Stop calling me a "real woman"

Because you know what that implies? Are there really femmebots out there, complete with boob guns that make up the category of “not real” women? Are there girls made out of plastic? Is there a test you have to take, or are there government regulations sort of like they have for beef that mean we get tagged as real women, right next to the stamp stating we’re organic, because hey we’re composed of carbon-containing molecules?

It’s a bullshit term. It always struck me wrong when I went to Lane Bryant and was rewarded with “real woman dollars” for shopping. But the wrongness burst into ugly life when I re-watched the episode of Project Runway where one of the designers is a giant toolbag to a plus-size lady. The utter patronizing tone in which its delivered and that it’s obvious he’s using it in place of “fat” because he’s trying to weasel out of being eviscerated for being an asshole is even more insulting.

You’re not fooling anyone. We shouldn’t need some kind of smirking consolation prize for wearing clothing that’s bigger than a 16. We already know we’re real. We exist. It’s a sad disguise for the fact that often plus-size clothing feels like cultural punishment by setting set us in an adversarial position to women who wear “normal” sizes. Perhaps if we’re too busy trying to look down our noses at each other, we’ll miss the evil truth that we’re being compelled to attack people who should be our allies in this struggle, divided falsely along superficial lines.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe it’s just a pathetic attempt to make us feel better about ourselves. Hey, you’re large and are apparently considered unworthy to wear anything other than black smocks (it’s slimming, you know) but you’re a real woman. As if realness is determined by mass rather than an authenticity of spirit. 

Being a woman isn’t a contest that some of us have to lose. There is a full spectrum of women to which we all belong, an infinite continuum of what it means to “look like a woman,” and no part of that spectrum should be defined as inherently superior. Doing that (and then gleefully jumping over a cliff with the invention of photoshop) is what got us into this mess in the first place.

I’m tired of the implication that my struggle to accept myself has to come at the detriment of other women.

Real women are fat. Real women are thin. Real women come in all colors and shapes and identities, and sometimes we have curves, and sometimes we don’t but damnit we’re all real women.

And we’re all really beautiful.

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