Real women have curves.
Real men like curves, only dogs like bones.
Real women don't wear size 6.
Real women look like Beyonce.
These are some of the "motivational" posts I've seen on social media lately. Shocking, aren't they?
Take a moment to read them and maybe, just maybe, you'll feel the anger start to spread, exactly like I did.
The term "real women" has been bandied about in the media for quite a few years now. But, sadly, it's showing no sign of disappearing. In fact, advertising companies and beauty giants are using it more and more to try and win us over. But is it working? Is it heck!
There's just something about the term "real women" that angers me to my very core. I know that posts like these are meant in a positive way, that they're meant as a backlash against the gazelle-like supermodels who strut their way down the catwalks. These terms have been invented with a purpose, a reason: to empower curvier women, and perhaps women in general.
But, do they do this job? Of course they don't. Instead, they do the exact opposite and alienate 90% of womankind. They pit us against one another, place us in boxes that we feel we have to fit in to be truly beautiful. Sadly, this form of bodyshaming is becoming more and more common place. And, perhaps more worryingly, it's not men who are doing it, it's us ladies. Pretty much all the time.
You see, according to the Facebook brigade, you can only be a "real" woman if you have curves. You can only be a "real" woman if you have hips and boobs and no thigh gap. You can only be a "real" woman if your ribs don't show. And woe betide you if your hip bones dare to jut out.
Of course, as much as the whole "size zero" debate has impacted on women and the way we feel about our bodies, this is doing exactly the same. There's a real sinister underbelly to the term "real women" which sickens me. Whether or not you realise it, this is body shaming, pure and simple.
You see, when I glance down at my own body and compare it to these supposed "ideals", I sometimes feel ashamed. I sometimes feel hideously unattractive. And I very often feel quite upset.
For starters, you can see my ribs (and, yes, I do eat. A lot). And I don't have boobs spilling out over my bra cups, ready to prop up the bar and force men to come running. I also have fairly muscular arms and a defined stomach. Am I not a "real" woman? Does these mean I'm disgustingly repulsive? Am I less feminine for my athletic build?
In the last few months, I've been told that I must be anorexic (again, this comes down to the ribs). I've been told that my arms are too muscular (why? And who says they're too muscular?), and that my bottom is too big. And I've also been accused of starving myself to lose baby weight because "real women" don't lose it that quickly.
If I'm not a "real" woman, what am I? Am I some sort of hologram, an illusion?
And just who is "real" by society's standards now? Are slim women not real? Or athletic women? Tall ones, short ones, muscular ones, pale ones, hairy ones...are they not "real" too?
You don't really need me to tell you this, but of course they're real. They're as real as you and I, and that girl with the lovely broad shoulders and taut stomach I can see walking past my house right now.
Ladies, let's stop with the body shaming. Let's stop pitting ourselves against one another. Let's stop caring what these people think of us and our "fake" bodies. I sure as hell don't care what other women think of mine anymore, and I definitely don't care what men think. I'm proud of my body, and I'm not going to let society change or dictate the way I feel.
I'm not saying that real women can't be curvaceous. I'm not saying that real women can't have boobs or a big bum. But what I am saying is that all women are real, regardless of their shape and their size. Whether you have a six pack or stretch marks, you're real, and you're beautiful.
Finally, let's stop measuring our bodies and ourselves by what "real men" supposedly prefer. Ladies, we are more than just empty vessels for men to stare at and drool over. Yes, we are so much more!
The only thing that matters is that you're happy and healthy. If you're at the size you feel happiest at, then that's the size you should be.