladies” time, like “Real women have curves! Skinny chicks look like boys!”

    No, they don’t look like boys. They look like freaking women because that’s what they are!

    Sorry for the !! it just makes me really angry that we are constantly judged on whether or not some random dude on the internet would sleep with us.

  3. Posted February 25, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Yes.

    I’m in a situation at work where I have to choose between being a bitchy “human beings come in a wide range of shapes and sizes” person or a “please love me, I will bow to your paradigm and constantly demean myself to do it.”
    I’ve decided the best strategy I have is to steer clear of situations where I’m going to have to mount my high horse and ride — to protect my ability to support my family until I can find another job. I will not pretend to be dieting or pretend to hate my body. I will avoid being in meetings where I my choices are to fight or flee.
    I guess I will be satisfied being a broken cog in the machine — for now.

    • Posted February 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      That whole situation sounds like my entire life with most social situations i go into, work or not. I am very hermetic as a result. Luckily, I’m naturally an introvert so it turns out o.k. If I was more extroverted, I don’t know what I’d do…

  4. bumerry
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    This.

    All bodies are real, and valuable and worthy of respect rather than ridicule.

    Because they house (or have) real human beings. Even if all X types of bodies ARE unhealthy, nobody has the right to disrespect of bully or make fun of the very real people with very real feelings inhabiting them. Disabled people deal with this shit all the time, and I think that’s why we get along so well and should join forces more with them, well, us (I’m in both groups but don’t disabled).

    Mary

  5. Posted February 25, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Here it is. The post I have been waiting for! Thank you SO much for this post! I was beginning to wonder how many people actually understood this, and I have been trying to post on it but haven’t found the right words I want to say to put it simply. But you did this beautifully! Seriously,

  6. Posted February 25, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Absolutely true about actual live women, but how about “Real women don’t look like they’re photoshopped”?

    • TR
      Posted February 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      But why do we need to judge that anyway? Real women have bodies. Unless I’m watching someone get photoshopped, I can’t tell you with certainty what is and is not the result of photoshopping because all bodies are different. The goal is to stop judging people’s bodies.

    • Posted February 26, 2011 at 1:36 am | Permalink

      Well I wouldn’t say that because I see lots of women in real life that do look photoshopped. They literally roll of of bed looking like they stepped off of a magazine cover, some even without any makeup on. We have to also quit kidding ourself by saying or thinking that every woman has freckles, wrinkles, cellulite, eye bags, stretch marks, acne etc. Some women are naturally free of all that, and I have come to accept that instead of chalking it up to makeup or possibly plastic surgery. I still don’t let myself judge them, or compare my body to theirs and feel inferior to them.

      • Sarah
        Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        Ashley, there are very FEW women in this world are “naturally” perfect. Maybe like 2 or 3? You absolutely cannot exist on this planet and not have a bump or two on your skin. In fact, I would say it’s impossible. Find me a natural redhead without freckles. Find me an old person who didn’t naturally wrinkle. Find me a man or woman who has never broken out. I dare you.

        There is absolutely no such thing as a perfect human being. It is genetically and environmentally IMPOSSIBLE.

        • TR
          Posted February 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          Who cares? I don’t know why this, of all things, is the big debate. There are redheads with no freckles. It’s fine! There are redheads with freckles, probably a lot more of them! That also is fine!

          What’s not fine is being all up in other people’s bodies judging them. THAT needs to stop and that extends to decreeing what is and is not possible when it comes to people.

  7. Posted February 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I think some of this falls under cultural appropriation.

    The genesis of real women have curves”> was about women in the flesh i.e. ‘real women’ wishing to assert their legitimacy after being compared to the airbrushed model of women presented in the medium of advertising.

    If you think about it, it even sounds like the answer to a question. Its the kind of response a lot of women I’ve known, grown up and mixed with (of differing cultural backgrounds) might give to that kind of impertinent comparison/question.

    Sorry, but not everyone expresses themselves the using the same idioms.

    And how would fat women originate this term when if there is one thing a lot of us don’t feel it’s real? Such is the extent to which our reality has endlessly been denied.

    The phrase “lack of credibility” comes up a lot.

    This kind of sass would be most likely to occur amongst those who are not really or don’t see themselves as fat per se but somewhere in between.

    And if some fat women have latched onto that to raise their confidence it might be a better idea to engage with that, rather than shut it down.

