Saturday, January 16, 2021

ALL Women Are Real

January 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Body Image

A trending topic here at WeAretheRealDeal this week has been about comparing/contrasting the “real-ness” of model Jennifer Hawkins and the “plus-sized” models displayed in V Magazine.

Let me be clear: ALL WOMEN ARE REAL.

No matter your size or shape … you breathe, you have a heart-beat, you have feelings.

As far as I’m concerned, that makes you real.

Unfortunately, celebrities and models (also real women) are plastered all over the media, painting images of perfection that most of us will never (and really should never seek to) attain. And since so few of us look like “them,” when we see images of a thin woman with nary a flaw, many people will feel she’s not “real” enough —  in that she doesn’t represent them/how they view themselves/how they look.

But they breathe, have a heart-beat, and feelings, too …  and are very much “real,” even if not representative of the population as a whole.

So how can we discount Jennifer Hawkins simply because she’s beautiful and thin and fit? Isn’t that just as bad as discounting someone who is severely obese?

Just like with Hollywood’s ridiculous beauty standards for men, there’s a double-standard at play here.

We’re still comparing ourselves and deeming someone “real” or “not real” based upon their physical appearance. We’re still fighting against one another, when we should be banding together to support one another.

At WeAretheRealDeal, we’ve been showcasing all sorts of body sizes and types since we launched last summer.

We’ve applauded progressive magazines that stray from the traditional models of yore, and blasted those that PhotoChop the hell out of celebrities to sell covers.

Sadly, I think our over-arching message that we should love and accept ourselves as we are (but that if a woman wants to get healthier, that’s cool too! Props for that!),  has been clouded by the constant comparisons that we, as women, seem to do automatically when we see someone thinner/prettier/etc.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Can’t we look at a picture of Jennifer Hawkins and admire her physique just as much as we look at Crystal Renn’s and admire hers? They’re both beautiful women, and they’re both “real” as you or I. Admiring them doesn’t make them any less “real.”

But to be endlessly caught up in the comparisons and name-calling (“That’s not a ‘real’ woman” or “She’s a stick figure”) is where we get into trouble.

Can’t we all get along?

On another note, I know a lot of people were upset about Jennifer’s nude Marie Claire cover being un-airbrushed but yet she’s wearing make-up.

I wanted to just say, I am not at all upset by the fact that she’s wearing make-up. Yes, it is still a form of enhancement…and you could argue the cover should have been totally natural.

But I’ll be honest, I love putting on make-up. Like wrap-dresses, heels and chic purses, wearing make-up makes me feel like, well, a woman!

My husband isn’t going to expertly line his eyes and dab lip gloss on his pout. But I, a woman, can/do. Does that make me any less “real” because I feel good with a little mascara? I hope to high hell not.

And speaking of make-up, this week, Jessica Simpson stepped out without make-up and discussions about her natural beauty were all over the blogosphere. It was a big deal to see a celeb not all done up, and for many, it might have been comforting to see how she looks in her most natural state.

While I think it’s awesome she felt confident enough to go out au natural (knowing the paparazzi would be all over her about it), and give props to women who do, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with liking make-up, either, or the fact models wear it.

I do have a problem with airbrushing, however, and so I was happy Jennifer wasn’t airbrushed. Even if she might be your idea of yet another thin model (and doesn’t look like the average woman on the street), the fact that she wasn’t airbrushed is a big step in the right direction in my opinion.

True, she might not be considered “real” enough for some of our readers/contributors, but even with make-up, she’s pretty “real” to me.

I think the tone of the conversation in our community here really needs to change if we want to make any progress. I’m willing to listen to how we can do it. Any takers?

How about you? Do you need to identify with someone for them to feel “real” to you? How can we get past this barrier here at WATRD? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


21 Responses to “ALL Women Are Real”
  1. beautifuldancer says:

    Wow… good point. It’s not fair to get mad at a thin woman for being thin (even when she wasn’t airbrushed.) It’s like even naturally thin women can’t win.
    I think it has a lot to do with jealousy. It’s easier to shoot down a woman with a body that we wish we had than acknowledge that she is real toe and is blessed with a figure that we may want.
    to get pissed off that she looks that good UNphotoshopped and UNairbrushed is just a reflection of inner insecurity and jealousy and that’s not pretty on anyone.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Well said, beautifuldancer: “to get pissed off that she looks that good UNphotoshopped and UNairbrushed is just a reflection of inner insecurity and jealousy and that’s not pretty on anyone.” — amen!

    • mamaV says:

      Hi beautifuldancer: You’ve touched on something I have been wanting to say but was not sure I wanted to get into it — but you inspired me, so I hope I can articulate this well. 🙂

      This post of Lissa’s stemmed from the one I did on this topic in which I said the comment that this model was not a “real” example.

      I am the one who criticized her magazine cover because I felt the effort was weak.

