I recall being a junior at my all-girls private high school when my teacher made the entire class watch the movie “Real Women Have Curves.” This movie, of course, supplemented the teacher’s lecture and discussion about self-image and the self-esteem issues that many woman face today; teenaged girls seemed like the perfect audience for this movie. “Real Women Have Curves” follows the story of Ana Garcia, a young woman who attempts to find the balance between the morals and values of Latina culture and her family’s wishes, and her personal dreams of pursuing a college education at Columbia University. In addition to this main plot line, Ana deals with self-image issues, develops a relationship with a boy, and eventually accepts her curvy body type and overall self-image.
While this movie is not solely based around the idea that “Real Women Have Curves,” I couldn’t help over thinking this statement. If taken at face value, it is safe to assume that if real women have curves, then women who don’t have curves, are less “real,” or less of a woman. Now, this observation is not to undermine the message of the movie, which of course seems to encourage positive body image and provide insight on the more socially acceptable stick-skinny body image. However, as a naturally thin girl myself, I couldn’t help but to think how pejorative this statement can be.
Before I continue, I bet a lot of you are rolling your eyes and might see this opinion as “snobbish” and perhaps sensitive. Understandably, the media seems to be filled with images of beautiful, tall, lean women; It’s no doubt that this image of the skinny woman monopolizes the fashion and entertainment industries. It is obvious that the media fails to portray the diversity of all body types.
However, while I believe the saying “Real Women Have Curves” has a great underlying message (acceptance of non-conventional body-types, embracing a curvier body, positive self-image, going against the ideals of conventional beauty), I still believe that this undermines other woman with the skinnier body-type.
I acknowledge that there are many women who continuously strive for an unrealistic skinny body image; however, there are plenty of women who are naturally skinny as well.
I have worn the sizes 00 and XS for as long as I remember. Now, this is not to say that I’ve always desired or enjoyed being this way. Growing up around Filipino culture and values, I was constantly told that I was “too skinny” or that I “needed to eat more” or that I should strive to be more like girls who had a more curvier body
. I remember how I actually wanted to gain more weight, because I didn’t want to be “too skinny.” I even remember in high school when someone commented that I looked “anorexic.” Was this supposed to be a compliment? No, it was obviously used in a derogatory manner. I know for a fact that there are many other women who have dealt with similar issues.
What I’m trying to get across here is that calling someone “anorexic” and “too skinny” can be just as rude and insensitive as calling someone “fat” or “overweight.” While it may not seem like it, it’s important to keep in mind that every single person has their own body issues and image. If it is socially unacceptable to call someone “fat” then why in the world would it be acceptable to call someone “anorexic”?
Is it fair to be more sensitive to women who are insecure about not being skinny enough? Are skinnier women not allowed to love her body as well or be proud of her body? Is a woman less pretty because she was born with with an A cup? Is a woman “less womanly” or “less real” because she is not “curvy”?
I’m not opposed to the self-empowerment that the statement “Real Women Have Curves” can instill in some women. However, I do contend that it is unfair that this statement demeans another women’s body type. Although this statement is meant to empower and go against the ideals of beauty, I don’t think that people realize that statement can subvert the empowering message of this statement. By trying to go against society’s norms of beauty and body image, it is also instilling another value of body image–that being skinny is not as beautiful as being curvy.
I just think that people need to rethink the ways in which one attempts to empower themselves. It should never be at the cost of anyone else. Shouldn’t these campaigns empower all women? I think we can all agree that not everyone is meant to look like Kim Kardashian or have her curvy body. I think we can also agree that not everyone is going to be stick-thin like Kate Moss. Then, why can’t we just agree that being “healthy” (defined by one’s own body type) is what makes a woman “real”?