This image of some store mannequins in Sweden (I wish I knew what shop) have been circulating around the net for a few days - I even shared it on my Facebook page, and wrote, "These look like real women - Brava Sweden!"
You've gotta dig this flicka's hairdo... and her socks are pretty rad, too.
People everywhere are loving this image - and why wouldn't they? I applaud the use of more realistic-looking models in ALL kinds of media. Ones that truly reflect the diverse world around us, more than just the "ideal". For me, this extends to using people of colour, and same-sex couples, and interracial families in more print ads and other commercial advertising, too. You know, the whole world.
Then there was a comment from my lovely friend Anna, who mentioned something about all women being "real" women, and I had to go back and reread what I'd written.
And she's absolutely right. Because words are powerful things. Whoops, my bad...
I totally agree that ALL women are REAL women. If you're not bionic, and you have a vagina, then it makes it so. (And I'm not even getting into the transgender area... the world is a complicated place, but everyone should be invited to the party, you know?) So, though meant to be cute and empowering, phrases like "real women have curves" or "real women have big butts" or "real women stay home with their kids" or "real women love their dogs the most" or "real women do it with the lights on"... these are all camp-dividing, war-waging kinds of words that don't actually empower anyone.
With the word "real" in my update status, it could appear that I believe only "curvy" women are real woman. Or that uncurvy women, by elimination, are clearly fake. It insinuates that anything different is less-than, in some way.
That's silly, of course. (And I'm sure she didn't suppose I thought such a thing, but it's been on my mind ever since...)
These mannequins do not reflect my body-type, due to proportion and whatnot, but no mannequin ever does. (And I'll bet most mannequins don't look like you, either.) I'm just SO very happy to see manufactured bodies that look more like grown-up women, and not ones fashioned after teenaged girls with 22" waists and boob-enhancements. Those proportions are downright ridiculous - people know this - but when one doesn't live up to an "ideal" pushed in front of one's face at every turn, self-esteem and sense of well-being can take a huge hit. Over and over again. I'd love to see some changes afoot in the fashion industry. (But I won't hold my breath.)
But moreover, there's something about attaching the word "real" to other words, that just smacks of... exclusivity. And I kinda hate that.
You might have seen Ash Beckham's talk about reclaiming the word "gay" recently. It's only by taking pause that we make societal shifts like these. It's why people don't use the N-word anymore, and why the word "faggot" makes most people cringe. And the inappropriate use of "retarded" is on it's way out too, blessedly. Societal pressure is key.
Now, I'm not equating using the word "real" with uttering, "that's so gay". Their uses are not the same, (though in both cases, the user often means no harm at all,) but we all have to check ourselves now and then - times change, and with it language does, too... and it's how we evolve as a people. It's good, and it's progressive.
What do you think?