09 December 2012

Are You a Real Woman or a Fake One?

"Real Women Aren't a Size 6"

"Real Women have Curves"

It would appear that lack of reality runs in my generation.

I've seen these phrases and their cousins so often that I can't be quiet about them any more. What I'm wondering is, who decided it was okay to make such statements and why is it okay? Since when is a size 2, size 4, or size 6 woman not a real woman?

I do understand that such statements have most likely become popular as a form of backlash against the media for portraying all models as 'unbelieveably' skinny. But I absolutely do not think that blanket statements like "Real Women have curves" is the answer to that problem. Because the inference of that statement is that all non-curvy women are also fake women. And what the heck is a fake woman, that's what I want to know.

Actually, Women are women--they aren't really separated into the real ones and the fake ones. And, while the problem of the media portraying only skinny girls is a real problem, it's not the only one. Because if you really are short or slender or both, you know from experience that finding clothes that fit well in American stores is a challenge.

If I shop at teeny-bopper stores, such as Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, or the Junior's department of larger stores, I can find clothes that fit around a size 3-5 for jeans and XS-M for tops. I think stores like Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister carry small sizes, but their prices are too expensive and their stores are too smelly so I boycott them. At stores more geared towards adults, such as Express, Banana Republic, and the Gap, I'm typically a 00 for pants and dresses and XXS-XS for tops. The problem is, I usually don't like teeny-bopper stores because their clothes are often low quality and too trendy for my tastes. And their dresses are mostly too short to wear without pants (according to my height and the length of dresses I prefer to wear). But finding dresses that fit at adult stores is not terribly fun either. I've completely given up hope on ever finding a dress that fits at your typical JC Penney's or Sears. Angel bought me a lovely dress from Banana Republic for my birthday last year. He picked out a size 0, which turned out to be significantly too big, and they didn't carry anything smaller for that dress, so I had to return my birthday dress. I ended up getting my birthday dress at Bettie Page--I had to try on many different styles to find even one dress that was small enough to fit.

The Misses department rarely carries clothes small enough for me, and I'm too tall to really shop in the Petites section. Countless times I've seen a mannikin wearing a fitted dress, and I get excited, thinking that the store must carry small sizes--only to find that the too-large dress is pinned to the back of the mannikin, only giving the illusion that it fits. Hello, stores? I can't just pin my clothes in the back to help them fit better.

So, there is an interesting contrast, then, between the skinny models portrayed in media and the clothing actually available in stores.

I know that the reason I'm skinny right now is because I'm very young. I haven't had any children yet. My body will change in  the future, I'm sure. But the thing is, I'm not the standard of how small people can get. I know women in their 30s and 40s and even older, who've had multiple children, who've lived long, full lives, who are a head shorter than I am and significantly more narrow. Where are they supposed to buy their clothes, I wonder? Are they destined to spend their entire lives shopping in the children's department?

"Real Women are..."

Why would it ever be a good thing that the realness or unrealness of women were determined by the shape of their bodies? I'm pretty sure no one's body is standard. Tall girls, short girls, skinny, and curvy--we all have trouble finding the perfect sizes in stores. But that doesn't give anyone the right to determine which body shape is "real" and which is "fake". Ideally, we could all get our clothes tailor-made for us, and that would solve some problems. But the truth is that a woman could be mean and evil at a size 2 or a size 22. And a woman could have a gracious and loving heart and have a sincere passion for serving God at any size, too! So yeah, it would be nice if we could all buy clothes that fit. But what matters is what we do with the bodies we've been given.

I'm not trying to start a debate on who's prettier, and I'm not trying to argue that more companies should make clothes that fit me. I'm also not interested in the healthy vs. unhealthy debate.

What really matters is that:
"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

So stop knocking the skinny girls. Let's focus more on the attitudes of our hearts and the actions of our hands than on the measurements of our hips, shall we?


  1. YES! Thank you. I've never had curves and never, probably, will have curves (even this whole pregnancy thing isn't suddenly making me a busty goddess). By the way, cute ensemble, and the blue tights are so much fun.


    These whole "Real women are..." campaigns drive me absolutely up the wall. I'm glad you posted on it b/c I don't even know what to say about it, it makes me so foamy and bananas. I don't judge any of my friends (or any stranger, for that matter) for being any size. All sizes present unique challenges, all of them have been criticized for one reason or another. My folks taught me early on that it is not okay to tease "skinny" folks either- that they can be self-conscious just like "fat" people. They taught me that a body is sacred and that we're all blessed to have one.

    My hubs is a really slim guy, and to many-a-person's chagrin, "eating a sandwich" would not "help". He's slim because his metabolism is a veritable furnace. I think he looks great; I know he's healthy. I could straight-up slug people when they tell him that he's "skin and bones" or the like.

    Aaaaaah, 'kay. Guess I have a lot to say, actually.

