7.1
January 22, 2012

Can We Retire the Phrase “Real Women,” Please?

A “best of elephant journal” piece that serves to balance our recent hit: This is What a Real Yoga Body Looks Like and its response: I’m a Skinny Yogi & I’m a Real Woman & I’m not Anorexic.

 What does it mean to be a “real woman?”

(Photo: Twitpic)

 

This phrase gets thrown around all the time.

Do any of us meet the criteria? Apparently, skinny is out, unless you are skinny and awkward. Fat’s okay. If you’re overweight, you can be a real woman. Pretty? Well…you can be pretty, but not too pretty. Better if it’s an unconventional kind of pretty. You can have gorgeous eyes, but you’d better have a big nose. You can have a great ass, but only if you are flat chested.

I have blonde hair, blue eyes, and a pair of 36C’s going for me, so I might not fit the real woman criteria. But, I’m also pretty nerdy, only 5’4″ and have enough freckles to spot a baby leopard, so maybe that puts me back in the real woman category. Plus, I’ve had two kids so things aren’t quite where they were ten years ago. I guess I qualify.

Why do we do this? Isn’t the point to embrace that we are all beautiful? The first time I read about the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty a few years ago, I thought it was wonderful. I do think it’s wonderful that we make a point of looking at what people look like before Photoshop. But sometimes I feel like it’s become just another way we compete with each other.

You’ve probably seen the picture above making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. At face value, there’s a good point to be made. There are popular young actresses that embody a physical ideal that most women can’t maintain if they want to be healthy. I battled an eating disorder for many years. I don’t want my daughter looking at skeletal women as role models.

But some women have skinny bodies. Some are curvy. Some are fat. Some are tall. Some are…all kinds of things in between. And when I hear women tear other women down because they happen to meet some conventional standard of beauty, I have to wonder…how is this better? We’re always crying “oh poor us, society has this unrealistic standard that we just can’t meet!” Then, we turn around and do it to each other all over again.

How many women would complain about Kathryn Budig’s Toesox ads or Briohny Smyth’s Equinox video if they were less conventionally beautiful or had flabbier bodies? Women would be singing their praises as “real women” role models.

Let’s let it go. Call a moratorium on the whole “real women” thing. There are so many ways for women to be; all of them are real.

The problem isn’t any one kind of real beauty being better than the others.

The problem is the Photoshopping, the constant inundation of glossy, unreal images that make us forget. We forget that our beauty is a story; each one is different–and that’s what makes them wonderful.

Let me remind you:

She is beautiful

 

And she is beautiful

 

And she is beautiful

 

 

And you and I are beautiful, too.

We all have parts of us that are glossy and smooth. We have parts that we shine forth proud as peacocks.

And we all have parts that we want to hide away.

(Photo: wikimedia)

 

(Even she does)

 

Your beauty is a true story.

The parts that are unique are the parts that make it interesting.

The woman next to you has a different story; it isn’t better than yours, it isn’t worse.

Let’s remember the parts that we want to flaunt and be proud about, that shine forth, are no less “real.” We needn’t be embarrassed by our “ugly” or our “imperfect”…or, importantly, our “proud.”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

~ Marianne Williamson

~

Yoga, weight loss, racism, self-acceptance, humor:

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Kristy Horn Jun 3, 2015 7:49pm

Thank you!!! I am so SICK of seeing phots like that, filling the news feed of Facebook. I am and have always been very thin. And I eat more then most people I know. I have been teased my whole life for it. Now im 33 still very thin. And am made to feel ashamed of it. Because im not “curvy” or apparently “real” im GLAD you used that particular photo, because it has been circulating far too much. You nailed this article. And its NOT a shocker you are receiving negative feedback to such a perfect example, of what we are all doing to our image obsession and what we should REALLY be saying.

People will always be so closed minded and down right RUDE about this subject. And somehow its the skinnies who aren’t “allowed” to be offended, yet we are the ones being shamed for being born thin.

Cant we just all agree to find beauty in derversity? And have our own idea of what we find beautiful, and NOT feel the need to shame others, to attempt to feel better about ourselves?

Gwen Jun 3, 2015 6:10am

We need to effin retire “accusing” people of being anorexic! It’s a mental illness and has the highest mortality rate. We don’t taunt the bald girl saying “lung cancer…pfft, smoker”.

Real women are all shapes and sizes. Women with anorexia don’t starve themselves to fit into a bikini or for attention; they do it because they hate themselves and want to die. They are still real women.

Claudia Dec 15, 2014 7:58pm

I'm thin, I'm not a curvy woman, it makes me be less hot? as the image says

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Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven.
She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds.
Kate’s books are now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives.

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