If you are one of the many fans of my 2011 blog post entitled “Real Women,” I thank you for your interest in my work.
The old blog page for that piece is gone. The text is below.
Please do not redistribute, repost, or in any way republish online without attaching my name and a link to this page. If you’d like to share it in a printable form, click here for a PDF. If you would like to reprint or republish this in any other format, please see the bottom of this page.
by Hanne Blank
Excuse me while I throw this down, I’m old and cranky and tired of hearing the idiocy repeated by people who ought to know better.
Real women do not have curves. Real women do not look like just one thing.
Real women have curves, and not. They are tall, and not. They are brown-skinned, and olive-skinned, and not. They have small breasts, and big ones, and no breasts whatsoever.
Real women start their lives as baby girls. And as baby boys. And as babies of indeterminate biological sex whose bodies terrify their doctors and families into making all kinds of very sudden decisions.
Real women have big hands and small hands and long elegant fingers and short stubby fingers and manicures and broken nails with dirt under them.
Real women have armpit hair and leg hair and pubic hair and facial hair and chest hair and sexy moustaches and full, luxuriant beards. Real women have none of these things, spontaneously or as the result of intentional change. Real women are bald as eggs, by chance and by choice and by chemo. Real women have hair so long they can sit on it. Real women wear wigs and weaves and extensions and kufi and do-rags and hairnets and hijab and headscarves and hats and yarmulkes and textured rubber swim caps with the plastic flowers on the sides.
Real women wear high heels and skirts. Or not.
Real women are feminine and smell good and they are masculine and smell good and they are androgynous and smell good, except when they don’t smell so good, but that can be changed if desired because real women change stuff when they want to.
Real women have ovaries. Unless they don’t, and sometimes they don’t because they were born that way and sometimes they don’t because they had to have their ovaries removed. Real women have uteruses, unless they don’t, see above. Real women have vaginas and clitorises and XX sex chromosomes and high estrogen levels, they ovulate and menstruate and can get pregnant and have babies. Except sometimes not, for a rather spectacular array of reasons both spontaneous and induced.
Real women are fat. And thin. And both, and neither, and otherwise. Doesn’t make them any less real.
There is a phrase I wish I could engrave upon the hearts of every single person, everywhere in the world, and it is this sentence which comes from the genius lips of the grand and eloquent Mr. Glenn Marla:
There is no wrong way to have a body.
I’m going to say it again because it’s important: There is no wrong way to have a body.
And if your moral compass points in any way, shape, or form to equality, you need to get this through your thick skull and stop with the “real women are like such-and-so” crap.
You are not the authority on what “real” human beings are, and who qualifies as “real” and on what basis. All human beings are real.
Yes, I know you’re tired of feeling disenfranchised. It is a tiresome and loathsome thing to be and to feel. But the tit-for-tat disenfranchisement of others is not going to solve that problem. Solidarity has to start somewhere and it might as well be with you and me.
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hanne dot blank at gmail dot com