Friday, April 30, 2010

Real Women

Recently there's been some brouhaha because ABC and FOX passed on a Lane Bryant lingerie commercial. Whether or not the whole thing was a publicity stunt or FOX and ABC hate fat chicks interests me less than the reactions it has produced, both on the anarchic internet and in my mother. To paraphrase pretty much everyone, "ABC and FOX would rather show stick figures with bolt on plastic boingboings than real women."

Far from cringing, this kind of sentiment causes my blood to boil.

What in the bleepity bleep bleep bleep is a "real woman?" Want to know why Hilary Clinton isn't president (aside from some personality flaws)? Because women like to take the piss out of other women. Hate your thighs? Console yourself by saying that real women have jiggly thighs. Ok, I'm all for lying to yourself in the interests of self-preservation, but what, oh, what, does that make women with non-jiggly thighs? Fake women? What is she's slim, has fake boobs, but also jiggly thighs? Is she half-real? Half-fake?

This fanatic need to diminish other women who, let's face it, look better than we do because THEIR JOB IS TO LOOK BETTER THAN WE DO, is ugly, childish, and just plain wrong. One of my least favorite things to hear from people, whom I know are saying it to be nice is, "oh, I'm so glad you have curves like a real woman." Ok, in fairness, I'm glad I have curves too. I wish they were less filled with butter, but I like that in the figure lottery, I got the basic shape I got. But I like it because I like it, not because it may make me better or worse of realer or faker than someone else. My mother, a diametric opposite of me in the figure department, is no less or more beautiful because of this. My mother is beautiful because she has spent a lifetime embracing what she looks like and I am an aspiring beauty because she taught me this lesson. Which may have been difficult considering she had to send me first bra shopping with my aunt because she herself didn't own one. But to say my mother isn't a real woman because she has been slim her whole life is offensive. Oh, but maybe because a) my mom is old and b) she doesn't have fake boobs, she might get grandfathered in to the real woman category. But if my mother had gotten a breast enhancement, I don't know if that should have catapulted her from the stratus of the real. (And by the way, my mother was solidly on the side of the ABC should show real women crowd...)

And when your jeans are too tight, when your bust isn't full enough to flatter you in that awesome dress, when your legs are too stumpy for that short skirt, or your arms to flabby for that tank top, do you really, honestly, care how flippin' real you are? At that moment wouldn't you, somewhere, kill a man to look like Cindy Crawford or Angelina Jolie, or Taylor Swift, even if only for the evening? When I hear someone talk about real women, what I hear is deep, ugly insecurity. Because I am not perfect, I must be something else that purportedly perfect women are not. And that something is "real." Now I can feel better about myself because while she's perfect, she's inauthentic.

If we, as women, spent, oh one-tenth the time improving both ourselves and our lots in life as we do disparaging other women whom we envy, whose successes we don't understand and can't seem to emulate, I think the life of a woman would look radically different. And I say this as someone who has written about watching the Oscars and wondering why all these young famous people have crows' feet. Now I'll try to walk it back so that I appear ever so slightly less hypocritical, but the urge is in us all. Just, please, stop it short of trying to compliment me (or any other non-perfect woman) by dissing another woman. I'd like to get to a point where that sort of behavior is beneath us. All of us real women.

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