I was out a couple of weekends ago with some friends. My glass had run dry and in serious need of another gin and tonic (always) I was stood patiently at the bar, generally minding my own business and trying to catch the eye of the barman without being one of those annoying ‘card tappers’.
A man came and stood next to me, tapping his card on the bar- obviously I should have known he was going to be the worst kind of person. He then struck up a conversation about how difficult it was to get served (he had been stood there for a grand total of 30 seconds). After a moment of silence he turned to me and uttered the five words no one wants to hear, “can I just say something?” I should have said “no you cannot” because no one says that unless they’re about to say something outlandishly forward or inappropriate. Whilst addressing my tits he announced, “I love the way your top looks, you’re a real woman.”
A real woman. Not a chocolate woman? Not a figure of somebodies imagination? No, very real and very much a woman.
What does that mean because it is everywhere? Dove ran a whole campaign on the real woman. Apparently we should herald these real women as the ideal. So what attributes make you a real woman?
Do you have to be curvy- anything over a size 10 is preferable? Do you have to have a peachy bum and perk tits? No self-esteem or opinions? Shiny long hair and not too much make up? A body made in the gym? A vagina? Or self-identify as a woman?
I know I am being pernickety and I know the term ‘real’ women is striving to be inclusive but surely it would be more helpful to just talk about women. Period.
Telling a women she isn’t real because she is starving herself in the name of beauty, wears more makeup than you would like or has decided to get massive fake boobs doesn’t do a lot in the way of changing our perceptions of what the ideal body is. It is just shaming another group of women who probably don’t need any more judgement than they already give themselves.
The whole ‘real woman’ compliment comes from the same school of flirting as “you’re not like other girls”. Which girls? Have you met all of the girls? Was there a party? Why wasn’t I invited? Because I’m not like them? No you’re wrong I am in fact striving to be an amalgamation of every girl and woman I have ever met or seen and thought ‘she is pretty cool’. I am exactly like other girls.
Real doesn’t equate to better. I know we like to think we live in an accepting progressive society but with the growth of social media ideal images of women are being pushed even harder than ever before. I don’t understand how replacing the ‘size 0’ ideal of the noughties with the curvier ‘real woman’ is helpful at all. Someone is still being shamed.
In reality, empowered women are sexy. It doesn’t matter what you look like. Real women are size 6 and size 16, they’re mean and super thoughtful, great in bed and have crippling insecurities, are on a lifelong mission to find the perfect smart casual dress, cry because they love their friends so much every time they get drunk, work really bloody hard but play harder. They’re every woman.