      I am the one who said she is a “toothpick,” which was a word choice used to drive home my point.

      Here is why I stated all of the above; I was “that girl” 20 some years ago. As a Paris former model, tall, blond, the “perfect” one, I lived it and here is the sad bottom line:

      When you have the figure “everyone wants” pointing out your flaws makes everyone feel like crap.

      Is this fair? No.

      Do I/Jennifer Hawkins have a right to have body image issues just as an obese woman would? Certainly…lord knows I did for half of my damn life!

      Is it lonely? Yes, very, very much so. And this is a core reason why I started this blog so we could open this honest dialogue.

      But even closer to my heart, is sending the right message to the girls of today, the whole generation of girls who are trying to be “that girl” and have gone so far to declare “anorexia a lifestyle” because of the society we have created.

      This doesn’t mean Jennifer Hawkins is to blame in any way whatsoever, she is a gorgeous woman who should be proud of who she is, and can certainly flaunt her beauty if she feels like it! In this case, she set out to do a wonderful thing, which went a bit haywire, and I feel sorry for her for that because I am sure she had good intentions.

      BUT, in my view, she should have known better.

      Of course some of the 98% of the female population that doesn’t look anything like her, may just take offense to her nearly invisible “flaws”.

      Of course a certain population of the teens out there that wish they were her will be motivated to try to be her by continuing to starve themselves or they will just sit around and feel like crap about themselves because at their age, at their maturity level, they just aren’t able to see it any other way.

      So to the question —
      Is Jennifer Hawkins “real?” Of course.

      Is Jennifer Hawkins a “real,” GOOD example to put out there on a cover of a magazine, with minuscule flaws? Not so much.

      Because the truth is, the vast majority of us don’t relate, so what good is it doing?

      Looking forward to your thoughts!

  2. heart says:

    I actually like how the women look better without the makeup. (link through the Jessica Simpson link) Maybe that makes your point about other women looking more “real” to us if they seem like us.

    As I write this I’m looking at the MizFit tat “unapologetically myself”, and to me that’s what makes a woman more or less real: how honestly she can be herself. And I think we can help each other be more real by reflecting what we see of each other as honestly as we can, while trying not to add our own baggage.

    So for example, if I see a fat woman who isn’t making a point or issue of being fat, that’s just she herself being herself, I’m not going to pretend she isn’t fat if it comes up, but I’m also not going to assume she has a problem with being fat just because it’s something I’ve struggled with myself. [I have a lot more trouble with skinny women who create drama around how they feel fat, because their either lying, delusional & in need of more help than I could ever give, or they’ve chosen a really loaded and provoking way of demanding (unearned) attention, any of which would make them people I’d rather not have to deal with. So I’m probably not going to be supportive there, but as long as there are other people among the WATRD readership who can be, I guess it’s all good.]

    And btw, I didn’t think there was a more beautiful woman in the world than Charlize Theron until I saw that sans-makeup pic of Katherine Heigl, OMG.

    • Frances says:

      I’m with you. I honestly think we look better without make-up. I actually find make-up really uncomfortable – foundation and powder feels so heavy and lipstick is a monster pain in the arse.

      I think it’s interesting, lissa, that you nominate wrap dresses, heels, purses and make-up as making you feel like a woman because I don’t wear any of those things. I’m struggling to think of things that make me ‘feel’ like a woman!

      That said, of course we’re both real women. Thankfully, the selection criteria for being a woman is really flexible.

      • lissa10279 says:

        Frances, those are just things that make me feel like a woman, personally. I’m in yoga pants right now and a tank (just Shredded with Jillian ;), and I’m still “a woman” in this.

        I just meant to imply that some stereotypical “woman” things don’t make me feel any less “real” — I like getting dressed up, it makes me feel good. But if I stayed in sweats all day, well that’d be cool too. I just feel a lot better dressed up, know what I mean? And “woman things” is open to interpretation. For someone else, it might mean something totally different.

  3. CandiceBP says:

    My issue with the “stick figure” thing is that she says she’s NOT a stick figure. Perhaps relative to the other models she knows, she’s not, but compare to average women, she is. (Although, admittedly, “stick figure” is definitely derogatory, imho.)

    I believe women of ALL sizes should be given fair representation – which means more size 10-14 models than size 2-6 models because there are more size 10-14 women. It only seems fair.

    I love that Hawkins isn’t airbrushed and didn’t think twice about her makeup – but even without airbrushing, she’s pretty damn perfect and that needs to be acknowledged. Even airbrushed, I wouldn’t fit the ideal she fits unairbrushed. It’s just a point to be made. But in no way should we be slamming women just because they’re naturally thin (which I’ll just assume she is, even though I know some disagree).

