Last week at work, when walking to the break room, I ran into a customer I haven't seen in over a year. "You've lost weight!" he exclaims. I nod and then he says, "But you've lost too much; now you've lost all of your curves." A few months ago, again at work, a fellow co-worker and I were discussing better employment opportunities. I mention being a beverage server at the higher class casino in our town, and he looks me up and down before saying, "They have appearance requirements. You're pretty enough, but you're sort of shaped like a boy." When the thousands of people relink my weight loss pictures all over the internet, over half of the comments made are not congratulating me for setting a personal and healthy goal and successfully reaching it, but instead making degrading, abrasive comments regarding my body and what it should be and mentioning how I look fake and anorexic. On a fashion forum once, there was a discussion about curvy body types and how to dress them. When I gave advice based on my own experience as a curvy girl, I was met with derisive laughter and being openly told one has to have curves to be curvy. Does any of this sound familiar yet?
I'm sure we've all seen that picture circulating Facebook and other social media websites. You know which I mean, too. The top row had a few pictures of smaller women in bikinis and then another row of voluptuous pin-up girls, with text that read, "When did this... become hotter than this?" And inevitably, it was relinked all over the internet, with people heralding curvy women and shaming any other woman who didn't fit into this body type. When that picture was linked on Facebook, the comments were cruel and insulting, ranging from men making the absurd claim that anyone who is attracted to skinny women are pedophiles to hordes of women teaming up together in attacks on what a REAL woman is. Never mind the fact that we can't control where we gain or lose fat- and yes, as beautiful as curves are, they are technically fat- and that only 8% of women even have hourglass figures. What about the women who are naturally very skinny and have been teased for not being womanly their entire lives? What about my best friend, who looks at pictures of small-waisted, large-hipped women and suddenly feels down about her body because she looks like neither category of women represented in all of these arguments? Why does society feel compelled to attack all other body types in order to make another more accepted?
Real women this, real women that. What is a real woman, I ask you? I see that phrase thrown around so much, and I don't even think most women or even men know what they really mean. The definition even seems to change based on context. Is a woman more or less real because of something as arbitrary or uncontrollable as her body type? So if a woman lacks a generous bosom, does that somehow make her less of a woman? If she gets breast implants because society has told her she wasn't womanly enough, is she now somehow a fake woman? Oh, so it's the fake breasts that somehow make her less womanly. Well, on that note: do you use a bronzer or tanning lotion? Hair extensions? Make-up? Hair dye? Fake nails? Push-up bras? Even clothes can be considered as appearance enhancers! Who are we to judge other women for enhancing or changing their bodies when most of us do it too?
Why is it unacceptable for society to imply anything over a certain weight is unattractive, but not unacceptable for us to say, "Shame on you, society, for imposing such high standards on women and making us insecure. We oppose your warped standards, and we think beauty is arbitrary and not defined by your laundry list of expectations." By putting down any other women for their appearance- whether natural or altered- you are essentially not just throwing stones back at the media, but at every other woman. In fact, you're doing exactly what the media has been doing to us. If you really want to make a difference, then oppose the media, and oppose any silly standards that claim you are only attractive if you fit certain criteria!- but not other women. In fact, most women feel most unattractive because of comments made and judgement passed by their own peers rather than the subliminal messages made by the media. All women are real women, and all women are beautiful, whether we're your personal cup of tea or not. It might start with the media, but it ends with us