Thursday, June 06, 2013

Sizes: A Manifesto in Parts

This is the second in my ongoing discussion about sizing.

In this post, I was initially going to send out a feel-good list of resources for us to look at, in order to ground ourselves in the idea that every body is different, thus making it impossible for any system of standardization to cater to everyone.

I got sidetracked with a rant about what was meant to be my first resource, My Body Gallery.

Here, the rant.

Though I don't care for their tagline, My Body Gallery is a user-reliant site that has women self-determine their body shape and enter height and weight data. It's as helpful as the accuracy of the input, but still a nice reminder that just because you're 5'5" and 145 lbs, that doesn't mean you're going to look like every other woman with that same height and weight.

The offending tagline for My Body Gallery is "What Real Women Look Like".

Please, please everyone, do your best to stop using the term "real women look like X". That implies that those women you're comparing against aren't real. We're all humans. We're all real. Keep this in mind when selecting the terms you're using.

I know, I know, you mean skinny, tall, big-breasted women who obviously have had "work done". If that's what you mean, then say it. Don't imply those women aren't real. They're real. Some people have genes coded in their bodies that make them tall, skinny and big breasted. Just because our culture happens to value their looks over others, keep in mind that a) this is fickle (in the 50s, a larger size was the one valued), and b) THIS DEMONSTRATES THAT A WOMAN'S VALUE IS RELIANT ON HER LOOKS, and that's not good for any of us humans. So let's take down that system, person-by-person, by treating each other with respect and understanding. There's a lot of pressure out there on women to look a certain way. Let's all try our best not to participate in it by shaming other women.

I know I've been guilty of my anger at this system being pointed in the wrong direction. This system which values one body type and shames all others. I'm certainly guilty of disliking things about my body that have no impact on my worth as a person. But, end up a detriment to my comportment and attitude; some stupid shackles I was taught to put on myself.

So I try my best to knowingly undo those stupid shackles. That's what I call my feminism.

At one point I was hell-bound against wearing any makeup. At another, it was a certain type of clothing.
I'm trying my best to navigate the waters of feminitity, being female, being a woman, and functioning in this culture.

So yeah, rant over. But, you know, sort of "to be continued" with this whole Sizes: A Manifesto in Parts series.

This awesome woman's videos on the youtubes are inspiring and eye opening. But, if you don't care for the swearing, just watch out. There's some in there.


Anonymous said...

Love this! This is also the thing that bothers me about the Dove commercials, which are supposed to be all woman-affirming and stuff. It's still about the fact that your value is based on your beauty, even if that idea of beauty is wider than we think. How about, you are valuable because you are human?

ekittie said...

Love this post!

And that video was great!

Meredith MC said...

Thanks for this!

Hilary said...

Awesome post! Thank you for saying all of this. I am also NO fan of the "real women" thing. Partially because, according to some things I've seen, as a tall, (naturally) thin, (naturally) blonde woman, I'm not real. (I do have small boobs, though.) In real life, too...I had a friend once tell me, after a few drinks, that, "you're lucky you're so nice, because usually I would never be friends with someone like you." Really?? Because I have Scandinavian genes that I had nothing to do with that make me tall and blonde? Like you said, our value has nothing to do with our looks!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post! Thank you so much for a)thinking this and b)posting it. If your rants are always this thoughtful and well written, then please - rant on!

Oona said...

Oh my, yes... Thank you! In a class where we were discussing women's self-image, I once had a fellow student I had known for three years look straight at me and say, "But nobody actually wears a size zero." I just dropped my jaw and said, "So here I am, nobody in person." In my family, the women get shorter every generation, and we don't weigh much, either. It's a huge pain to be a) struggling to find adult-looking, professional clothing to wear on the job while b) struggling to deal with people who either envy or make fun of your size. Knitting and sewing have helped me deal with a) above, but not with the attitudes of women who let size-ism get hold of them. Thank you, and thanks to others who have commented for affirming that we are all real, all exciting to get to know, and all worthwhile human beings.