    I’ve had plastic surgery and I still consider myself “real”… so even if we alter ourselves, we’re still real – this is our reality and it represents someone. We should be inclusive.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Candice, I think that’s the thing, she doesn’t see herself as a stick figure COMPARED TO OTHER MODELS. I do agree she looks pretty damn “perfect” but she’s still real. I do wish there was greater representation of other figures, but I think we’re making progress — Glamour has been praised to no end and deserves it.

    • Naturally thin says:

      Hmm. I must be the only person who thinks she’s far from perfect. Pretty average if you ask me. Naturally thin don’t need exercise 90 minutes per day, 6 days per week. Just sayin!

  4. vitty10 says:

    Yes, all women are real. Thank you for saying that.

    However, I do think that it is in the best interest of all women to see all body types represented more fairly. Maybe people wouldn’t be so envious of thinner women if their body type was also represented in the media. They wouldn’t feel like they need to look like these women, which is often impossible. And maybe the thin body type wouldn’t be so highly sought after if we saw all body types as normal and natural.

    It’s a shame that so many women feel that they don’t measure up because we are only presented with this thin ideal. This naturally leads to jealousy. But calling them ‘stick figures’ and names like that is not appropriate or productive. Why can’t we all just support each other rather than tearing each other down?

    So no, I don’t think that Jennifer Hawkins should be discounted simply because she is thin. But I don’t think that Gabourey Sidibe should be discounted either because she is fat. Both are beautiful, confident women just as they are.

  5. Nell says:

    I’m more about identifying with a person’s morals or ideas as presented publicly (on the blogospheres, on the net, in magazines or on TV, it doesn’t matter to me) and have noticed recently how my perception of people have shifted away from their body type and more towards a “this is a person I could be friends with/admire in some regard”.

    Everyone who comes across as real is real to me- I would like a “plastic-minded” plus-sized person just as much as I’d like a thin one, not at all. Talk real, be real. It’s as simple as that to me.

    I believe that it takes time to adopt a non-physical view of the people we meet anywhere. It also takes a conscious decision not to buy into the body cult anymore. I think that here, at WATRD, we’re on the right road. We just need to walk on and never give up. Let’s start pulling everybody along towards REAL.

  6. wriggles says:

    I agree with your sentiments, all women are real. I understand what was meant by it, ‘real’ in this context think means everyday or ordinary women you see in the street.

    But it has understandably caused offence and so people dealing in this need to be aware of that and knock it off. As vitty says, it’s about representing all women, not divide and conquer.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Wriggles, that’s why I did this post, to clarify that we’re all entitled to our opinions (bloggers and commenters) but that if we want to get past this, we need to stop the name-calling/nit-picking/body-bashing. I do see where MamaV is coming from/her sensitivity in a lot of ways (i.e., not wanting to encourage the pro-ana/thinspo movement; that doesn’t help anyone), and I think that’s one of the hardest things about our blog–we’re the first of a kind to bring together all different aspects of body image in the same place, so naturally, there are going to be disagreements and conflicts of interest.

      We can’t be everything to everyone, so we might as well be something to someone…we’re just trying our best and all your feedback (yours, everyone’s) helps us be the best we can be. Thank you!

  7. WendyRG says:

    I agree with the previous posters:

    1. Yes, we’re all real: fat, thin, disabled, athletic,…

    2. However, we rarely see anything but the slimmest women represented in the media and the message–direct or indirect–is that this is the look to which we all should aspire. We need more variety. We need to see that all sizes, shapes and colours are beautiful.

    3. Women (especially) need to be constantly reminded that what they see in the magazines is almost always airbrushed and therefore a lie and impossible to attain. Teenage girls are particularly prone to believing these lies.

  8. Suzie says:

    I completely agree. All women are real. All women should be encouraged to strive for their best self. That best self comes in all sizes and that is what we need to focus on. Giving our bodies, minds, and souls what they need will get us to that ideal self. There is a balance and that is what I strive for.

  9. Julie says:

    Thankyou for this post. We are indeed all real regardless of our shape or size and when we are criticised for the way we look – we hurt like real people too.

    I so appreciate your words. Thankyou.

  10. Stacey says:

    We are all real women. Of course, the media should show more diversity in women’s bodies in order to represent all of us, and I have seen progress in this area, and not just in the magazines advertising it. I have been significantly heavier than I am now, and I was shocked the first time that someone implied that I wasn’t supposed to have body issues. This has made me do strange things, like making people look at my stomach to prove that my body is far from perfect. I don’t want anyone to think that my body is perfect, or in any way better than their body. I think that we have to recognize that no matter what our size or body type, most of us will feel that our bodies do not match up to the societal ideals represented in the media. No matter how perfect I have thought a woman’s body was, they have never agreed. The reality is that I have always felt fat and I expect that I will always feel fat. I have recently realized that this has nothing to do with my body, it has to do with the feeling of not measuring up. Working out eases this because it makes me focus on what my body can do, not on what it looks like. When I was heavier, I had accepted that I was a bigger girl and I was fine with it. It was almost like it freed me to focus on who I really was, not what I looked like. Then when I became smaller, I felt more judged, as if suddenly I was in an appearance competition. I also felt like I didn’t take up enough space in the world, like I was somehow diminished. These are issues that I’m still dealing with. I do wish that women in the public eye would not point out their body flaws, flaws which often look imaginary to the rest of us. If these women who appear so perfect and make their living off of their looks don’t measure up, what chance do the rest of us have of measuring up?