  3. What a great post! I always get tired of being called skinny like it's some kind of compliment. Saying, omg you're so skinny isn't any nicer than saying wow, you're so fat in my opinion. We are all different sizes and proportions and every woman is her own kind of beautiful!


  4. I understand the point they're trying to make but I just feel like it shouldn't matter. I was a size 2 in hs, 4 in college and now am an 8/10. I'm also 5'10" and in a healthy weight range for me height. Having experienced a different range of sizes, I agree. Most clothes don't fit anyone perfectly and women are women, period.

  5. This is very true. But at the same time I understand the message that they are trying to convey. When I was skinny (size 2-4) I got called skinny A LOT. It never bugged me one bit. In fact, I often took it as a compliment seeing as how people typically define beauty as being on the slim side. However, after having my daughter and drastically jumping up a few sizes (8-10) I do have to remind myself that although I'm a bit more "curvier" I'm still beautiful. Which then makes me wonder, if I, at a size 8, am having issues with my weight and how I view myself, I wonder how does a plus sized woman feel in today's society?? It has got to be incredibly difficult.

    I like to think that I have a very unique perspective on how beauty is defined in America seeing as how by American standards, I'm not even close. For one, I'm a few shades too dark. Secondly, my hair is natural (which some mistakenly refer to as nappy). Thirdly, I'm a few pounds heavier than most models. Does this change how I view myself? Nope. I own my beauty. One of my favorite saying for years is one by Eleanor Roosevelt "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

    Every body shape/type is unique. We all have issues shopping. My problem is that I can never find pants that are long enough and aren't too baggy. Stores like Aeropostale and American Eagle ha, I can't even fit a pinkie toe into their clothing. At 5'9, I have to spend a few extra dollars to get the tall version of pants because most are too short. My mom, who's 5'3, has the opposite problem.

    It can be frustrating, but I try to understand that some people have a more difficult time coming to terms with how they view their bodies. I would like to see them come out with a new slogan that doesn't offend anyone. Maybe you should consider writing to them and giving them a few alternatives.

    Great post!

  6. "Let's focus more on the attitudes of our hearts and the actions of our hands than on the measurements of our hips, shall we?"
    I love this sentence!

  7. I'm 5'1'' and a size 7/8 - I weight 128 pounds and I am a real woman - I also love this post :) oh and the best place to buy my dress pants is express because they fit PERFECT for my short little self. It's like the designer of express said "I'm gonna be thinking of Whitney wearing these - with some heels and we'll be good to go" VOILA! there they were :)

  8. Hmm...I suppose I can see your side on this issue. However, there really is a lot of pressure from media to be stick thin, for some of us that comes natural, others have to struggle to keep weight off. I'm one who has the "coveted" curves-really I don't think any body is perfect-as you said! I have a problem finding clothing that doesn't cling to my curves too much, as I try to dress modestly. From my perspective, clothes are made for super skinny people! So I guess it's all in your perspective. I don't think skinny bodies are "the woman" and I don't think curvy bodies are "the woman". I think God had fun when He created us, thus making us all different shapes and sizes-it would be sort of boring if we all looked the same, no? :)
    A Modest Fashion Blog:

  9. I really enjoy reading this perspective!!
    I am definitely not skinny, but not fat either - and I still have trouble buying clothes!! (it seems that Australia and America are no different in this regard!)
    I often find myself thinking that being thinner would make shopping so much easier - but apparently it doesn't make too much difference! Seriously, thank you so much for showing me the flip side of this!
    I always do my best to be happy and content with my size, but it is very easy to get caught in the Western stereotype of "skinny is beautiful" - when, truly, every single woman is beautiful!
    And the last line of your post? That should sum up the entire way we think about ourselves, shouldn't it? :)

  10. I think it is a matter of being comfortable with your body. Its yours and belongs to no one else, so don't let any one tell you how you should/should not look or defining beauty. Beauty is defined by God and God alone, not the striving of any worldly creature. Thank you for this post :) I enjoyed!

  11. I totally feel you on this one, but I get the message behind all those internet memes and quotes. I think it stems from all the shockingly skinny models and starving yourself to be thin. When I was stick figure thin and barely eating, I was called beautiful all the time. Now that I've put on weight and am "healthy" I don't hear that as much.

    The point is, weight shouldn't matter. Every weight should be considered "beautiful." I hate that our world has such a distorted view of women's beauty.

  12. It really all goes back to the bible verse you quoted about what's important and the sad fact that no matter what their size, so many women feel unbelievable pressure to look perfect. It shouldn't matter. We should all stand proud and strive to be better people :)

  13. Oh my geez, Rachel. I absolutely totally agree. I am super skinny, and have a really hard time gaining weight. I've been to dietitians and counselors and still struggle to gain. It frustrates me and makes me feel so self-conscious about my lack of curves when people constantly dish on skinny girls. I have a flat chest. I have no hips. I wish I had both of those, but I don't. And I hate feeling like I can't express my frustration with not being able to gain weight because people think I'm being a bitch because I'm skinny and that I should shut up. I can't tell you how many people have told me to go eat a sandwich, or asked me if I EVER eat. It's so hurtful and hateful to talk to people like that. So you go girl! I love this post.

