Do ALL Real Women Have Curves?

by Frugivore

The New York Magazine article “Every Single Woman in America is now ‘Curvy’” has instantly become the talk of the town addressing how the term curvy came about in describing the gamut of women’s bodies from a size 0 to an 18+.

“By democratizing and then celebrating “curvy,” it makes us feel good about ourselves. It means we’re open-minded. Forward-thinking. Because we’re so brave to praise a body that defies Hollywood standards,” asserts writer Lauren Bans.

Like Bans and others taking their turn at voicing their opinion on the curve-calling bandwagon, I’m not buying it, and neither should you. The reality is that our society is using the word as a cop out for addressing perhaps unhealthy lifestyle choices and dismissing the conversations on true body acceptance and responsibility.

What we’re advocating in our attempt to be politically correct when it comes to judging the female figure is completely doing a disservice to not only ourselves but the young women who swallow and chew the trends and rhetoric displayed to them by the media and society. We’re teaching young women as well as ourselves that “curvy” is acceptable albeit those curves may be accompanied by love handles, diabetes and lack of exercise.

Ty Alexander, associate editor at HelloBeautiful writes: “This problem is most visible in celebrity fashion. To be polite or politically correct some would describe both Lala Anthony and Gabourey Sidibe as curvy. I’m gonna throw out my red flag on this play. Grouping two completely contrasting body types is just an example that supports my theory that America is in denial. If we’re set out to really teach young girls about body acceptance, is it not counterproductive to allow them to think that, dare I say it, fat is curvy?”

Black women, in my opinion, have it the worst. Interchangeably, the words curvy and thick have been used to describe our bodies from the dawn of the first rap video. If you’re too skinny the boys won’t like you and the girls will tease you. And don’t have the nerve to be one of the many black women (including myself) without a voluptuous backside. Our culture will be out for blood — hence the butt injection trend that’s left many black women with abnormally rotund derrières (think Nicki Minaj) at the risk of imparting irreversible consequences on themselves.

I agree that our bodies as black women bodies have consistently been at war with society. We’ve been scrutinized, ridiculed and criticized compared to the “others” who’ve taken our most prized au natural features and bought them at the plastic surgeons office. Case in point, the recent “prank” performed by Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki who in all “fun” mimicked Serena Williams (whom I would rightly call curvy) was just another round of shaming the curvy black woman despite Williams’ incredibly toned and tight figure.

Williams’ curves, however, don’t apply to everyone. Celebrities we once lauded for their plus-sized appearance on the red carpet like Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Raven Simone, and Janet Jackson traded in their “curves” for fitness and nutrition routines that rewarded them with a svelte figure we fawn over.

There’s a fine line between curves and fat. No matter how pop culture tries to package the term to make each of us feel “one,” it is plainly absurd and irresponsible for us to keep quiet, crossing our arms in complicity.

  • Sasha

    I agree 100% with this piece. Curvy =/= fat, overweight, obese, lumpy. This message, that all women have curves, does a great disservice to women for many reasons. One because it’s another divisive tactic when it comes to the body image of women and putting various shapes into the what’s more desibrable box. Speaking of “the Box”, many people fail to connect that these images we are receiving are photoshopped so this illusion of the curvy women pushed by the media is one to be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly though, my womanhood is not defined by the curves on my body or lack thereof. I am tall and shaped like a boy with a very narrow waist, medium-ish boobs and “no ass”. Does that make me any less of a woman, the fact that I’m not shaped like Tocarra or Beyonce? I think not and know for a fact that’s not the case. When it comes to one health this message is also a smokescreen. Gabby Sidibe is not curvy, she is obese. This is the case of most women who call themselves curvy. It’s a lot easier to keep one’s head in the sand by accusing people of fat shaming or push the fat acceptance movement but at the end of the day it’s yourself you’ve got to face in the mirror and whether you choose to deny or accept that there is a problem is on you.

  • Anthony

    I say relax. Curvy is positive because constantly stressing over losing weight is not healthy either. Avoid bad food, have a sensible excercise routine, and accept your body. I know for a fact that confidence is healthy and attractive.

