Saturday, April 27, 2013

Women Aren't Required to be Your Idea of "Perfect."

We often hear about how fat shaming is horrible (it is) and how shaming naturally thin women is also horrible (it is).  What isn't addressed as often is the awful reality that we've rapidly become a culture in which no one seems to see a problem with judging women for merely having any type of body.  It isn't just a plus-size vs. model-thin issue.  It isn't just men doing the judging.   I think one problem is that people don't understand when it is and when it is not appropriate to bring up personal preferences, especially online. If you like shorter, muscular women, by all means, date/marry/live with/look at a shorter, muscular woman.  Tell that woman that you appreciate her height and her muscles.

Image from Dove.

Just remember: to compliment one of these women, you don't have to put the others down.
If you don't want to say something positive, you don't have to comment at all.

Posting the comment "I prefer shorter, more muscular women" on a picture of a woman who is tall and not muscular really only sends the message "I think all women need to be what I consider perfect in order to exist."  It doesn't contribute anything meaningful to the conversation, makes you sound just a tad conceited, and you don't gain anything by it, so why make that comment?  If your comeback is "because I can" or "I have the right to express my opinion," please go back and read why I'm tired of people using that as an excuse to be rude, cruel, or offensive.

Let's not pretend that it is only men who see women's bodies as objects to be scrutinized, either.  Women are doing it too.  Women can be even harsher on other women (I get the feeling that this is due to their own insecurities). A woman once asked me what size I wore to get an idea of what size jacket to buy her daughter-in-law.  When I told her that I wore a 2 in the jacket she was holding, but it did pull across the chest, she said, "I can see it might.  You don't look like a 2, though."  Then she proceeded to tell me all about how her own daughter was "petite and slender and wears a 4" and how I was probably wearing the wrong sizes and how bad it looks when people are "too big for their clothes."  I was so taken aback by this woman's need to comment on a stranger's body that I just blinked at her, shrugged and walked away.

Image from:

"Too extremely proportioned"
"Weird small feet"
"Need less makeup."
We even judge imaginary women now.

A coworker later said that I "shouldn't complain about it, because I was so tiny and Jacket Lady probably meant that I looked smaller than a 2."  I was startled, firstly because I certainly hadn't intended to complain. I was laughing about it: Had I missed the memo reminding everyone about "National Judge Others by Arbitrary Numbers Day"?  In my closet, I have clothes in five different sizes!  Who on earth fits into one size in every store?!  Secondly, because shouldn't women of any size and shape be able to complain about complete strangers commenting on their appearance without being dismissed?!  The mere fact that another woman was shrugging it off made me incredibly sad and more than a little upset when I reflected on it.  I know that I do not fit everyone's definition of attractive/perfect.  Just because I might fit some people's definition doesn't mean I don't have insecuritieseither.  We will never be everyone's ideal.  That's a given.  But it isn't necessary for all of the people who find us less than ideal to tell us that.  Yet somehow it is becoming more and more acceptable for them to do so.

How do we fight this phenomenon?  Well, we can start by not treating it as "to be expected" or "normal."  We can show some female solidarity and not do this to other women.  We can stop accepting the judgment of certain women's bodies if they "open themselves up to it" by wearing certain clothes or by simply being a public figure like many female celebrities.  It is never OK.  It is unacceptable.  And it boggles my mind that some people do not see how incredibly egotistical and awful it is to tell a woman that she is not their idea of perfect.


  1. It's funny how often we judge the appearance of others without even having second thoughts (I know the judgement is partially instinctual but comments aren't necessary.) My trainer commented the other week that I was shorter than I appeared, a helmet fitter said a while back that my head was "deceptively large", and when I worked for Hershey, a guest asked how I "stay so tiny with all this chocolate?" The first two weren't judgements on my attractiveness but all three were comments they didn't give a second thought to giving.

  2. Loved this post! Women are taught, even explicitly told, that we have to be attractive to be important. Alongside that, we're told that we're not pretty unless we meet some absurdly specific criteria. I'd rather be free to be beautiful in my own way, or even--gasp!--free to not be beautiful at all. Anyway, keep fighting the good fight!

  3. Crossing the Delebear- I agree; it's so strange how it's become almost second nature for so many people to make observations about another person's looks *to* that person. I think there might be room for differentiating between harmless observations like "You get a few freckles across your nose when you're in the sun" (I get that a lot) and negative observations, but it's still strange when you think about it.

    Snarky Lady- I'm glad you enjoyed it! I personally think that each woman has a unique beauty, but I agree that no woman has to meet anyone else's standard of beauty to matter. Our personalities, interests, and opinions are things that should make us important, not our looks!