  14. Yes yes yes, I love this post! I was annoyed by everyone saying that, it was always so perplexing, but you did a great job pointing this out!


  15. amen and amen. love this post! i absolutely agree with you girl!! thanks for bringing this up in such a great way!!

  16. "And what the heck is a fake woman, that's what I want to know." PREACHHHHH!!! Love this post Rachel! When people throw those words around, they don't realize they are doing the same thing they were hurt by, but to skinny girls. We are all equally real women! There is no such thing as a fake woman!



  17. Great post! I hate pretty much everything that references "real" men or women. Hello.

  18. Great post, I love the last sentence. Real women should be defined by their actions not their sizes.

  19. Love this post! So many times well-intentioned people say things to make one part of the population feel better without thinking about the other part of the population. As a tall woman, I used to have a really hard time finding pants that were long enough. Then stores started carrying "tall" sizes in pants, and it was easier for awhile. Now the "tall" pants are about 5inches too long, but the regulars are only long enough to wear with flats. I mostly wear skirts and dresses! :-)

  20. Hooray for this post! A real woman is a woman, of any size or shape or shade. I'm pretty thin, and don't consider myself any less womanly than my curvier friends. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday!

  21. Brave post and I love it! I feel your pain, even though I'm curvy, the clothes at stores geared toward women my age are always too big. And I've never said anything about it to ANYONE because I don't want the backlash. "Oh, quit bragging!" or "Must be nice!". No, actually it's frustrating. Yes, real women are defined by many, many other things besides what our bodies look like!

    Phew, thanks for that, I feel better now. :)

  22. At least your not alone. I know how it feels to go into a store and not fine a size that works. I end up going to the kids section because they fit better but then I look 10. All the sizes got bigger to. So a kids XL is really a L, which means I am not in M for kids only problem is it's about an inch to short for me. I hate being told that being skinny is nice. No, it sucks. I can find XL/XXL sizes for women everywhere. I don't see a XS hardly ever. If I do then it's usually the one that is broken or something wrong with it. I know exactly how you feel. Oh and top that I am skinny but have huge boobs that often hand out of clothes because they are meant for those that don't have them. Not that I mind either way but I don't want my boobs out. I want to be a modest women. Sigh. At least we know we are not alone.

  23. I'm a skinny girl and can relate to all of this. I've also had a child..and still I am thin. I think comparison is a dangerous thing. We all need to be happy with who we are as long as we are healthy and serving the Lord. Great post:)

  24. Thank you so much for this, there is so much truth in it! And you've written it so well. Real women come in all shapes and sizes. I'm a pretty average sized person, but because I have to wear smaller sizes, I'm sometimes told I'm not a 'real' woman. I have a really curvy chest, but because of my small waist, apparently I'm not curvy and shouldn't think of myself as being so. Really I just feel like I don't fit into a category of skinny or curvy or anything, which most women won't, and shouldn't have to!

  25. I love this Rachel! It's absolutely true, there's no blanket statement that could ever work- a woman is a woman! And you are a true woman!

  26. Great post! I myself am a short, very curvy girl and have the same difficulties finding clothes that fit. ;) 'Real' women come in all shapes and sizes and God made every one of us in His image and therefore we are beautiful.

  27. You look absolutely gorgeous, I love the combination of the blue tights and red shoes. Great post!


  28. I wish I could shop in juniors :)

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  29. While I agree, I think that there is a need to remind women that the thin ladies are no better than the bigger ladies. Neither are the curvy ladies better than the smaller ones. The bigger picture, though, should be that if you are focusing only on the outward appearance, there is a problem.

  30. Thank you for this post! Something that has impressed as I've gone through my life is how amazingly the female body changes. It is one of life's beautiful mysteries and I am grateful to be able to appreciate it!

  31. Thank you for sharing this post with my Rachel! I could relate more with you about shopping in Jr.s because the misses department didn't quit fit yet the way I would hope. Although I liked the misses fashion a little more than Jr.s too. Luckily after the arrival of my third daughter I gained a little bit of hips to help me out. ;) I can no venture into the misses XS sometimes S if I get lucky! But you totally took the words right out of my mouth for me about shopping at forever 21. When I do like shopping at JCrew and such.


  32. It's all relative. According to those quotes at the beginning I'm not a "real woman" either, but guess what? Last summer I found a bathing suit that I absolutely love on Craigslist: the size was Asian plus-size. :)

  33. I really dislike the whole "Real women are/aren't _____" slogans too. I shop in the kids' section on occasion because some of their clothes fit better (and their shoes are cheaper!), and I'd like to think we're both very much real people. I'm all for self-love/confidence and being body-positive, but I've never understood why that has to include shaming other body types.