#112 Because "real women have curves."
You’ve probably seen this meme. Or a similiar meme. Or just heard people express the idea in conversation. You might also have heard that real men like women without make-up or women who wear pyjamas or who don’t have a fake-tan.
Well, first of all: Anyone who identifies as a woman is a real woman.
Though the purpose of these memes are often to boost the self-confidence of women who don’t fit the beauty norm set by fashion magazines, they essentially just establish another beauty norm. They fail to see that the biggest problem isn’t what our beauty norm is, but the fact that we as a society have a beauty norm and women feel obliged to adapt to it. So, establishing a “curvy beauty norm” is really just an extension of the problem, not a solution. What is and is not attractive should be up to the individual to decide.
Secondly: the “real men like…” first assumes there is such a thing as a “real man” who differs from other inferior men. As previously mentioned, if you identify as a man, you are a real man. You’re not a chocolate man, an imaginary man or a Play-doh man, you are a real man. And then, it assumes that women only exists to give men ocular (and pretty much any other kind of) pleasure. The “Real men like…”-memes are based on the assumption that men have a right, and an obligation, to dictate what women should and should not look like. That a woman diets, gains weight, shops, and puts on make-up for the benefit of heterosexual men.
Summary: Though these memes are created with a good purpose, they don’t really improve women’s views of themselves or other women.