As a lady with a curvy figure, I have often been described as having the body of a ''real woman''. The first time I had this term applied to me, it felt like one hell of a compliment. Having struggled with my body shape for a sadly high number of years, it brought a relieved smile to my face and eased the tension throughout my whole being. But I soon realised, that through this ''compliment'', other people were essentially being put down. I know painfully well how that feels, and so, this cancelled out the supposed commendation I had just been given in a lightening flash. I am not ok with my natural body shape being used to stunt other people.
Body image insecurities are a flustering, frustrating thing. Growing up, I would have done anything to have the athletic shape my classmates had. To have smaller hips. To have smaller boobs. To generally be smaller. But now? All of a sudden, my form is being characterized as ''godly''. People tell me that real men like curves and only dogs go for bones - oh but wait - that's a good thing! Is it? Have we learned absolutely nothing in the past however many years from the fashion and advertising industry's portrayal of only one body type? It's completely pointless to lift up one group of people and subsequently push the other down. That simply cannot be called body positivity.
I'm beyond pleased that this year has seen massive success in the plus size modelling industry. Why does this please me? Because for far too long, we have been given subliminal message after subliminal message from those who decided - without being asked to - that ''nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels'' and that the only kind of woman who can sell clothes is a tall, slim and youthful one. I have lived through the effects that this kind of advertising has, so excuse me for wanting to raise my hands up in the air and scream ''HALLELUJAH!'' when models like Robyn Lawley tear up the fashion industry. (Don't get me wrong, the plus size industry too has flaws, but I shall leave that for another day.) Does this mean that I am against those of womankind who are naturally slim? No. Does it mean that I want to put them down and make them feel exactly how I felt as a young girl? Absolutely not. It means that diversity should be commonplace on the catwalks - as it is in everyday life. When was the last time you walked down the street and saw nothing but ladies who were toweringly tall, young, very slim with facial features that looked like they had been chiselled? It simply isn't real. Neither is expecting every lady on the street to have a body like Ashley Graham.
What is real is differences. Wonderful, inspiring differences. As happy as I am to see more plus models making it big, it annoys me that we are now beginning to lean over to the opposite standpoint. It is not ok to fat shame. Just as it is not ok to skinny shame. In fact, let's just cut out the shaming altogether, shall we?
How about instead of plastering these labels all over each other which we seem to have an insistent obsession with, we coat each other in appreciation. Empathy. Understanding. Respect.
I HAVE SHOCKING NEWS FOR YOU: Whether you're a size 6 or 26 - or anything in between (let's face it, there's far more than two drastically different kinds of bodies to be celebrated here!) you are a real woman. If you're a human lady, you're real.