Real Women Are…


By Kate Kole

I was glued to Lady Gaga’s performance at the Super Bowl. Her dancing, her singing, her trust in suspension cables. I made a joke to my husband that she needs to come teach my fitness classes, as I’m usually winded just talking in the midst of squat jumps and mountain climbers, and she could likely belt Born This Way, miraculously hitting each note while jumping high and landing low.

As I scrolled through my news feeds, I saw other people echo the same impressed sentiment that I experienced during her halftime show Sunday night, and it wasn’t until Monday afternoon that I stumbled across any articles mentioning criticism of her body. I was stunned. And yet, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the shaming. It happens all the time. Jennifer Aniston detailed that reality in her Huffington Post article last year, saying “the way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.”

The images, messages, notions, and suggestions of what it means to be a real woman are literally everywhere. You’ve seen them, right? The ones declaring that real women have muscles or curves, or are skinny or toned or voluptuous or sexy.

Tina Fey took those generalized characteristics a step further for us in Bossypants, when she wrote, “every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

Reading her description of the expectations we place on women makes me want to laugh and cry at once. It’s preposterous and yet I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel those pressures daily. That I don’t stare and sometimes scrutinize my belly that’s never housed a 6-pack. That I don’t wince a bit as my shirt inches up to reveal that my midsection isn’t perfect. That I’m yet to ever meet the standard that I’ve been hoping to achieve for the better part of the last 15 years.

And each time I see a celebrity like Lady Gaga criticized for failing to meet the image of what it means to be the ideal woman, I feel an extra dose of self-judgement start to creep in. If she’s not enough then what am I?

Well, after taking some time to reflect on that over the last couple days, here’s my answer: I am a woman. A real woman. With a body, and a brain, and a soul. I’m a woman who loves fiercely, and feels deeply, and has hopes, dreams, and goals that exceed far beyond my physical body. I am beautiful, not because of toned legs or sculpted arms, but because I have a heart that cares for others and I believe in the good that we all have to offer. And I am enough, not because of the way my body appears in a swimsuit, but because of the ideas I have that are unique to my mind, and the stories I can extend based on my own distinct personal experiences. I’m flawed because I’m real. And those flaws are what make me relatable. They’re the gifts that allow me to connect to others and understand their struggles in a way that perfection never would.

So, I’ll take this body of mine that may forever be seen and judged by others as imperfect and flawed, believing instead that it is its own brand of beautiful. Beautiful that isn’t meant to be compared or scrutinized, but celebrated and embraced.

Go ahead ladies, own it.

{featured image via pexels}

4 thoughts on “Real Women Are…

  1. lifestyleforyoureyes says:

    Nicely said! I have actually never read that book but wow! What a way to put it perfectly, this imagine that is seen to be “right” or “ideal” is so crazy as it truly does combine aspects of multiple woman to compile one individual which is not right. I often feel pressure to look a certain way as well but am working towards accepting who I am and bettering things I want to focus on not what others want. Glad you are able to be confident with yourself!😃


  2. thedramaqueencantellstories says:

    You know, I didn’t even know she was being criticized until the “defensive” came. Honestly I did see her belly and thought, “Wow she looks amazing”. And when the shaming came, I said… I guess she wasn’t as fit as she was before, but damn, I didn’t even notice.

    Honestly, what’s wrong with these people?


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