    I’ve no idea why fat women are uniquely equipped to shatter paradigms when clearly no one else seems to want or be able to manage it.

    Maybe it falls to black people to end all racial prejudice or women to end all mysogyny and perhaps gay people to end all phobia against sexualities.

    If we were better, we’d hardly have fallen for fat hating ourselves and maybe that would have broken it.

    Perhaps that’s why everyone’s so pissed off with us.

  8. Eve
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this. You have put it so well, as always.

    The whole “real women have curves” thing reminds me of my crankiness at department store sections. The plus size section is called “women,” and the “straight size” section is called “misses.” So fat women are women, but thin women are all unmarried and also not women? It bugs me. I guess I wish there was just one section called “women” which would be for all the women. Or if they need to have a separate plus size section, call it “plus.”

    The other thing “real women have curves” does is it gets the ire up of some thin women, who then assume that all fat women are looking at them and thinking “not a real woman.” Which makes me angry, since if they knew me at all they would know that for me “real women” includes all people who consider themselves to be women.

    • Posted February 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Sizes were developed with the first women’s read-to-wear. The initial size ranges were Misses and Ladies, where Misses were meant for teens or young women (read: still developing).

      Excerpt on the rise of the “Misses” sizes:

      Initially, all women’s clothing was sized according to the bust measurement. One of the first sizing innovations was to develop the misses size range, which morphed in the 1920s from a range intended for teens to a range intended for young to middle aged women. Many companies compromised by offering garments in both ranges, with 14 to 44 being the most common. Misses was originally size with a smaller bust-waist-hip ratio, and was numbered according to age (e.g. Size 14 years)

      A few stores offered specialty size ranges. “Juniors” had even smaller bust-waist-hip ratios than misses, and were named by odd years (e.g. “size 15 years”). Other stores didn’t use a different size range, but did advertise to a specific size of customer. From at least the early 1920s Lane Bryant advertised clothing for “stout” women: “sizes: 39 to 56 Bust.” Bromley-Shepard Co. considered any bust size over 42 to be an “out” size, and charged $5.00 more accordingly. Another store, WeeWomen Inc., advertised “Coats and Suits for little ladies…Flattering fashion and fit for the short woman and miss.” Important to note here is that the line for short women, what we now call “petite,” was available in both misses and ladies ranges. Wil Wite Swimming Suits included a size chart in their advertisement from the April 15, 1922 issue of Vogue that called size 32 and 34 “flapper,” probably a cute substitute for Misses.
      [...]
      By the 1940s, manufacturers had decreased the percent of garments offered in women’s sizes. Sixty-three percent of the garments advertised in Vogue were in misses’ sizes only. Ten percent were available in both misses and women’s, and juniors increased from one percent in the 1930s to ten percent in the 1940s. Garments available only in women’s sizes fell from forty-one percent in the 1930s to thirteen percent in the 1940s. Moreover, women’s sizes were primarily limited to blouses, slips, nightwear, and low-end advertisers.

      Clearly, manufacturers and advertisers were responding to the public. Most women would rather buy a garment that is labeled “size 14” than “size 32,” even if the sizes are based on the same measurements. The elimination of women’s sizes from commonly available clothing presents a problem. In theory, the women’s size range had a larger bust-waist-hip ratio than misses. Surely women as a group did not become less curvy from 1930 to 1949. Therefore, we must guess that manufacturers quietly changed the proportions of misses’ clothing to fit the most common figure type.

      As I have a 58″ bust, I am amused that I would’ve been too fat for Lane Bryant back then! ;)

  9. Posted February 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    YES! SING IT!

    Taking back fat as a descriptive (instead of a derogatory) term is SO VERY EMPOWERING! WOO!

  10. Gina
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi, great post. This week I happened by chance to have the telly on in the background while I went about my morning chores when I heard ‘Curves are back. Next, how to make the most of your curves’. (This occurred in Australia.) My interest piked despite myself I stopped and waited and watched. Turned out to be a segement promoting breast enlargement surgury. Arggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! It’s not about us darhling it’s about the cosmetic and medical industries or should I say the medicalisation of all things cosmetic…

  11. HW2K
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I used to love the “real women have curves” line, until I looked at my sister, remembered my gramma, two of my aunts. many of the women who have infuenced me greatly in my life, who I look up to and respect, and even a few women who I hated, but were WOMEN and realized that they weren’t curvy.
    I recently realized that I am not curvy, I am lumpy, I am hilly, I am rolly, occasionally wrinkly, sometimes sweaty or flushed, oily, pimply, oftentimes smelly, both in good ways and bad. I am real.
    A real woman is ANYONE who self-identifies as a woman, ragardless of shape. Fatness does not make me any more or less real than my sisters thinness.