  11. beautifuldancer says:


    I’m sorry if what I said sounded like I was criticizing YOU for calling her a “toothpick” because (knowing your style of writing and feeling like I understand your voice) I feel like i know that your word choice was simply used to drive the point home to the readers.

    I completely agree that the effort to show someone who has the ideal body type/look that our society values, and then to point out “flaws” on her was a pretty poor effort. The only thing that I can say in the magazine’s defense is that they DIDN’T airbrush which is a little comforting, but again, when you have someone on the cover that NEEDS NO AIRBRUSHING, it still feels like a slap in the face.

    That being said, I to understand what it’s like to be “that girl” because I spent most of my early teens as a very slender dancer whom people ALWAYS commented on how they had a body like mine. At that time I STILL had self-esteem issues (mostly with things that had to do with my insides rather than my body, but I still didn’t think of myself as perfect although people seemed to covet my inability to gain weight).

    Since, I have suffered from a condition that has caused me to gain A LOT of weight in a short period of time and I’ve been having to deal with a newfound discomfort in my own skin. I too have been on both sides of the fence.

    It also concerns me that the message being portrayed by this cover is basically saying “LOOK THIS GIRL IS NOT AIRBRUSHED AND SHE HAS FLAWS” when her flaws are so unnoticeable that you would have to be told that she was unairbrushed.

    Things like that don’t necessarily “trigger” me into destructive behaviors, but I could see how someone could say “wow, well if she’s unairbrushed and looks like THAT, then I look like s#*!”

    So while Jennifer is real (which ALL LIVING BREATHING HUMANS ARE), I TOTALLY agree that she is not a great example to have on the cover of a magazine.

    That magazine made statements like “SHE’S REAL!” and it seemed like they were trying to convey that message as “SHE’S AVERAGE!”… which she clearly is not.

    Now weather she is “above” average or “below” average is subject to anyone’s opinion because I know people who would think she was perfect, and some who would think she’s too thin… but that’s the beauty of being “real” women, we have real brains and real opinions and we don’t HAVE to think in society’s way which is highly superficial.

    To me superficial = fake.

    thanks for clearing up your statements mamaV

  12. Jules says:

    I consider it very narrow-minded to assume that the media is one of the biggest influences in people’s perception of what is beautiful and desired. I was extremely thin in my teen years (according to BMI, underweight), not to mention that I am also 5’10” so I was the typical ‘model-type’. But did I feel my body was beautiful? Hell no! Although I was never a magazine reader, I would find myself occasionally turning to my sister’s magazines in order to see other thin girls being portrayed as beautiful because no one else around me would treat me as though I was worthy.

    Instead, I was teased all the time for being too thin, not to mention flat-chested. And not only was I teased at school, but I would even hear strangers criticizing my body, saying that ‘model-types’ like me were not feminine enough and they would speak with an air of disgust while expressing their confusion as to why thin, unfeminine, thus unattractive women were highlighted in magazines. The girls that had curves and a large bust were the ones considered beautiful. In fact, I only had one guy throughout my high school years say I was attractive because I looked like the girls in the magazines, whereas my curvier friends would get plenty of attention from multiple people.

    What that ended up doing to me was that I became a binge eater. I stopped eating a balanced, healthy diet and went straight for fat filled junk food in an attempt to gain weight. Alas, I didn’t gain a pound, despite eating meal portions twice as large as everyone else around me. Now, over 10 years later and having accepted the body I was born with, I am suffering the consequences of my bad eating habits. Still thin within most people’s concept but with what is considered a healthy BMI (thus no longer underweight, although only my butt and gut grew, not my bust 🙁 ), my energy level is extremely low compared to everyone else around me and it’s taking a long time for me to get in shape enough to enjoy the activities I want to do in life. Some eating habits are hard to break.

    So it really angers me to see beautiful, seemingly healthy women in magazines being criticized for being too thin. Some girls out there have no where else to go but to the magazines to make themselves feel beautiful and accepted. Does that mean that I think only thin women should be used in magazines? Of course not! But thin women shouldn’t be rejected from magazines either because they don’t fit certain people’s perception of health, beauty or reality. The biggest influence young girls have are their peers, not magazines. In addition, some of their biggest enemies are themselves, not the magazines.

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