Rethinking the statement “Real Women Have Curves”


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”?

curvesIs 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”?



Images used were taken from The Feminist Review, BusinessInsider, and EOnline

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SHOWHIDE Comments (39)
  1. Thank you for another informative web site. Where else could I get that kind of information written in such an ideal way? I’ve a project that I am just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

  2. Skinny women can have curves, too! Kate Winslet and Kate Moss have the same body proportions, except those of waist to height. Their waist-to-hip ratios are both about 0.7 and their bus-to-twist rations in the 0.9-1.0 range. Those are the ideal proportions for a woman.

    What makes a woman “real” is having the right hormones to create those ideal proportions. “Healthy” is not enough. Proportions matter.

    For men, there are ideal proportions as well. They are: shoulders 1.618 times waist; waist 0.88-0.92 times height. A big man like me will not, when done losing fat, be nearly as thin as a rower or basketball player *with those same proportions*. I’m going to be heavier. Likewise, an ectomorph will have less mass *at those same proportions* than an athlete, but STILL look hot. That’s the nature of form and proportion.

  3. I’ve never liked the saying “real women have curves” for the very same reasons Jamie Santiago points out in this article. As far as I’m concerned, the only criteria for being a real woman is to have a vagina.

    I am neither curvy or skinny. Im just sort of brawny. So if a womans proportions arent ideal, she isn’t a real woman? Yikes. Quite frankly Revd, that’s a little shallow.

    1. So a transwoman without a vagina isn’t “real”?… see, even that concept of being a woman is problematic and hurtful.

      1. No the biological definition of being female is not problematic it is a very specific set of hormones in combination with a very specific set of organs…
        Transwomen are not anatomically nor biochemically women as they lack the hormones and anatomy. I’m not implying that a transgender person isn’t the gender they desire to be but they don’t come by it organically… that is just the way the physiology works. Yes, I know that many transgender individuals may be offended by the basic science, however, they don’t have any issue employing it when they are transitioning. I have no problem with a person wanting to be their most authentic self, I am NOT against anyone transitioning. However, to say the concept of being a woman is problematic and hurtful by saying it requires a vagina shouldn’t be construed as such as it’s just stating a basic scientific fact…

  4. Thank you so much! I have been trying myself to put this exact idea into words. When I came across the phrase ‘Real Women Have Curves’, I instantly felt a bit sick and fairly miserable, because I am naturally skinny and do not have a particularly womanly body. When I expressed my disappointment with the phrase to friends, they instantly shouted me down, saying I should supportive of ‘larger’ women, which I most certainly am – they clearly missed the point of what I was trying to say.. But now I have this article, which is, albeit creepily close to the thoughts I had in my head, perfect to show them how I feel. I am very glad I am not alone in my opinion!

  5. I love this article!being of a Filipino background myself who grew up in Australia… I know exactly how you feel. I have only just learnt to fully accept my naturally on the ‘too thin’ side figure.

  6. Essentially this article is brandishing people who say ‘real women have curves.’ Now I completely agree with this article, although from a different perspective. There are two types of curvy women: women with curves made from fat and women who have a natural for example wide hip bones or large breasts or how their body stores fat and muscle. I have curvy hips and large breasts but I’m skinny. And I hate it. People think that I get my curves from fat but my mom’s side of the family is just like me. I dont necessarily agree with the saying “real women have curves” because I totally understand women come in many sizes and some just have that thinner structure. But… I think I’m taking a differet view on this… as not to offend anyone in case I might, I will just leave it at: accept your damn self and tell other people to shut the fuck up if they try to tell you otherwise. I would say more but…

  7. The thing that has always irritated me with this slogan is that even if people admit that it doesn’t necessarily mean “plus size,” it is always followed with “There are too many 0s and 2s represented in fashion.” The way I’ve always understood it, “curvy” means the proportions between waist-hips-bust. A thin person with a naturally “straight” figure or frame is probably not going to suddenly have a huge difference if she gains weight–likewise, a larger woman with a very large hip-waist ratio will likely not lose it if she loses a lot of weight. So yes, us size 0s and 2s can very much be curvy (and I would almost argue that those hip/waist ratios are more noticeable on a size 0 or 2 than on a size 16).

    I suppose most of my annoyance and irritation at this slogan is not only that it’s deliberately bringing down one group of women, but it’s extremely misleading as well.

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  9. Thank you so much for this article! I really needed to read this. I have really been struggling with being bullied about my natural body shape. I have been bullied about it since I was a child. I grew up with a lot of family members who were overweight and obese or just had a larger bone structure than I do, and so for me to look like I do now some of them would put me down and tell me I was too skinny. The only time I have been too skinny was when I was on chemotherapy and when I was abusing drugs. For most of my life I have been very healthy for my height and bone structure. Now I am the most healthy I have ever been and I personally think I look good and healthy. I am 5’6″ and have a long and lean bone structure. Everything about my structure is proportionately long. I wear a 32 C bra and I have thick hips, butt, and thighs for my individual structure. I weigh 135 lbs which is excellent. I also have decent muscle tone because I work out. I am perfectly healthy in every way. I can’t ever wear regular or “skinny” fit jeans or pants or bottoms of any kind. I have to wear either “curvy” or stretch fit. I still have ppl put me down for my body. They tell me in skinny and when I tell them my weight they tell me I must have no body fat and it must be all muscle because they can’t seem to comprehend that someone my size could have body fat like ask healthy women do. It is very offensive and it undermines my feminine beauty that is unique to me. Lately I have been getting put down by a new girl in my jiu jitsu class who has been telling me that I’m too boney and that ny body is wrong. I come home in tears because of these harsh, unnecessary words. In fact I’m tearing up right now. I don’t understand why “fat”, “curvy”, “overweight”, or “obese” ppl complain that “skinny” ppl bully them when I’ve only experienced the opposite. I want to love my body because I’m healthy but ppl keep putting me down and I’m sick of it. This article is a breath of fresh air to my world and it was very hard to find. Thank you for writing this it really means a lot to me. I think we women need to stop putting body image labels on each other and understand basic human anatomy. We need to embrace health and our own unique feminine beauty. Thank you.

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