  12. Posted February 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    woo radical lefty paradigm smashing!

  13. Elusis
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I have to say that I liked Red No. 3′s post about this issue. Though I agree with you, body-shaming has no place in a liberation movement, I did appreciate him articulating that there is a false equivalency trap that ignores the thin privilege smaller people, particularly women, have.

    I have had some pretty exasperating times with small women when FA has come up and they’re like “oh my god I KNOW, do you know how hard it is to find a size zero, people tell me to eat a sandwich, etc.” And the thing is that I have had exactly two friends in my life who were such extreme ectomorphs that they really did get pathologized all the time for the eating disorder they were assumed to have, but the vast majority of small women doing the “oh I get it, people criticize me too” thing? Are smack within the narrow range of the most privileged, valued, visually represented types of bodies. And so it is not cool, but it does not have the same oppressive power when they hear a fat person say “ugh, eat a sandwich” as it does when a fat person hears a thin person say “where’s my harpoon?”

    Sometimes the line between saying “we can be better than those who hate on us” and the tone argument (which I don’t think you’re making here) gets pretty blurry. And the relative space on the cultural map wherein women are urged to “love your curves” is so tiny compared to the space wherein they are urged to “bust that muffin top” and “find the fit that flatters your butt” and “lose two dress sizes in a month” that it’s pretty hard to feel like that’s where the energy needs to go, in snatching back that little bit of space created for curve-positivity because it isn’t inclusive of skinny people.

    • TR
      Posted February 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think there is any sort of equivalency – though I do come down on the side of fat acceptance being good for everyone because body fascism is bad for everyone.

      But in this specific kind of situation, I think we’re actively hurting fat acceptance – the fat acceptance we have for ourselves. Yes, it’s a small real estate in which you can hear “love your curves” but it’s, like, a swamp to trap us into still buying into the idea that there are acceptable and unacceptable bodies. Especially for people who don’t fit into that “curvy” mold. Like, at my size, while I think it’s superb to see smaller fats being touted as “normal” and “awesome”, it still sends a pretty distinct message to me that MY body is still not okay. If I were fat like that fat, it might be different but I’m not so it isn’t. Does that make sense?

      And it still all just perpetuates the idea that this is a competition – it shifts our focus, the whole playing field, back to something the mainstream beauty ideal is good at – judging and excluding bodies. It’s bullshit to tell a thin woman to eat a sandwich – not because it’s the same kind of oppression but because it is actively and truly WRONG to perpetuate oppression on others that way.

      THAT is what I’m trying to say. :)

      If our little bit of real estate is founded on making other people feel as shitty as we have been made to feel? I want no part of it.

      • Elusis
        Posted February 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        If our little bit of real estate is founded on making other people feel as shitty as we have been made to feel? I want no part of it.

        I certainly agree on that count.

    • Posted February 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      While false equivalencies are wrong, that does exclude discussions about counterproductive language and behavior. “Eat a sandwich” is wrong, just not the same thing as “Do as I say or die”. It’s still meaningful to say “Real” constructions are harmful and unjust.

      I would also note that while Fat Acceptance is often blamed for thin stigmatizing language, the truth is the people saying it overwhelmingly reject FA and many are openly hostile to fat people. Many who will say “real women have curves” are also quick to exclude the contours of fat bodies from their definition of “curves”. Those who say “eat a sandwich” are usually equally comfortable policing the consumption of fat people. Many blame FA for this out of a very unsupported notion that Fat Acceptance is necessarily anti-thin because the insist on seeing the binaries of their fat=bad thin=good perspective. These are NOT fat acceptance slogans. Marianne is quite right to note the are external slogans and as much a part of the problem as fat stigmatization.

      • Posted February 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Many who will say “real women have curves” are also quick to exclude the contours of fat bodies from their definition of “curves”. Those who say “eat a sandwich” are usually equally comfortable policing the consumption of fat people.

        Yes. It’s like they think there’s only one kind of body that’s appropriate and they should encourage everyone to adjust to be “correct”.

