3 thoughts on “Join the Conversation

  1. I think for the purposes of this blog, the term we need to define is not “real”, but “beauty.” If we are concerned with physical appearance, then, yes, the word “real” becomes problematic. But, if we are talking about “beauty” as a side-effect of confidence and self-respect, then “real” becomes much less conflicted. Just a thought.

  2. Schwyzer’s not entirely wrong, though he is a little late to the party. He’s hardly the first to criticize the ‘real’ movement for merely emphasizing the other side of the same paradigm. It is obviously a valid criticism. But he doesn’t really offer a suggestion for changing the discourse – just complains that men should be able to hire prostitutes without feeling ‘fake’. The only problem with ‘real’ – and this has been addressed in recent years – is that the definition of ‘real’ needs to be what I think you’re aiming for, Elizabeth, which is that it reflects the way a woman is when she makes decisions for herself, rather than making them to conform to some externally-imposed ideal. Now, I’m not sure why Schwyzer’s disappointed in the drop in plastic surgery for teenagers; I certainly am not and that’s because I don’t think teens have the cognitive development to make decisions like that. Nevermind that their bodies are still developing so maybe let’s just wait it out and see what happens?

    The point is that the ‘real’ movement needs to focus on encouraging women to be who they are to the best of their ability. If a woman is overweight, otherwise healthy, and happy with the way she is, she should be supported in being happy, not castigated because she doesn’t look like someone else. And where this enters the commercial sphere is that corporations would do well to create products for all types of women, so the majority of us don’t have to try to conform ourselves – emotionally and physically – to the constraints of a ‘skinny’ society.

  3. I agree. There is a fundamental difference between Schwyzer’s examples of women’s and men’s “realness quotient” that he leaves unaddressed, and that in all of his examples a man’s degree of realness is defined by thier actions (crying at movies, eating quiche, buying girls, etc.), while a woman’s is defined by her physical appearance. This, for me, is the crux of the issue. The problem is not only the accepted ideals of beauty in our society, as that has always been in flux, but rather, and more fundamentally, the expectation that women must conform to these ideals to a degree that men must not, and most importantly, that a woman’s worth is commonly assessed and defined by her ability to do so. Blech.

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