Large woman = "real woman" - huh?

I’m curious about why many “women of size” refer to themselves as “real women.” I’m confused by the terminology - what makes a larger woman any more “real” than one who is thin?

It’s just that more women are a size 10 or above, and not a size 2. “Real” is used in the sense of “average”, not true/false or real/imaginary (although the dream that every woman can like like the super model de jour (and should want to look that way) is imaginary).

And for the record–if a woman is even vaguely height/weight proportional, sizes 10, 12, and 14 (and even a 16) are not large, they are normal. And there are plenty of women who can wear sizes in the 20’s and still look fantastic. So, my question to you is, what do you think constitutes a “large” woman?

In my experience, all women, regardless of size, are real women, unless they are something else in disguise, like a cabbage or something.

Heute Die Welt - Morgens das Sonnensystem!

elmwood’s reply may be different than mine, but IMO, a “large” woman is a woman that is overweight.

Two things:

a) Am I the only male who’s clueless as to what women’s sizes generally translate to weight/width-wise? I’m too discreet to ask the women in my life what size they wear, since I’m afraid it might fall under the same category as, “How much do you weigh?” or “How old are you?” (Not that those are rude questions to ask – it just depends on the situation.)


b) Given that what, a billion? two billion? people in the world live on less than a dollar a day, that might tend to bring the average woman’s size down from what Americans and perhaps the populace of the industrialized world think it is.

Mostly, I think they do it out of jealousy or spite.

I’m a size 12-14, and I’m a real woman, but so is my size 6 friend, my size 0 friend, and my size 22 friend.

It really pains me to see women being so divisive. None of us are perfect, but all of us are “real” women, unless we’re cabbages or something.

Perhaps we associate skinny women with the “fake” women on TV and movies.

I totally agree.

I think Kallessa has it. It’s more a commentary on the ideal for female beauty in our culture, which is something that’s near-impossible for a lot of women to attain. (Indeed, that’s the point.) It’s not, at least in general, a slam on thin women. Some gals are just naturally petite.

First of all, women’s clothing sizes aren’t consistent. I normally fit into 12’s and 14’s, but I’ve bought things that fit that were labeled as small as 8 and large as 16 - and my size hasn’t changed from high school.

Let’s call me a 12-14, then.

I’m 5’3", measurements 34-28-38, weigh 150lbs as of this morning*, and I’m 38 years old. Does that help establish a reference point for you?

  • Many women with my height and measurements are typically 10-15 lbs lighter - I’m a bit of a jock so I carry a little more muscle than average. Or maybe it’s just the rocks in my head and the lead in my butt :stuck_out_tongue:

Broomstick… how you doin? [wink wink smile]

And I think the only people who find that ‘ideal’ attractive are fashion designers and photographers and other industry people who insist to us that is what’s attractive.

Many of us guys (most of us, really) prefer women with a lot more meat on their bones.

But then, we don’t buy fashion mags. I don’t know who does.

The average American woman wears a size 14, up from a size 8 in 1985, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Nutrition Exam Survey, 64 percent of Americans are overweight.

The actual source from the National Center for Health Statistics

I don’t think it’s a slight against size 2 women either. I think it’s a media gimmick to make over half the population not feel so marginalized. I know plenty of over size 12 women (more than half the women I know are over size 12) and none of us refer to ourselves as “real women” as opposed to those under size 12.

Another bit of reference for those who aren’t clear on women’s sizes:

I’m 20 years old, 5’4" and about 245 lbs (last time I checked, which was admittedly a while ago, may be 5-10 more now) and I wear a size 22-24. Don’t know measurements. Here are some pictures for visual reference (picture whore? who me?), although a lot of people are surprised to learn that I weigh as much as I weigh and wear the size I wear. I suppose I carry it well.

And to address directly the OP, my view of it is that it is used as both real as in “normal” and real as in contrast to the “fake” people on TV and in magazines: the airbrushed, starving themselves scrawny models. FTR, I don’t think I’ve ever referred to myself as a “real” women, though I have called myself large and lovely, big and beautiful, and a sexy fat chick. :slight_smile:

I think scr4 got it in one. Whether or not Callista Flockhart and Lara Flynn Boyle are obsessive dieters or just naturally thin, they ARE presented as ideal women, and as others have pointed out, it’s a weird thing since most women are not built like that, and most guys aren’t attracted to women who are built like that – after all, who’s the most downloaded woman on the Internet – Danni Ashe, and she’s definitely not skinny, got great big huge tits and a great big butt, too, and I for one am glad of it.

I like the theory that skinny women are the leaders in fashion and acting because the gay men who run the fashion industry and who are also influential in Hollywood like women who look like the skinny teenage boys they lust after.