  14. Emerald
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Yes. This so needs saying.

    I happen to be a curvy – i.e. with a definite waist, bust and hips – British size 18, but ‘curvy’ is my shape, not my size. ‘Voluptuous’ is an interesting one – it isn’t even a term to do with appearance, it means ‘pleasure loving’. I think it’s telling that the Victorians would have used it more often to refer to a woman who was viewed as sexually debauched, whereas today it means she’s fat (probably with the implication that she likes food, rather than sex, a bit too much). And, as you point out, all women are ‘real’ – and not just our bodies but our minds, emotions, the whole caboodle.

    I spent many years within my own family being taught that appearance was the only thing that mattered for a woman, and that my body, and therefore my very self as a person, was unacceptable. I came out of that with a lot of anger, and it’s taken me a while to understand that I wasn’t accomplishing anything by turning the criticism back on the bodies of the perpetrators. Their attitudes, though…that’s a whole other story.

  15. Sarah
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    True. I had this problem of criticizing “skinny” chicks while not realizing that what I was doing is exactly what is done to “fat” chicks – dehumanizing and judgment based on a look or BMI number. It’s wrong, both ways. I am glad to have rid myself of a practice, because it has made me a better person.

  16. Posted February 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Great piece!

    “I know humans often seem to exhibit this impulse to categorize – not only to categorize but to assign qualitative value to – our world but, you know what? We have brains. We have self-awareness. We have the ability to think beyond our unthinking impulses.”

    I loathe this argument as used for any asshattery humans get up to. “We’re wired that way”. Right. We’re also “wired” to look at the harm we do, and to alter course when we believe it’s the right thing. People who say “we’re wired that way” are in a position they aren’t being hurt by the harmful paradigm espoused (actually, we are ALL hurt by perpetrating harmful worldviews, but some people don’t feel any acute sting and, sadly, don’t trust the others who earnestly say they ARE hurt, or, are too invested in what they GET from the toxic fantasy to give it up).

    I’m shaped a bit like a titsy potato. I don’t feel particularly “curve”y.

    • flightless
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      >> Right. We’re also “wired” to look at the harm we do, and to alter course when we believe it’s the right thing. <<

      THANK YOU. Yes!

  17. thirtiesgirl
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Yes yes yes!!! I am a fat woman who is not curvy and have often railed against the word “curvy” as a catch-all descriptor term for all fat women. Some fat women are curvy, and that’s great. Some fat women are not, and that’s great.

    Being fat also does not make me any more or less “real” than someone who is thinner than I am, or has a more proportional body shape than I do. One’s body shape does not dictate their “realness.” The fact that they exist does.

  18. Posted February 26, 2011 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Wait… what’s that sound? That’s the sound of Marianne hitting a nail right on the head!

    I totally get that the word “fat” is not ready to be used in marketing towards fat people just yet. I understand that there are still huge swathes of fat people who would run a mile from any product with the word fat attached to it.

    But all these stupid euphemisms that marketers use just get right up my butt. For one, I’m not curvy. I’m kinda lumpy really. Secondly, I’m real, you’re real, every woman is real (well, unless she’s a robot or a figment of our imagination).

    Why not market to the plus-size consumer, indeed ANY consumer, by using positive aspirations. There’s no shame in aspiring to glamour, or fun, or success and so on. I’d love to see a marketer sell me something that is going to make me feel good, not pigeonhole me as “real” because I fit their product.

    • Posted February 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      “not pigeonhole me as “real” because I fit their product.”

      Yes, this. Because the “real women” thing plays upon the insecurity created by the same cultural prejudices it is claiming to decry, yet perpetuates in a different way.

      “Real women” fashion offers nothing but a band-aid for the gaping wound opened by our fucked up culture and kept festering by the REST of the fashion industry. It doesn’t offer anything truly positive, only a patch for a problem they are helping to perpetuate.

      I shop at LB because they have the only panties and jeans that fit me comfortably, but their Real Woman dollars thing fucking pisses me off.

  19. Posted February 27, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Some of this is just the result input of Fat Admirers/Fetishers from the earlier (bad) years of Fat Acceptance. A lot of the ideologies from that era still haunt Fat/Size Acceptance.

