What Is A “Real Woman?”

Yesterday, I saw that Cassey from Blogilates wrote a post to her readers after several of them wrote negative comments regarding her choice of models for her new fitness line. She is launching her own fitness apparel line, BodyPop, and posted a picture of the 2 models who were doing a photo shoot for her. Readers commented that they were upset she didn’t use “real women,” so she addressed this in her post, “What does a real woman look like anyway?”

real-woman

I’d like to know that as well. I think that as more and more people have started getting fit and healthy, there has been more body shaming going both ways. This was the reason behind one of my posts about “Strong is the new skinny.” Typically, when we think of body shaming, we think of people insulting or judging those who may be curvier or a bit overweight. But I think Cassey has a point here. How is not bashing these two girls and saying they’re not “real women,” also not body shaming? Such as the phrase, “real women have curves?”

Why is it that because they are fit or skinny they aren’t real women? My sister, for example, is naturally slender. She works out regularly too, and is just naturally tall and thin. I’m sure she would be upset if she read a comment saying she’s not a real woman. 

Cassey made a point about the obesity problem in the US, saying that the average dress size 50 years ago was a size 4, and now it’s a size 14. Then she said:

Now that we’ve established that the average person has gotten bigger and heavier throughout the years (due to lack of movement, the increase of fast food, larger portion sizes etc.), we can talk on a level playing field. Are you mad that I didn’t choose to showcase models that represent our “average US woman” which really is a huge red flag that something needs to be done here? Today over 30% of the world is overweight or obese. 

I think I’ve written about this in the past before too. The US has an obesity problem, yet it seems people are afraid to point that out to others. I understand that there are many people with medical conditions, but there are many who don’t have medical conditions are are obese due to not exercising, not eating right, and more. Why is it that we say women should have curves and what not, when this isn’t necessarily healthy in some cases?

Like I said, I understand looks aren’t everything. Just because you’re overweight doesn’t mean your unhealthy and just because your thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy. But sometimes it seems like we almost praise being overweight. We are okay with it and complacent with it. “Women should have curves so it’s okay.” It that really a healthy mentality?

I saw a lot of different comments on this post. Many agreed with Cassey, and also claimed that since it’s a fitness apparel line, why wouldn’t she use fitness models? Many also said that using fitness models is good for motivation. I mean, I know I’m motivated when I do a workout video and see all those lean women! A few others were still disappointed, such as this comment:

I’m not disappointed because I don’t like thin and tall women modeling at all. I’m disappointed because I was expecting something different. Having followed your blog for a long time and reading how you are equally against unrealistic body expectations set by media and unhealthy habits being overlooked, I was expecting you to use not-the-typical-model-type-of-body for your line. And wanting that doesn’t mean I was expecting to see an obese/underweight/unhealthy woman as it’s obvious that as a fitness line you want to use fit healthy models.

I guess the point of this post was to ask, really, what is a real woman? Why is that even a phrase/terminology? 

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Do you think we, as a nation, are too lax on obesity issues?

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Comments

  1. Great post! All women are real women and I wish we could just stop the whole what is a real woman debate. Ugh.
    Betsy recently posted…Next Up: Kona Run!My Profile

  2. Ugh Patty I hear ya! So I do think that “every woman is a real woman” right? I mean we are, yes? We come in many shapes and sizes for a variety of reasons (genetics, lifestyle, etc). But I too am sick of the whole strong is the new skinny and real women have curves crap but I think it’s one of those backhanded compliments. What it’s really saying (I think) is that “I’m better than you because I’m strong and you’re just skinny”.

    I’ve said for a long time that you can’t judge health just by looking at someone.

    I think another issue that this connects with is the love your body campaign. I think it’s a great idea but I see women who are engaging in an unhealthy lifestyle and justifying it with it’s ok because, “I love my body”. We criticize models for being an “unhealthy” role model because they are too skinny yet we put women who are 40lbs overweight in the spot light and say— be like her, she loves her body. Well I’m not so sure that’s a great replacement to be honest.
    Annie Brees recently posted…Reading Is Not BelievingMy Profile

  3. I saw Cassey’s post yesterday, too. While I do NOT think she meant anything by her model choice, I do agree with the comment you posted here about being disappointed. And I agree with you that body shamming is tossed in all directions at all body types. I’m not comfortable vilifying obesity point blank, though.
    Larissa recently posted…A little bit of everythingMy Profile

    • I agree that we shouldn’t vilify obesity, because like I said, there are so many things we may not know about a person or their medical history. My thing is that I don’t think we should be complacent with obesity, and view it as a “I love my body” type thing. I think it’s great if people love their bodies, but I also think there may be a point where you just aren’t in a healthy point. But again, you can’t judge a book by a cover. Many who are thin aren’t healthy as well, so you really never know. But I do agree with Cassey’s point that the US has an obesity problem and we should be trying to change that.

