Monday, August 8, 2011

Body policing & erasure & such

-Yes, I realize I have some thin privilege. That doesn't stop what specifically I am writing about from bothering me.-

There's no good way for me to start this. So I'm just going to start throwing words out there and it'll sort of maybe make sense.

One of the big slogans, for lack of a better word, that I've heard a lot of in reaction to the predominant unrealistic female body type seen in the media is "real women have curves!".

By that measure, I am not a real woman. That measure excludes many many women. Many athletic women aren't particularly curvy. Many trans women aren't particularly curvy. A lot of women of all sizes are, in fact, not particularly curvy. It's body policing to exclude even one of these groups of women from the category "real women". Those skinny models who it's fun to hate on? ALSO WOMEN.

This is something that has bothered me for a while, because, well, I am a woman and I have no curves. I wasn't going to say anything about it until a website that seeks to have photos of women of "all" body types came to my attention.

"All" body types includes:
-banana (straight up and down, shoulders and hips and waist all pretty much the same width).
-pear (wider hips than shoulders)
-apple (widest in the middle)
-hourglass (I'm gunna go on a limb and assume you know what that is)

According to their classification of "all" female body types, I don't have one. I'm much wider at the shoulders than the hips, & pretty much straight up and down from the armpits on down. There's no cute fruit name assigned to that. I know quite a few grown women who are shaped like me, and a lot of growing young women who are going to be shaped like me. As a teenager and young adult, some of the adults in my life joked that I was built like a very tiny man, but I was under the impression they were kidding.

So there's a whole visceral "well that sucks, yet another way women who happen to be me don't exist". But there's also the whole thing where body acceptance isn't a zero-sum game. Or shouldn't be.

We shouldn't police women for having the "wrong" shape or size in any direction. I wouldn't dream of saying something hateful about someone larger or rounder than me, but when in the name of empowerment someone (a real someone, not a strawwoman) yells at me to eat a fucking cheeseburger or calls me anorexic or pinches me somewhere not soft (pretty much anywhere) and proclaims that real women have curves...well, I don't see how that's empowering. Disempowering someone else isn't how empowerment works.

(and that isn't even getting into how being a disabled woman intersects with this, or how accusing someone of anorexia maliciously is ableist bullshit, or a lot of other things).


Anonymous said...

I agree completely, I don't know how it's like to have a body without curves so I don't know how you fell about this, but a body type does not make a woman to be less of a woman.

It's wrong to erase someone like that.

Women's body are not respected, I have curves and I was bullied because of it, being a teenager (and adult) with big breasts and curves makes you a target for harassment, even from 'respectful' family members, also woman with my body type can't be smart, or you have a brain or you have breasts, go figure.

Maxens M. Finch said...

One thing slightly related, I won't have noticed earlier, is how when trying to empower plus size/rounder body type women, people try to make them see themselves as possible sex objects. Like in that TV show "Belle toute nue". I say I won't have noticed earlier because it took another woman telling me, I guess it's privilege blindness.

Also your "body type" is (I think) an inverted triangle. In theory, only, because I once saw pictures of "every" body types, and they looked like the same woman who put on weight and muscles on different parts of her body, and dressed/posed a bit differently. I didn't fall in any, even the one I fell into theorically. And I guess people that are large or skinny might think they fall into some body type (pear, banana) by default because of their weight, and the person in the picture was average sized.