    William

    • thirtiesgirl
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      I’d have to agree. Having spent some time on a FA (fat admirers’) forum for over 8 months, I saw this attitude from a lot of men on the site: fat women are “real,” in comparison to “skinny bitches,” and when a fat celebrity loses weight (for example Kelley Osborne), all of a sudden she becomes “a bobblehead on a stick body,” “she looked better when she was fat,” and has all sorts of body- and self-shaming comments made about her. It wasn’t just men making these body- and self-shaming comments, either. I read them from men and women alike. And if anyone tried to raise the idea that it’s Kelley Osborne’s body (or Kirstie Alley’s, Oprah’s, Sara Rue’s, etc) and her choice to do with it what she sees fit, they received all kinds of flak from those who prefer to practice fat acceptance by shaming those who are thinner, or choose to lose weight.

      • Posted February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        I agree that it’s the person’s right to choose whether or not to lose weight, and in the cases of the people you mentioned, I think it is a positive change. What gets me is Jennifer Hudson. Not anything she’s done, but how there is so much media focus on her weight loss. Last night on E!’s red carpet pre-Oscars show, the commentators (one of which was Kelley Osbourne) kept talking about her weight loss accomplishments and how she really looks beautiful now. And it’s the word “now” that irks me. I’m happy for her that she lost weight if that’s what she wanted to do. The comments they made were akin to “She overcame the insurmountable obstacle of being fat and won an Academy Award and a Grammy. Truly she is a triumph of the human spirit. Imagine what she can do now that she’s a normal human being worthy of praise!” (It obviously wasn’t that exact verbiage, but it was the underlying snark.) I thought she was beautiful before she lost weight, and I think she is beautiful at her current weight.

        But then again, watching E!, especially “Fashion Police” and any red carpet event is akin to the inner monologue of the bitchiest popular high school girl imaginable.

  20. Andrea
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    This is awesome, I am actually sending to my best friend to help her understand that FA is not about hating those who are thin. I related to her my experience hating myself and she instantly assumed I must have hated her because she is small in size but would constantly complain her weight. It was hard for her to understand that its not about hating someone else for their size but removing the judgment all together. Also recognizing where all of us bear the burden of body hatred regardless of size in this society because the goal/model is pretty much just a fiction of computer graphics.

  21. Poppy
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    All this talk about “real women” also perpetuates a cis stereotype. Like it’s really really important for a woman to be 100 % woman and not *gasp* something undefined inbetween.

    I’m not a trans man, but I might not be a cis woman either. Perhaps I’m best described as intergender. I won’t tell you the entire story of my life and my gender identity, but suffice to say that I feel really comfortable dressing in men’s clothes, and I feel really comfortable having narrow hips, no breasts to speak of and wide shoulders, i e a rather male-looking figure to go with these clothes. And there’s nothing wrong with that either.

    So I’m a woman sort of, not sure that I’m a real woman or a 100 % woman, and that’s ALSO okay. But it’s something people completely forget when they start discussing what is and what isn’t a real woman.

  22. Poppy
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Oh, and one more thing: At least here in Sweden it’s really common to blame homosexual fashion designers for the thin beauty ideal. You see, real heterosexual men prefer real women with curves, but the evil homosexuals want women to look like boys. People who utter these homophobic rants often seem to seriously believe they’re being body-positive…
    Apparently my husband must be gay then, since he thinks I’m hot with my androgynous looks.

    • HW2K
      Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Poppy,
      This cracks me up, as the majority of gay men that I personally know prefer fat women, looks wise.

      • Poppy
        Posted March 1, 2011 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        I know, I’ve tried to tell people. But so many people really love this “blame the gays”-theory of the thin beauty ideal that they won’t listen…

    • Posted March 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      That’s common in the US, too, at least in my experience.

  23. Posted March 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I tweeted this and I’m OBSESSED with this very issue. I work in fashion so see it first hand. Photoshopping not only problem but starving and self hate too. Ironic that many women “hate” models for perpetuating a thin ideal. Oh, baby, they hate themselves more than anyone could.

  24. Posted March 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I can’t say how much I LOVE this post enough! As a fat girl I can’t stand the ever-popular phrase of the century. “Real women have curves”. Yes, you’re right, if we’re living and breathing women, we all have curves. There’s no such thing as a woman who doesn’t have curves, even my lovely skinny sisters.
    You’ve stated what I’m trying to say with my senior thesis in an intelligent and concise way that I’m trying to.
    Body hate is counterproductive, and besides, it just makes one look like an idiot. I try to bash any ignorant ass who says “guys like real women” (why base our happiness on what others same sex or opposite sex think about our bodies) and “who’d want to fuck a stick?” etc, etc.

