why I don’t like the term real women

why I don’t like the term real women

Kimba Likes - why I don't like the term real women

Let’s talk about something that’s been bothering me for a while.  Why I don’t like the term real women.  The term “real” when applied to women.  I don’t like it. I don’t get it.

Real women have curves. Real mums stay at home (or breastfeed or give birth vaginally or … ) You get the drift. There’s a whole lot of pressure on women about being “real”.  Really?

I happen to think that using the word real is just a really weird way to describe people.  Are we saying that if you’re not part of the “real” group, then you’re fake?  Is that a logical conclusion to draw?

Whilst I’m all for body positivity and empowerment of women, I can’t see how naming women as “real” does anything except be divisive.

How many times have you seen comments on Facebook posts saying things like “only dogs like bones” and “men don’t like stick insects” and “men only like real women with real curves”.

It also leads into something else about women.  Being a mother.  As in “what would she know about being a real mum? She works / has a nanny / insert other ridiculous statement”.

I’ve even been told that I’m not a “real mum” because my baby was conceived via IVF, born by emergency C section, and is an only child.

Real mum? What does that even mean? Personally, I think I’m an unreal mum!

why I don’t like the term real women

Firstly, I just don’t think talking about “real women”, with the assumption this means curves, makes women who are naturally thin with a more athletic figure feel fantastic about themselves.  This often veers into body shaming – and I’m not cool with that.

Secondly, you can rock some serious curves if you’re a size 6, size 16, or size 26.  Curves are not exclusive to the bigger end of the standard size range nor to plus size.  Curvy is a euphemism for plus size nowadays.

All women have bodies, including, you know, “real women”.  One shape or size isn’t better than another shape or size.  There is no wrong way to have a body.

I looked at what people mean when they say “real women”.  In my view, it’s a misguided attempt to make women who aren’t what society deems as ideal feel better about themselves.  It’s women who aren’t models, who aren’t sample size, who aren’t perfect … as far as I can work out.

I absolutely loathe the idea of making myself feel better by putting someone else down.  How does that make anyone feel better?  The solution isn’t to raise one whilst lowering the other.

my real women solution

What is the solution though? What do we say? How do we describe the women who are pegged as being “real women”?

I’m taking my cue from Styling You’s Everyday Style project, which is all about showcasing how everyday women get dressed every day. It’s an amazing movement to normalise what women look like in their everyday lives.

It’s also the thought process behind my Style it Project, where women of all shapes, sizes and ages are encouraged to show off how they style our key item every month. It’s a great way to see ourselves represented.

Everyday Style (and my Style it Project and seasonal style projects like Winter Style File) are more than just style challenges – they’re communities of supportive women who get inspired by each other.  Now that’s real.

So I’m rolling with everyday women … on those occasions when a descriptive term is required.

But mainly, I’ll be using the term “women”.  We are all real.  And that’s cool.

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  • Grace - 19 July 2016 - 11.55 am

    Love this. I’m with you on that IVF issue. Why does it make less real? I was reading an article that featured women who had given birth to multiples and in introducing both stories, they mentioned that the babies were conceived naturally. Why does that even matter?ReplyCancel

  • Flat bum mum - 18 July 2016 - 12.56 pm

    Hmmmm, I hear what you are saying. It is a tricky term. I can’t believe someone would say you are not a real mother because your child was born using IVF. What an awful, cruel thing to say. Real mums are every mum. ReplyCancel

  • sydneyshopgirl - 18 July 2016 - 12.28 pm


    SSG xxxReplyCancel

  • LydiaCLee - 16 July 2016 - 9.02 am

    Great post. I know this is bad for the sisterhood, but I think women (and men really don’t seem to do it as much) spend far too much headspace thinking about other women. We need more of a ‘good for her, not for me’ mentality. I just read a ‘lazy mums delay toilet training’ article. So apparently we now worry about other kids going to the toilet – who has time for that? If we poured all this judgmental energy into world peace we’d have it sorted by now. It’s so dumb. You want to wear that – high five. I’m wearing this. You have a 5 year old, why would I even be curious about how you gave birth or fed it in the first 12 months. It’s moronic on a level beyond stupid. If you are alive and kicking, you’re real. Whether you live like KK or someone in the suburbs…it’s all real…ReplyCancel

  • Annette - 15 July 2016 - 8.28 pm

    Well written Kimba, you’ve covered this well. What is the deal with ‘real’ mum, dad, wife etc. It has become a figure of speech without being questioned. I really enjoyed your post. AnnetteReplyCancel

  • Denyse Whelan - 15 July 2016 - 8.06 pm

    You make some excellent points Kimba…and what is it I ask about we humans that we need to group everyone anyway?ReplyCancel

  • Melinda - 15 July 2016 - 3.50 pm

    Yes, yes, yes (insert a million clapping emojis here!)

    Those ‘real women have curves’ images that make their way around the internet make me feel so uncomfortable. We’re all real women. I can’t really say much more as you’ve said it all and far more eloquently than I could. You are #awesome! xReplyCancel

  • Dani - 15 July 2016 - 3.15 pm

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for writing this Kimba, as it definitely needed to be said. You’re unreal! Xo😘ReplyCancel

  • HandbagMafia - 15 July 2016 - 2.50 pm

    Well said! Being a woman is so much more than how your body looks, anyway!ReplyCancel

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