We received an e-mail from Chictopia user Monique of PetiteAvenue. She brought up a good point about what defines a “real woman”—a term often used to describe a woman with curves.
“After reading your posts about dressing for petite and tall body types, as well as Style Pantry’s recent interview regarding racism in fashion, I wanted to express myself and my thoughts to the Chictopia community. The term “real women” gets tossed around yet it tends to focus only on certain groups of people. Usually these are women who are not stick-skinny and are more curvy. I would love to know what the rest of the community thinks on this subject!"
Here’s what Monique had to say:
Real or Not Real?
Because of the continuous coverage about the looks of celebrities, models, and trendsetters, the perception of beauty constantly gets skewed. Often times it leaves many women feeling insecure about themselves. What I’ve noticed – after perusing hundreds of magazine spreads, articles, photos, and blogs – is that either the writers or readers comment on how these are not accurate portrayals of “real” women. Sure, what are the chances of you walking by a Victoria’s Secret supermodel on any given day? Maybe if you live in New York or wait outside the Ford modeling agency, but still, chances are pretty slim.
I remember reading about Scott Schuman’s post about blogger/photographer Anjelika on The Sartorialist back in March – it created quite the conversation. Although the photo was meant to showcase Anjelika’s great sense of style, the comments focused on how Schuman should not have described her as “curvy” and used “normal” instead. Schuman brought up that when he does post photographs of women similar to Anjelika, readers get upset about the terminology being used and their political incorrectness. Fighting over what words to use takes away from the true purpose of the photograph, which is to inspire.
Even when I read articles, on Yahoo’s Shine for example, they write about what “real” women look like or how the models coming down the runway aren’t representing “real” women in the real world. Then I think, of course not everyone is 6 feet tall with a size 2 waist, but they are women. When I read some of these articles, it does make me feel a bit excluded because they claim that “real” women have curves (!), they have hips (!!), breasts (!!!), and thighs (!!!!). Well, let me tell you that I, along with a lot of other women, do not have these womanly features they speak of. So does that mean… I’m not real?
There are other body types out there and I don’t think any one group should be excluded or made to feel like they don’t count as women. Sizes and body features don’t make any one person less real than another.
Maybe it would be better if people said “average” instead adding on “real”, that way you know they’re talking about the average in a population statistically speaking. Or perhaps stop using the term “real” or “normal” altogether and just use woman! Because honestly, whether you’ve got legs that go for miles, or short ones like mine, or have voluptuous Marilyn Monroe curves, or non-existent ones, we’ve all got something similar: we’re all women. Besides, we really shouldn’t be tied to such terms and allow them to define us.
Monique is attending FIDM in San Francisco and will graduate in December 2011. She’s spent the last year interning at a variety of places as a product developer, stylist, and design intern. She recently started her own fashion blog as a means of expressing herself through her point of view as a petite while pulling inspirations from other blogs, magazines, and street styles.