“Real women” don’t exist

“The Body Beautiful” is a season of documentaries starting November 19th on BBC Three which will explore body image and how people view themselves.

With rates of bulimia, anorexia and obesity increasing among Britain’s population, it’s apparent that we as a culture have an issue with our weight.

Fashion is an industry often cited with causing some of these issues, but is the effort they are making to prove they aren’t encouraging eating disorders further fuelling the body image issue?

Catherines Real Model Search

Every so often fashion magazines, designers or shops try to get some publicity by featuring “real women” in their magazines or advertising campaigns. These “real women” are the polar opposite of what we are used to seeing in the fashion industry. It is often size 14+, older females who live up to the appropriate definition of “real women”

Don’t get me wrong, featuring women who don’t meet the usual model standards (size 6-8 teenagers) is a good thing. Very, very few people can meet the usual model ideal. But that doesn’t mean that models aren’t real women.

A lot of these women are either naturally this size, or maintain a good diet and exercise regime in order to get their bodies. There are many who are anorexic or bulimic, that is true, and is a serious issue that the fashion industry needs to sort out. But more often than not the successful supermodels are women who eat well and work out.

It’s often quoted in the size debate that the average women in the UK is a size 14. This is the average. This is what is claimed makes up the “real woman”

But reading up on the other “averages” such as the average family consisting of 1.96 children, and that the average women will marry at 28.8 years old, you notice that these are just numbers. Have you ever met someone who meets these “averages”? Is this really what a “real woman” is?

Just because I’m a size 10, does that mean I’m not a “real woman”? Just because I’m taller than the UK average 5ft 3in, does that also mean I’m not a “real woman”?

The phrase “real women” is just insulting. Women are human beings – we can’t be measured and sampled and calculated into an ideal number or statistic to fit into. Having a photo shoot filled with a bunch of size 14 40-year old’s does not represent what a “real woman” is or should be. And it’s not helping the issue of body image in any way to say we need to fit into this average either.

We need to promote a culture of loving and looking after our bodies. A culture of enjoying good, healthy food (and treating yourself of course!) and exercising. Of treating our bodies like the temples we are. What we don’t need is a shape or number or image to be forced to fit into.

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