If you are a human, and you have say, eyes, and have encountered either internet, television, magazines, or advertising in any form, you know that society seems to have certain ideas of what is and isn’t beautiful, what is and isn’t feminine. And for a long time, this has been basically a very narrow concept that (at least as I’ve assimilated it in my little mind) involves whiteness, fairness of hair and eyes, thinness, but with a certain amount of curve in the breasts and hips, and a certain sort of go-along-to-get-along-ness that doesn’t ever make anyone uncomfortable or threatened or challenged. I could get all feministy and theory-ish on ya, but seriously, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
And I totally get that there is a natural desire on the part of anyone who falls outside these narrow strictures to push back, to challenge that, to say, that’s not what a beautiful woman is, THIS is. But, it seems to me, more often than not, those attempts to break out of the narrow bounds of societally accepted femininity end up creating just another narrow definition. Now, I’ve been in enough internet arguments on feminist and feminist-leaning websites and even just websites for women to know that most of the time, people don’t really mean what they say so narrowly. And yet statements like “Real Women Have Curves” make me incredibly sad. Of course, “Some Real Women Have Curves” doesn’t have the same ring to it, doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker or a tee shirt quite so nicely, and yet, isn’t that what most of us REALLY mean when we say stuff like that? Not to mention, if you look at those Dove models, it’s still obvious that there is an upper limit to what they’re going to put in the ads. Beth Ditto wasn’t chosen to sell us our thigh-firming cream. You might not think Beth is pretty (many people do!), but she’s still a REAL woman, just the same.
What set me off TODAY was seeing this on Meghan McCain’s Twitter feed:
Isn’t the idea that a “real ass” is “big and juicy” just as reductive as the societal idea that an acceptable ass is the opposite?
I understand that many who know me, who know what I look like, might read a post like this and say THIN PRIVILEGE! And it’s true, my body as it naturally is generally fits into the societal standards of “acceptability.” I know I come from a place of privilege in that regard. I know that I do not know what it is like to be looked at and judged in the same way someone who struggles with weight or other physical issues does. Though I would say that I do know what it is like to not love myself, to hate my own body, to cry because of hurtful things that others say about it, I do not see the world the same way as Meghan McCain, who has been unfairly snarked on by people as high-profile as pundit Laura Ingraham for her weight and appearance, an appearance I think is perfectly lovely.
And yet, really, aren’t we all in this fight together? Don’t these narrow standards hurt all of us? And when we push back against them and try to overcome them and get rid of them, can’t we do that in a way that doesn’t leave just another group out?
The idea that female bodies are objects for public consumption and judgment is really the problem. Meghan McCain shouldn’t have to defend her “big and juicy” ass to anyone any more than I should be subject to cat calls while standing at bus stops. The real slogan should be WHAT MAKES A REAL WOMAN IS NOT FOR YOU TO SAY.