The ‘C’ word. The word that is increasingly being used by the media in an attempt to redefine the healthy goal posts of the average woman. The word that has quickly lost its meaning in society. The word we’re all now afraid to address. But what does it actually mean today? And would you be happy to receive this label? I think it’s time to address the ‘c’ word. Let’s discuss ‘curvy’.
We’re Scared to Define It, Because We’re Not Sure Who Fits It
What type woman do you picture when I say the word ‘curvy’? A size 14? A size 18? Round? Pear? ‘Any’ female shape or size, as long as it’s above a size 12 and has a ‘womanly’ shape, right? So why, if it ignores the shapes of so many women, is this word acceptable to use as the female ideal? We hear it all the time, a ‘real woman’ has ‘curves’. I know plenty of girls with small frames, flat chests, that perhaps aren’t blessed with as much ‘junk in the trunk’ as they’d like, and I’m pretty sure they’re still 100% ‘real women’.
So why do we feel the need to classify a real woman in order to achieve self-confidence? In true Meghan Trainor style, surely by being ‘all about that bass and no treble’, we’re not empowering women at all, we are empowering one specific type of woman, and further segregating the rest. In an attempt to rectify one issue, we are simply replacing it with another. It seems that in order to feel accepted, we feel the need to create some ideal image to identify with, with little regard for those that fall outside of this category.
‘Curvy’ Attacks More Than Just Aesthetics
With catwalk fashion creating the familiar ‘female ideal’ of a slight frame, many women across society feel as though they should be ‘skinny’ and not ‘fat’. Any type of pressure to conform to a certain body type is negative, but for me, the ‘curvy’ stereotype has developed into something worse. Why? By implying that ‘real women’ have ‘curves’, you are extending beyond simple aesthetic body image, and directly attacking a woman’s identity as a female.
I personally don’t have a feminine chest or an hour-glass figure, I have muscular thighs, a wide back, and strong capped shoulders. My body isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but it’s mine. Luckily I am happy in my own skin, unaffected by the opinions of others. Guess what, a size 4 girl with a flat chest and a washboard stomach is 100% real. She is just as good at being a woman as you, or anyone else. She can breathe, walk, talk, and identifies as a woman. Therefore, she is a real woman. Curves have nothing to do with being a ‘real’ woman. Our looks don’t identify us as a person, but for some reason, those that identify with the label of ‘curvy’, are authorized to attack those that do not.
The Rise of “Fit Shaming”
If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change, right? Calling another girl ‘manly’, ‘disgusting’, or pointing out how she is ‘skinny’, ‘just bones’, or not a ‘real woman’, will not make you happy with your own body. All of a sudden, it is becoming more and more unacceptable to be slim, fit and proud, without causing some sort of offence to others simply for your existence. Images of fit mums, proudly showing off their bodies, are going viral and being accused of ‘fat shaming’, simply for being happy in their own skin. Why has it become ok to accuse and shame one type of woman, when the very people doing so are the ones claiming to feel threatened by media perpetuations of the female ‘ideal’? An ideal that is only apparent to those who continue to feed it through their own insecurity.
If you’ve lifted a dumbbell, you’ve probably experienced it at some point. ‘Why would you want to look like a man?’ ‘Her muscles look gross’.. Only a week or so ago I personally received public comments on social media images, explaining how one woman in particular thought I looked *insert obscenity here* ‘disgusting and awful’. Similarly, an article appeared on my social media feed, describing how a young, obese woman had taken part in a fashion photo-shoot in order to ‘inspire’ and ‘empower’ other women. Pointing out the irresponsibility of the shoot, as a result of the woman’s health at a size UK 24 (just as one would with extremely skinny size 0 models), the author (who happened to be a female bodybuilder) was subject to a huge public backlash; being thrown insults such as ‘man beast’, and being asked if she’s ‘really a woman’ due to her small breasts. Ladies, this is not okay. How has it become so acceptable to shame one type of female, yet we must all still hide behind the ‘c’ word, ‘curvy’, through fear of unfair discrimination?
Let’s Look at the Bigger Picture; Health.
This argument is not about aesthetics, but health. Shifting the problem of ‘skinny’ ideals to ‘curvy’ ideals is not solving an issue, but more so shifting it. It’s about time we address this, and stop pitting ourselves against each other. As women we should stand together, all beautiful in our own ways, and look after our health. An obesity crisis is still looming, how are we supposed to address this without worry of constantly causing offence? It’s time to take responsibility for our own bodies, put our health first, and stop placing blame with the media and elsewhere. Let’s stop hiding behind the ‘c’ word, and address the issues on both ends of the spectrum.
So, is curvy really a positive ideal after all? Has it lost it’s meaning? I am sad to say that today for me, a young female athlete, the word ‘curvy’ stands for a bitter retaliation of women further pitting themselves against each other. It’s about time we celebrate strong women, each and every one of us! Let’s celebrate healthy female bodies, rather than further segregating ourselves in order to reach our own personal acceptance.