  • Afrostyling

    Why is Gabourey the sole black woman on that article? Gabourey is Obese, not curvy.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    sisters need to delink their self esteem from their physical appearance……

  • Brit N. Craig

    I hate that saying: real women have curves. Last time I checked a human being is in existence, which makes them real and if that human being is born with a vagina, that makes that human being a female: who will grow into a woman. Why insinuate a woman is less of a woman because she is less curvy?

    I also hate when skinny women act like they’re the finest things on the planet and they’re God’s gift to men. What happened to being healthy? What happened to being so secure in yourself that you don’t have to bash or look down on someone else to feel better about who you are?

    Women are picked apart in some the worst ways and we do it to ourselves and each other.

  • __A

    I’m not even surprised. Of course they do this on purpose. Black women are known for being curvy. Instead of using Beyonce or Jennifer Hudson, they chose an obese black woman. It’s mainstream America’s thing. Didn’t they have a Vogue cover with a bunch of thin white women and then Gabourey? People think that’s progress. They’re so naive. That’s America jumping at the chance to show us as undesirable and fat. A 21st century mammy. And black women are proud that we’re always the face of fat acceptance. It’s crazy.

    It’s like since some black women go around talking about how black women are naturally fat, we’re the go to women when they need to find a fat woman. I’m blown away by how many black women don’t see this as them trying to portray us as undesirable and inferior to other women. They actually embrace being the face of fat acceptance.

  • Clutch

    Hi Ladies –

    The reason Gabby is pictured is because she is discussed in the article. Not for any other reason than that :)

  • __A

    That’s easier said than done. From a young age, girls are told to value their appearance and to work on it and enhance it. From a young age they see the importance of beauty. It is not that easy to just say, I’m going to delink my self esteem from my appearance.

    We live in a world where women are told that they are supposed to get a man. They’re a loser if they don’t have a husband and kids by a certain age. And beauty is one of the biggest in my opinion, the biggest and most important thing men value in women.

  • Ooh La La

    On the other side of the fence, as a black woman I’m tired of being told that I’m less of a woman for being thin. The real problem is everyone trying to dictate what makes a “real” woman. An adult female human being – nothing more, nothing less. Stop trying to alienate one to make the other feel accepted. There’s no need to put down anyone else. The sooner we can celebrate all shapes, heights, and sizes, the better off we’ll all be.

  • __A

    @Clutch – Yes, but New York Magazine chose all these other women who are thin and curvy. The largest was Christina Hendricks who is a 14. Many men consider her well endowed and not overweight. The rest of those women were smaller than a size 10. So it’s a bunch of small and average sized non-black women. A well endowed white woman, and an obese black woman.

    Sorry, I just saw Melissa McCarthy. But it doesn’t matter because NY Magazine has already mentioned so many white women that are not overweight. It doesn’t matter if there is one obese white woman when the rest of them are considered desirable, but then the sole black woman is obese. I just always catch the mainstream media or Hollywood doing this. On Glee, on Parks and Rec, on Grey’s Anatomy. It’s everywhere. They do it on purpose.

  • EST. 1986

    There are just going to be times where a man needs to not speak on women’s issues.

  • Clutch

    thanks for explaining!

  • D.T.

    I think curvy is about shape more than anything. A woman can be 5’3 115 lbs and curvy. It’s about breast, waist and hip proportions. I’ve seen women that weigh 180+ whose shapes are not considered curvy because they have small breasts and high waist to hip ratios.

    A lot of women like to brag about their large posteriors however many of them have big bellies and flabby arms with huge chunks of meat above their elbows.

    Curvy (along with thick) is another one of those words used to coddle big women rather than just telling them the truth.

  • D.T.

    What’s wrong with feeling good about how you look? More people should take pride in their appearances. That’s the equivalent to saying men need to delink self esteem from being powerful and successful. How great would you feel about yourself (in this country and society) being jobless with no money?

  • Sigh

    Sadly, I think it’s accepted because the majority of our sisters are overweight.

  • MissRae

    That’s why I don’t get how some people are shock to see someone like myself who has a slender body type but has nice shape. Not all skinny women have boy shapes.

