The Rabbit Hole

Eleanor Venables is a 20-something living in regional Australia who is trying to figure out this thing called "adulthood".

On “real women” and why you should STFU about what defines one

By Eleanor Venables

I’d just like to take a moment to talk about an image that’s been circulating on my Facebook news feed these past couple weeks. 

You may have seen it; it initially popped up on Reddit and since leaked onto FB:How is saying "curves are better than skinny" any different to saying "skinny is better than curves"?

Rather than individually cause a spat with my probably well-intentioned friends who post this, I figured I’d address the ways in which this gets my goat through this post.

Firstly, I really hate that this focuses purely on the perceived attractiveness of the women featured. It reinforces the message that our bodies should primarily exist purely for the viewing pleasure of others. That, and it also overlooks the fact that “hotness” is an entirely subjective and highly variable thing; that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. 

Some people like slender people. Some people like curvy people, and some people like obese people. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to certain body types, so quit trying to tell people what they should and shouldn’t find appealing. 

It also implies that to be thin obviously must equal that one is anorexic, and that being curvy is the domain of real, healthy women. Because we can judge how healthy someone is purely by looking at them. 

Keira Knightley has had to time and time again refute claims that she’s anorexic. She’s said on the record that she has visited the doctor to ask how to put weight on. Quite simply, she’s naturally a very slim person. Who are we to say that her body is unattractive for doing its own thing? 

On the flipside, Marilyn Monroe was considered by doctors to be a functioning drug addict. Remind me again who is the “healthier” of these two? 

The general defence for this attitude is that “healthy should be sexy”, but what it actually seems to say instead is “curves are healthy, therefore sexy.”

This falls into that dangerous way of thinking about “real” women; that real women have tits, ass and curves, and talks about the strategic placement of body fat as though it’s some sort of holy grail all women should aspire to. 

Thing is, though, for some women, that is completely unachievable. Just like how I, with what I refer to as a “Reubenesque” figure, will never have the physique of someone like Keira Knightley, so too will some women just never be able to put weight on their ass and boobs. 

And that’s totally fine. Fighting a doomed battle against genetics for something as arbitrary and subjective as being attractive is ridiculous. 

This thinking, that only “real women” have curves, is just as damaging and hurtful as the notion that women cannot be sexy unless they are thin. 

Don’t dress this shit up under the pretenses of loving your body, or body acceptance. It’s simply tearing others down for their body types to make yourself feel better. It’s childish and hurtful. 

As for healthy being sexy; health is by no means restricted to a size 10, or having a curvaceous figure. Health is determined by a number of factors - smoking, diet, exercise, and yes, body fat percentage - but your dress size is not one of them, especially when we consider how fucking scattered women’s clothing sizes can be. 

Can we move on now? I’m thoroughly sick and tired of this stupid “us vs them” thinking. Just respect your body and fuck the haters. 

  • 22 January 2012
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