On 'Real' Women


Real women have curves. These curves can come in all sorts of variations. Some are curvier than others, and some could be described as…well, straight. More like lines. But real women have those, too.

Actually, being a woman has nothing to do with shapes, or with the lack thereof.

"Curves" are not the distinguishing factor between "real women" and other women (who, btw, are also real). That idea has to stop.

Before you freak out, no, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with women wanting to be represented as more than just supermodels. I am simply trying to point out a contradiction with a phrase used in certain circles, supposedly as part of a “body positivity movement,” i.e. all bodies. My body positivity movement celebrates being bigger, smaller, in-between, a pear, a peach, a plum – whatever and however we choose to define ourselves.

We do not need to use language that implies that if a woman does not have curves, she does not count in the census. It’s counterproductive. It is putting a definition to something that does not need a definition. A woman is a woman. Period.

I am a naturally thin girl. I always have been. I come from a line of fast metabolisms and no boobs. I was asked in middle school if I was anorexic. I heard comments from people in high school that I needed to eat more. I was constantly comparing myself to others, wishing I could fill out my clothing. I had self-esteem issues, just like every other girl.

Am I comparing my plight to that of the heavier girl? Certainly not. I can acknowledge that my shape is the idealized one—the one that is impressed upon the minds of women everywhere, the one to strive for. I was never called fat, and I can only imagine the implications of the unrealistic beauty standards that have been set upon anyone that was not born a size 0.

I, however, do not appreciate or support any type of language that claims to promote body positivity while it bashes girls in the process. Saying that men like curves and “only dogs like bones,” is not nice. Writing songs that imply that the only way to get a man is to have an ass and shake it is not helpful. (And frankly, it's not very respectful of women on either sides of the spectrum. Is our only objective to impress men? Let’s hope not.)

Body positivity? That, to me, is extending an arm and welcoming women of all shapes and sizes. It’s saying, “I’m a size 2, you’re a size 8, and she’s a size 16—and we’re all beautiful.” Curves or not, we all matter, and we are all, very much, real women.

Emily Holloway is a taller-than-average senior at Arizona State University who is constantly reminded that she is tall and should play basketball (she doesn't). Her goals after graduating include working for a publishing company and living in the city like the glamorous Carrie Bradshaw. She also likes to see herself traveling the world. Her time not spent daydreaming about the future is probably spent at brunch or Target. She credits her Jameson and Ginger Ale affinity to her study abroad roomie, to whom she says, "Cheers!"

Photo credit: Rafael Edwards