‘Congratulations’, the Facebook post read, ‘on using real women instead of stick thin models’.
Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one to cringe at the author’s choice of words. As is the way with social media, many others had already weighed in to express a similar sentiment to my own; being curvy does not grant exclusive rights to the label ‘real’.
‘I am naturally thin, does that make me a sham?’ one person commented under the post.
The author of the original comment – standing in her grave, spade firmly in hand – replied to her multiple prosecutors with: ‘I only meant that the company are promoting healthy looking women instead of girls who under-eat and who aren’t healthy’.
Essentially, we all understand what she was trying to say, and was probably well-intentioned in her remark. Unfortunately, describing anyone as a ‘real woman’ instantly means there is a opposite: fake women, fraudulent women, women who aren’t real.
I could quite easily finish this article with the sentence: ‘All women are real women – so stop with the nonsense’, but since I am a writing a blog, and believe in elaborate arguments, I’m going to expand on my thinking.
All women are real women
If you’re a size 10, a size 12 or a size 14, you’re a real woman. If you’re a size 22, guess what, you’re a real woman. If you suffer from an eating disorder and struggle to reach more than a size 6, you’re a real woman.
If you’re a mum, a lawyer, a model, an accountant, a nurse, a doctor or a farmer – you’re a real woman. If you’re tall or short, White, Black, Asian or Hispanic, rich or poor, fertile or infertile, happy or sad, in good health or ill health, you’re a real woman.
You may have parts of you that aren’t real, or you might regularly alter parts you were born with. But that doesn’t mean you are any less ‘real’ as a whole. I’m sure, by this point, you get my drift.
Much has been said recently on the subject of body shaming. And, although there is a long way still to go towards equal representation, there has been a long awaited push towards introducing women of all shapes and sizes into advertorial content and the media generally. However, we must make sure that the tide that was, until recently, so against representing larger ladies, doesn’t turn against those the media have typically embraced.
As far as possible, all women deserve to be acknowledged and represented, even those body types that have held the media limelight for so long.
There isn’t one shape that owns the right to ‘real woman’ status. Yes, ‘real’ is just one word. But in a world dominated by image, soundbites and quick remarks on social media, we need to make sure we continue to use words correctly, lest we forget their meaning.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of real is:
Real (Adjective): Actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.
I support representation of real women of all shapes and sizes. Not imagined women. Real women.