Unreal woman here. 5’ 10”. 115-120 pounds. Small boned: 34,23,37 (yep, fat butt for a skinny girl)
Can never find pants that are long enough. Low rise pants which I prefer = butt cleavage. (For all those who sit behind me in class and restaurants, sorry about that)
No one makes a size 30C bra.
Nearly every shirt/blouse/top I wear falls short of meeting my pants. At least one inch of tummy shows at all times
When I visit a buffet, grocery store, or parties I am bombarded with comments about my food choices, how much I eat, how little I eat, etc.
I have been accused of having a tape worm. Flattering, eh?
On Saturday at a softball tournament, I decided to have a banana split. With the wind blowing in my direction I could clearly hear a group of women on the bleachers taking bets on how soon I would go to the ladies room to throw up. (I wanted badly to wash sticky ice cream off my hands, but didn’t dare go near the ladies room once I discovered there was money riding on me)
Any woman (or man) whose weight/height varies from average is subject to interrogation, unsolicited comments, helpful diet tips, or unwanted stares and attention.
Labels aren’t always meant to be offensive. A blanket statement or generalization can be a useful coping mechanism used to describe any deviation from average. We may be hypersensitive to bigotry, but the characterization of “real women” to describe sizes 10-20 or so suits me fine. You real women may be envious of my metabolism; but I am equally jealous of your curves. Or, better still, you confident and secure women are content with your height, weight and measurements regardless of statistics.
Beauty and desirability cannot be measured. It varies with the beholder.
steps down from soapbox

We can’t really be sure that some of the posters here claiming to be women aren’t actually cabbages spreading disinformation, now can we?

I think part of it may also be that after a certain size/weight, you tend to start losing your boobs, hips, and butt–the things that make you look like an adult woman rather than a teenage girl. I mean, look at the sizing (and cut) of the clothes in juniors and misses departments, versus ladies and women’s. They’re not just smaller, they tend to be cut less curvily.

Say what you will about ahem larger women, but they tend to have the physical characteristics that we associate with adults. Thus, in one respect they look more like “real” women than smaller women who have the physical characteristics of kids pretending to be adults.

I hate the whole “real woman” bullshit, and have never used that particular term, except when relating stories about the stupidity of others. I think my aversion stems from the other versions of being a “real” woman that I hear more frequently, namely that a real woman wants to have babies and cook and clean and take care of her man.

When my parents were first married, they decided not to have kids until she was out of school. This was a mutual decision, mind you, not something Mom just put her foot down on. People actually had the nerve to tell Dad, in front of her no less, that pretty soon she’d grow up and act like a real woman and give him a baby. DrJ and I catch the remnants of this sort of crap over our decision to be childfree; nobody’s rude enough to actually use the phrase “a real woman” but it’s implied fairly often.

And then there’s my poor cousin. Not long after she married, she and her hubby bought a house a few miles from his parents’ place, where he proceeded to spend almost all his time. Their house was a place for him to shower, keep his stuff, get laid, and occasionally eat a meal. They fought about it a lot, and she came home for a week to cool off and give them both some distance. She called to talk to her husband, and he gave her an ultimatum: either come home and start acting like a real woman (read as doormat who does windows and puts out), or come get your shit out of my house.

So, yeah, the phrase “a real woman” sticks in my craw pretty badly.

I’ve never seen either of them presented as “ideal” in anyway. I have seen magazine covers discussing the possibility of them being anorexic or bulemic, though. “Ideal,” as presented by the media I’m familiar with, does not tend to be the mega skinny Kate Mosses et al, but more like normal skinny. The first example that pops into my head would be someone like Jessica Alba from Dark Angel, although there are many other examples of stars who are thin, not skinny or scrawny or abnormal, and are more or less universally tauted as beautiful, and thus “ideal.” I know attractive women who are as thin as her and the others, and they’re perfectly “real,” and they have curves and boobs and hips and all the niceties that women have.

The thing missed by a lot of folks who either push the “media ideal” or the “real woman” crap (and a lot of it is crap) is that women do come in various shapes and sizes. I’m short and large-boned and stocky but I’m comfortable with my size and the men in my life have told me I look good to them. Psalex is obviously of a very different shape, but even though she is both taller than me and weighs less than me, she may well be a very healthy-looking and attractive women. After all, there are body types where 120 lbs at 5’10" is right, proper, and healthy.

The real question is - is the girl healthy? That is, is her weight stable, her eating habits free of dysfunction, and is she carrying muscle and not flab?

Oh, and spooje, in my experience the people buying fashion magazines are usually insecure women. Men certainly aren’t interested in them (if you want to see what men are interested in, read men’s magazines) and those of us secure in our body shapes don’t have much use for them.