No More Real And Fake WomenFebruary 24, 2012 No Comments
All women are real. I don’t mean to jump the gun, but there, I said it.
I’m just so sick of women being separated into two distinct groups, one being “real” and the other “fake.”
First of all, it seems downright derogatory to say that any woman is not real. I mean, is she some metaphysical phantom or something? Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.” If we’re going to take this philosophical cue, then all women that think, technically, are real.
Now, this has been a beef of mine for quite some time but this Adele business has really made it reach a boiling point. Disclaimer: I like Adele a lot. She has a beautiful voice and I have listened to her record many times. It’s the way that she’s talked about in the media that bugs me. After Karl Lagerfeld said that she was a “little too fat,” some media outlets felt the need to decry that, no, Adele is a “real” woman — more real than most of those “stick figure(s) with no soul” (in the words of Carrie Bradshaw).
Apparently, on the “real metre,” Adele is much higher than a supermodel. But what makes her real? Because the scale says she weighs more? Because “she is beautiful and a great British talent who touches people with her emotion and the real-life experiences in her songs?” Maybe it’s because her style “resonates with real women.”
Sadly, this clear-cut divide between what’s real and what’s fake is a slippery slope. Maybe you will concede that some supermodels are real. So you handpick the ones that demonstrate their “realness.” Heidi Klum is a hit on Project Runway. She may be a beautiful and svelte woman, but her deep knowledge of the fashion industry shows that she has brains (conclusion: she’s real). Tyra Banks is more real because the tabloids snapped a photo of her that shows she has cellulite, like many women do. Somehow her physical flaws make her more real to us.
But it goes beyond body size. We talk about women who wear too much makeup as wearing masks (therefore they’re not as real) and women who get implants or other plastic surgery as being fake. I can’t say I watch any of the Real Housewives shows, but I give them props for flying the “real” flag when many of them are actually “surgically enhanced.” And who cares. They’re women who, for whatever reason, aim for physical self-improvement.
Perhaps I’m going too far, taking the definition of real too literally. “Fake” doesn’t always have to be a slight and “real” not always a celebration of authenticity. As we know, words don’t always capture meaning to a tee.
Plus, there’s obviously a huge problem with body awareness in our culture. Women do see thin everywhere and may not think that their larger bodies match the norm. When women are battling eating disorders and depression, it makes sense that we would try to tip the scales in favour of women more representative of the majority.
Still, it should not come at the cost of making skinny women feel like they’re not as real as curvy ones. Perhaps they’re not really exercise-obsessed, carrot-eating freaks. Perhaps that’s just the way their bodies are.
Really, this is a rant with no end in sight. I hear the words “real” and “fake” being thrown around everywhere, and frankly it’s careless. Yes, there are women that are more “natural,” as in they choose not to wear a lot of makeup and are okay with their bust size, but this doesn’t make them any more real than anyone else. With her tiny waist and large breasts, Kate Upton is Barbie-like. Yet she’s real, and there’s no doubt she works hard in order to show off the body she has.
There must be other ways to express our feelings and judgments when talking about a woman’s appearance. Belittling people and favouring one body type over another is a dead-end. When it comes to women, let’s eliminate “real” and “fake” from our vocabularies.
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