  4. A real woman is any woman that isn’t photoshopped or airbrushed. I really liked the way Casey responded to all the comments. I think it was very intelligent and a good conversation starter. I think the real issue is she’s using models that don’t necessarily represent her brand. From a marketing standpoint if her brand is celebrating the different shapes people have her models should show it. Brands like Tone It Up and Lululemon are about very sleek women and their ads fit with that. If Casey wants her brand to be about girls with a little more muscle and curve her models should really reflect that.
    Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie recently posted…Friday Five 18My Profile

    • Yes that is very true (about her branding). Hadn’t thought about it in that way, relating it to TIU or lululemon.

  5. How backward is our society becoming when obesity and unhealthy eating and exercise habits is the norm? Norm enough that thin and fit women are told they “aren’t real women”? Women, as always are at war with themselves for no reason!

    OBESITY CANNOT BECOME THE NEW NORMAL!

  6. Right there with you. I’ve struggled with this whole notion of “real women” because I’m neither a fitness model or a curvy gal. I often feel as though I’m not considered a real woman because I’m not one of the extremes. It is very much its own form of shaming (just like all the times people tried to force feed me when I was younger, as if I must have an eating disorder).

    I’m also concerned with this idea of using the typical size women as the average woman in the US is not healthy. Not just because of her size, but because of her lifestyle. Yet, if we can’t see people like ourselves then we can’t relate. Just as little girls need to see women in leadership positions, women of all sizes need to see that women of their size are engaging in fitness and loving it.
    Jacki recently posted…Fit FridayMy Profile

    • I can definitely see that point, and lots of comments said that as well. That they’d like to see someone of their proportions that they can relate to. For me, I like seeing super fit women because that inspires me more. Though I guess seeing someone like me who’s working out in a DVD would also be motivating because it’s like if she can do it I can do it.

  7. I agree with you. While it is taboo to criticize overweight women, it seems to be fine to hate on skinny women and make jokes that can be just as hurtful. Why can’t we just stop picking on each other?!
    Coco recently posted…Summer Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Exactly! It’s okay to look at someone who is “too skinny” and say something like “she needs to eat a cheeseburger!” or something like that.

  8. I’ve struggled with this concept a lot over the years. I’m not curvy. Pretty straight up and down actually. But I would see all of these “real women have curves” posters in the media and feel outcasted…like I would have to change my body to be considered “normal” or be accepted in society. As long as you are a breathing, functioning woman, you are a REAL woman.
    Emily @MyHealthyishLife recently posted…Me A to ZMy Profile

    • Right! I hate the whole “real women have curves” thing. I agree with you, we are all REAL women.

  9. That’s crazy! I’ll have to check that out. I’m 5’2″ I weigh 110 pounds and am 16.5% body fat. I’ve had five kids, the youngest is 6months. I eat more than I used to but run daily and bike and strength train. I’m healthier than I was at 105 pounds and than I was at 115 pounds before my last baby.
    I’ve known skinny and big women who are both healthy and unhealthy.

    • I agree to an extent that the weight on the scale isn’t the whole story. I mean I can certainly relate since my weight is normal for my height but my bodyfat is on the higher side (working on that). You certainly can’t judge a book by its cover.

  10. I wrote a post about this not too long ago too and I completely agree with you. We are all different shapes and sizes, there shouldn’t be body shaming either way.

    It’s staggering to think that over 30% of the world is overweight. I don’t think it’s right we are pressured to accept it as the new normal. I’m all for vilifying obesity. Not in the sense of saying an obese person is a bad person, but I can’t for one second say obesity is ok. There’s a big difference between being significantly overweight and having hips and boobs and little extra love. We were only given one body and we need to take care of it!
    Jenni @ Fitzala recently posted…Plyometric Workouts: why they rock plus three workoutsMy Profile

    • That is how I feel! I think obesity is a major problem and it should not be seen as Ok just because you love your body. Yes it’s great to be confident with yourself, but at the same time we should be promoting health and healthy living.

  11. Bea Jones says:

    I agree with you. I, as a naturally skinny woman, have been on the opposite side of the scale, and sometimes is is upsetting to see people tell me to ‘eat more’ or that if they sit on my lap I might ‘break’. I understand that fat shamming is unacceptable, but it is wrong to start hating on naturally skinny women just because a person is insecure about themselves. There are curvy women who have every right to be proud of their curves, but I dislike that some overweight people are using their ‘curves’ as an excuse not to take care of themselves. And at the same time, they hate on naturally skinny women as if they have actually done something to offend them. Most of the time, skinny people have worked for their body, so who are you to dismiss their hard work just because they have something you don’t. This isn’t to say that there aren’t healthy big people, or that a medical condition is no excuse, but we as women should stop hating each other for what other people look like an start focusing on ourselves. Every woman has the right to feel beautiful, yet by putting curvy women up, we are bringing skinny people down and that isn’t right.

    • “Every woman has the right to feel beautiful, yet by putting curvy women up, we are bringing skinny people down and that isn’t right.” Yess 100% agree! Your comment was very well-said, thanks for posting!

  12. Kasie pavasko says:

    How about everyone not taking offense to everything people say nowadays. If the shoes fits wear it. If your fit, your fit. If your skinny, your skinny and if your overweight, you guessed it your overweight. People are so worried about what others think and say nowadays that they don’t stop to really look at themselves. Everyone should be happy with their body, its the only one you will ever get. What you choose to do with it is none of my concern.

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