    I was glad to see it from a skinny person’s point of view, too:
    http://youlookfab.com/2010/12/17/skinny-women-are-real-women-too/#comment-236342

    (And if you’re curious about my thesis, check out my blog, linked to my name)

  25. Posted March 6, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I have curves and I am happy. A healthy woman has curves.

    • Gillian
      Posted March 7, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      Re. 23:
      You’re just replacing “real” with “healthy,” that’s not better. The whole point of the post is that we need to get rid of the idea that there’s one shape for a real/healthy/attractive/whatever woman’s body to be.

    • Jess(:
      Posted March 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      No, that’s the OPPOSITE of this. You can be healthy and have curves or no curves. You basically just stated the antithesis of this essay. Nice try, though.

  26. Kate
    Posted March 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Something that has helped me appreciate my body is to very deliberately, explicitly remind myself of my functionality. If I catch myself lamenting that all the fat deposition in my body is zoned to my ass (my poor strange ass) and NEVER ELSEWHERE, I just try to think of how generally decent my body is at doing its jobs. I think of all the nice organs cooperating together in my abdomen. When I take a poop, I say to myself, “what healthy bowels!” When I lift something heavy, I give my scrawny but eager-to-please arms a bit of praise. In consideration of my small breasts, I can now rejoice in not needing to wear a bra (though I still feel awkward when the outlines of my nipples are apparent; the ubiquity of bras has fostered this idea of breasts as glossy, buoyant hemispheres tacked over our pectoral muscles).

    Another awesome thing is to jiggle around and note the resonant frequency of one’s various compartments of fat and/or muscle. My ass: 2 Hertz.

    On a related note I mention body odor. Though I respect people who are genuinely excited about perfumes (I like imagining perfume distilleries, with rooms full of barks and roots and flower petals), I am a little horrified by stores’ walls of scented soaps, sprays, shampoos, lotions, douches, and deodorants. It seems absurd. And I guess that most of the purchasing of these items is not driven by love of soap, but by fear of body odors. Currently my armpit smells like salt and cumin. Perplexing, but somewhat enjoyable. My boyfriend can handle that. (His armpits smell like hazelnuts and bleach.)

    I guess the point is it helps to find joy in your body. Sniff your armpits till you like them. Jiggle your ass till you like it.

6 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marianne Kirby and Amazon Syren, Amal El-Mohtar. Amal El-Mohtar said: RT @TheRotund: Job Number One; Destroying the Paradigm, Not Shifting It: http://www.therotund.com/?p=1113 [...]

  2. [...] on body image, Marianne at The Rotund has this to say: “Real women have curves” was a marketing slogan thought up to sell people [...]

  3. By Visual-girl – You said it girl ! on March 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    [...] You said it girl ! Posted on Mar 03 in Featured, Media, Randomness, Realityby MarissaPrint “Bodies naturally come in all types. It is ridiculousness that our “acceptable” body standard, as a culture, has reached the point where even people held up as icons of perfection can’t actually achieve “acceptable” without being photoshopped to hell and back. Do we really need to have a discussion about how turning the tables and saying nasty things about those bodies actively hurts the cause of fat acceptance – not because it makes people think we’re mean but because WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT KIND OF BULLSHITTERY. I am not gaining my body liberation through the oppression of other bodies, people. That kind of fucked up body colonialism is unacceptable.” Marianne Kirby  – “Job Number One; Destroying the Paradigm, Not Shifting It” [...]

  4. By Visual-girl – You said it girl ! on March 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    [...] You said it girl ! Posted on Mar 03 in Featured, Media, Randomness, Realityby MarissaPrint “Bodies naturally come in all types. It is ridiculousness that our “acceptable” body standard, as a culture, has reached the point where even people held up as icons of perfection can’t actually achieve “acceptable” without being photoshopped to hell and back. Do we really need to have a discussion about how turning the tables and saying nasty things about those bodies actively hurts the cause of fat acceptance – not because it makes people think we’re mean but because WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT KIND OF BULLSHITTERY. I am not gaining my body liberation through the oppression of other bodies, people. That kind of fucked up body colonialism is unacceptable.” Marianne Kirby  – “Job Number One; Destroying the Paradigm, Not Shifting It” [...]

  5. By All Women Are Real Women « Rachel Yamahiro on March 12, 2011 at 3:36 am

    [...] ”Job Number One; Destroying the Paradigm, Not Shifting It [...]

  6. [...] recently read a blog post that my friend Sarah linked me to on The Rotund. The post is about how real women come in all [...]

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