Real Women Have … Bodies

Posted by Nancy Lynne Kanter on Jan 17, 2012 in Beauty, Body Image, Celebrities, Competition, Dieting, Relationships, Self-esteem |

 

The other day, my friend shared this image on my Facebook wall. I’m sure she had good intentions, as did the creator. At first glance, it seems like a girl-power-feel-good-kind-of-message that challenges the pressure to be thin, similar to the “real women have curves” mantra made popular by the movie of the same name. It seems to be about women celebrating their curves, accepting their bodies, and not buying into the extreme dieting mentality.

 

But it’s not. This image is about shaming thin women about their bodies under the guise of empowering heavier women. It’s just the other side of the same coin.

 

What about women who are naturally thin? Or naturally not as curvy? Are they less hot? Are they not real women? Comparing is just one more way for us to separate ourselves.

 

Most of us struggle with our weight, so being in the public eye would most assuredly have an impact on how celebrities feel about their own bodies. Heidi Montag had 10 plastic surgeries so that she could look hot enough. Tabloid rumors have accused Nichole Ritchie and Keira Knightley of having eating disorders, and Kirsten Dunst was on the cover of Star Magazine for having one of the “worst beach bodies,” so it’s not as if any of them are being celebrated for their bodies at the moment. The media’s pretty arbitrary anyway about what constitutes the hot-kind-of-thin vs. the anorexic-kind-of-thin. It’s a fine line, and those celebrities who cross it are publicly shamed on tabloid covers. I’m sure Bettie, Shirley, Elizabeth, and Marilyn faced their share of scrutiny and pressure as well based upon the beauty standards of their time. Elizabeth Taylor, for one, suffered from both eating disorders and substance abuse. Considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world, she was once quoted as saying, “I don’t like my voice. I don’t like the way I look. I don’t like the way I move. I don’t like the way I act. I mean, period. So, you know, I don’t like myself.”


Beauty is subjective. Others’ opinions about us are irrelevant — what matters most is how we see ourselves.

 

The body snarking, the gossipy headlines about who has anorexia or who’s getting fat, the who’s hotter comparisons — these all promote the age-old competition to determine the fairest of them all. And eating disorders are part of this futile attempt to fit what society deems “hot”.

 

There’s value in simply being who we are, whether we’re thin or fat or have curves or not. So, in response to the question: “When did this become hotter than this?”, here’s another question: Why do we have to cut someone else down to feel better about ourselves?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jeanine.leguit Jeanine Leguit

    I totally agree with this article! I’m a natural skinny girl, and I quite get annoyed by these posts about curvy girls vs. skinny girls. The only thing that counts is if the person in that body is happy and healthy with his body, not if she is skinny or curvy. Every woman who loves herself is beautiful. Just be confident and everyone will think you are pretty. Even if people say you are fat or anorexic (which I have heard many times), you know better about yourself than they do. Mostly it is just jealousy talking. You are beautiful, just the way you are!

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  • Sophie

    I hate this picture too! Please read my post on it at sophietheodore.blogspot.com

    x

    • Nancy

      Love your website & sense of humor. :)

  • Wanderlustlily

    I honestly think there a lot of people posing as “naturally thin”, when they’re really “not eating.”

    I have no issue with most of my slim friends, but from my own private experience, MANY of them are anorexic and bulimic, and are helping to add to the objective of being “effortlessly slim.” For most women, that’s a fallacy, and not obtainable.

    For the very few out there who are naturally svelte and skinny, good for you. If it’s healthy for you to consume enough calories per day to survive and be nourished, AND be an itty bitty dress size, bravo. I begrudge you nothing.

    I don’t think that’s very many of you.

    For every friend I have who claims to be slim without effort, there’s at least 2 or 3 who watch calories like a hawk, or barf after ever meal. So please, don’t pretend like that’s ALL that common to be slim while not paying attention to diet or exercise. I’ve caught no less than three bulimics in my life who feigned natural slim while barfing and making all of us “natural fatties” feel like we lost the genetic lottery.

    I don’t pretend that my extra curves come from eating a diet of celery and salad; don’t act like your tiny form is a result of burgers and fries. Nobody buys it, and honey, neither do you.

    • Nancy

      Well said! You’re absolutely right. There’s a lot of shame in admitting to eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia. But by pretending their thinness is effortless, they’re just feeding the shame in themselves and in the women around them. For some, being thin is effortless, but for many of us it’s not.

      It’s such a common part of women’s relationships to obsess over calories, get excited about the newest fad diet, talk about how “bad” we’ve been for simply indulging in dessert, or comment on how ___ has gained/lost weight. Even without starving or making oneself barf, all that obsessiveness and disproportionate attention on weight sounds a bit eating disordered in itself.

  • Guest

    I love this so much. All my life I’ve been put down by so many guys and girls because im “lanky”, “skinny” and a “stick”. I’ve been this way all my life. Some of my best friends are bigger girls and I love them like sisters. Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they have anything against bigger people or girls with curves. Some people can’t help it.

    • Nancy

      You’re exactly right! :) The criticisms and competition are really about insecurity. They separate us from other women, especially the ones we view as threats. And the competition can totally go either way – “curvy” girls may envy “skinny” girls for weighing less; conversely “skinny” girls may envy “curvy” girls for their curves. It’s a no-win battle that just ends up feeding the beast and keeping us all focused on how our bodies don’t measure up to some arbitrary ideal.

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  • http://abrightcontainer.tumblr.com/ manybellsdown

    I’m sure you remember how ridiculously skinny I was back in the day, and I got crap for that too. I was a “barbie”, I was “anorexic”, I was a “pirate’s dream”.

    I think maybe if women are busy being miserable about themselves, they won’t be taking over the world… ;)

    • Nancy

      Ugh. Isn’t it all so ridiculous? And I don’t even get the “pirate’s dream” comment – unless you had a chest filled with gold doubloons?! ;) I got called “china doll,” not because I’m Chinese, but because my skin was so pale. Kids can be such little jerks; unfortunately, many adults have the same mentality. :/

      You have an excellent point! The more we obsess about how we look, the less energy we have to devote to more meaningful pursuits. (btw – I discuss this very thing in my book.)

      • http://abrightcontainer.tumblr.com/ manybellsdown

        Pirate’s dream = sunken chest. And I’d forgotten about “China doll”, I used to get that one a lot as well.