  • Sigh

    To take it one point further, I don’t give a damn what a man who posts on a WOMAN’s blog has to say. A positive male or a troll male still screams I don’t respect boundaries and will insert my penis anywhere I see fit. It’s so disrespectful.

  • Afrostyling

    And im glad you removed that half naked picture. I dont understand why you would post a picture of Tocarra naked in a bathtub knowing some folks might not want to see all that when browsing/reading. I didn’t come here for soft porn.

  • nona

    I am a fit black woman, and I am usually described as “thin” but sometimes men call me “curvy” because I have hips and they’re trying to make me feel good I guess, lol. But I have no butt, small boobs, my boyfriend often teases me that my bones are only covered by “skin and muscle.” And you know what? All of that is OK.

    However, I do love this article. The word “curvy” has about 20 different meanings now, and everyone will tell you there’s is correct. Scarlet Johannsson, Sara Ramirez, Monique, Halle Berry could all probably be called “curvy” based on someone’s definition. I think the problem is that many people now view the word curvy as “a polite way of calling someone fat” which opens up a whole ‘nother can on semantics. Next the debate will move to “voluptuous.”

  • seriously?

    Its mainstream way of trying to celebrate “all body types” not a way to equate healthy body types.
    And like a lot of stuff that goes thru mainstream media gets overuse, wring out and the message change.
    Fat people knows they’re fat, morbidly obese people KNOW they are morbidly obese. Rather they begin to choose to become healthy or already on their journey they too get tired of the constant dissecting and the screaming reality that there weight is bringing diseases onto them. We can’t scream to work on themselves and their mentality is shot. By getting them to love who they are now they will be able to love themselves healthy, without fear of having to stop living because they are not quite there yet.

    Granted I get it because the message is becoming overuse they are some whose getting stuck thinking the size they are is okay. But it’s not the lot, just seems like it.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    yes, we are ‘told’ many things. a lot of it is garbage.
    maturity is getting rid of the junk and programming your own mind according to a set of values that are based in black. it’s not as hard as you may think.

  • nona

    That’s going go over his head. I like some of the points–many of the points, jamesfrmphilly makes–but sometimes it infuriates me how he feels he has every right to speak over women on this blog.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    nothing wrong with feeling good about how you look.
    what is wrong is letting your looks DETERMINE how good you feel. feel me?

  • Anonymous

    Can we stop peddling the notion that small is automatically healthy and fat is automatically unhealthy? I am larger. I have low blood pressure, normal blood sugar levels, low cholesterol, etc. I eat healthful and work out four times a week. A lot of my smaller sistafriends are riddled with “fat-associated” diseases: Diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. By feeding into the notion that every fat woman wants to be thin and every thin woman needs curves, we are denying all women the agency to be comfortable with their bodies.

  • apple

    all real women have vaginas.. how about them apples. some people are curvy and some or not .. sometimes you just dont have control over it ..

  • Est. 1986

    James, your comments just show how little you understand life for women.

  • EMMA


  • binks

    I agree with the article because I think “curvy” is becoming a buzz word that is often used incorrectly! Granted not all “curves” are created equal but curvy refers to an overall shape and proportions not size/weight per se. So yes, you can be skinny/slim and curvy just like you can be “big” and curvy. Curvy is NOT mutually exclusive to one body type just like being “ruler” shaped isn’t exclusive to one body type because you can be “ruler” shaped and skinny or plus size. I think people use buzz words like these because they don’t want to use “fat” or “obese” when that is more appropriate, hell even “plus size” is becoming a buzz word now and is misconstrued in definition. I know nobody wants to be mean and address the pink elephant in the room but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade and called fat and obesity just what it is being fat and obese but that doesn’t mean you have to be mean, condescending or nasty about it. But at the other extreme of this equation, I don’t think thinness should be epitome of beauty and the standard every woman should strive to look like and be to be consider worthy of praise and opportunties. It just feels like there is no happy medium in this debate on body wars. I never really cared for the “real woman…” slogans I just felt like it was divisive than helpful when it comes to women and self-esteem, every woman should be celebrated and considered “real” in their womanhood.

  • binks


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