I have a love-hate relationship with the term 'real women.'
As I said in my post about panic disorder, I think being open and honest about what we're really like as humans is ultimately a good thing. Not that every individual needs to share deep and personal information, but in general I believe that a wee dollop of honesty helps everyone. So I am cool with the concept of 'real women' - of all women being able to talk openly about how they really are. Myths have damaged a lot of women.
But. I detest a lot of the ways in which I see the phrase 'real women' used.
I have found that the term 'real women' is very often a euphemism for 'women above a certain weight.' There are Facebook groups with names like 'Real Women Have Curves!' and 'Real Women Eat Cake!' and such. I have heard men declare their preference for 'real women' when what they mean to say is 'I prefer women of a particular size or shape. I am choosing to use an insanely prejudiced term to express a perfectly acceptable preference.'
We're all real, folks. If you don't like some of us, that's life. But don't say any woman isn't 'real' because her body doesn't conform to what you like.
Real women have curves. They have lumps and bumps. They also have slim waists, flat stomachs, toned butts and every damned thing in between. And it's all cool.
We live in a society that likes to tell us we need to be super-skinny. That's crap, and it's great that people are embracing the idea that this isn't necessary, and owning their curves.
But seriously, it's time to start thinking about the language we're using for this backlash. Can it maybe not be so freaking nasty and exclusive?
The oft-quoted statistic is that the average British woman is a size 14 to 16, depending who you ask (for US readers, think 12 to 14). Yet a size 14 to 16 is perceived as large. It's good that we're more aware that not every woman fits into the profile that the media tells us is attractive - in fact, very few do.
And yet, there's more to that statistic than meets the eye. By definition, if 14-16 is average, then a lot of women must be below that weight, and equally a lot of women must be above it. Let's take a look at one woman who is a size 8 and one who is a size 22.
She might be healthy. She might be unhealthy. She might be far from her ideal weight. She might have an eating disorder. She might be beautiful. She might be sexy. She might be married or single.
Every one of those statements could apply to either woman.
So why do some people say that the smaller woman isn't real?
Women claiming their own appearance and accepting themselves is a wonderful thing, and I hope it continues. The next step is to learn to make ourselves feel good without using language that dehumanises and defeminises any woman. Because if you can only feel good by putting someone else down, that's called bullying. And everyone agrees that that sucks.