No criteria constitute a “real woman”

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By challenging old standards, the “real woman” boxes herself into new criteria. Graphic by Ethan Roubenoff. Courtesy of the House of Findings.

By challenging old standards, the “real woman” boxes herself into new criteria. Graphic by Ethan Roubenoff. Courtesy of the House of Findings.

Marilyn Monroe never had a thigh gap. Nevertheless, she became a sex symbol to millions.

When we picture her, we do not think of how flat her stomach was or how toned her arms were. We picture a confident woman, smiling, taking the world by storm. It was her body that brought her fame, but it was her fearless attitude that made her an icon–Marilyn Monroe’s fame transcends her body image.

Women today have coined the term “real woman” and the slogan “real women have curves.” In an effort to take back what it means to be beautiful today, we have boxed ourselves in further. Instead of dispelling disturbing standards, we have fashioned a slew of new ones.

In an effort to take back what it means to be beautiful today, we have only boxed ourselves in further.How can we call certain women “real?” Whether a woman sees herself as skinny or fat, she will always be a real woman; just as we should not shame someone for being overweight, we should not invalidate them for being skinny.

We are created in all shapes and sizes, and in order to get past our insecurities as women, we need to recognize ourselves first and foremost as mothers, daughters, wives and sisters. We all want to feel pretty, and if we let go of any standards we hold to, then we can finally see ourselves as such. The truth is, there is no “real woman,” because every woman is real.

As a child, I collected Barbie dolls voraciously. I had pregnant Barbie, princess Barbie, astronaut Barbie, Barbies with blond, black and red hair. I grew up around women who wore makeup and women who had blond hair, but they were never Barbie, and neither was I; Barbie was a fantasy with underwear that was mysteriously printed onto her butt.

I played with her, I decapitated her, and yet I never strived to look like her. I had no preconceived judgments about beauty. If we can look at the body with that same childhood innocence, with no ideas of “right” or “wrong,” we will finally be able to accept ourselves.

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