Are Skinny Women "Real Women" Too?

As most of you know, I post photos from the shop of people who visit in our threads, right? So yesterday I posted this photo on Facebook of our amazing, hard-working, talented, smart operations manager Jane Castle, who, in between doing a million vital tasks to keep us running, occasionally will model a piece or two that arrives.

Now I surely don't expect everyone to love every piece but one of the comments rocked me: a woman wrote saying "I am a size 7/8 and I don't see anything Real Woman about this photo." I know she didn't intend to be hurtful towards Jane, but words are powerful and women can be really brutal on other women.

So what is a real woman? This terms gets tossed around a lot and Co-founder Jade and I talk about it a ton given her work with women and body image via A Beautiful Body Project. Often people forget that we know all of the people in our photos, they are part of our growing community, they have families and friends and lives and hearts and sensitivities. So does being thin making them any less Real?

And often fuller-figured gals may not know that I have customers who are battling medical conditions and wish desperately that their bodies would put on enough weight to even crack 100 pounds! They are teased with side comments even from friends and famy about being tiny, and regularly told they look like a high-school student. Shopping for clothing can land them in the children's section.

So are they not Real Women?

Women can be really tough on other women even unconsciously? "Is she really wearing that dress?" "Did she gain some weight?" And the magazines and media that surround us don't help with headlines like " so-and-so failed to bounce back after having a baby."

At Fed By Threads I am aiming to change how we talk to each other and remind ourselves that our words have power. Jane in the photo above is as real as any woman. She breathes, she loves, she cares, she feels, she is sensitive, and dare I say, she has her own feelings of being self-conscious.

I remind myself often to be as thoughtful as possible because my 2.5 year old will copy how I talk about people. Let's teach that next generation of men and women that everyone is real whatever their body type. The only fakeness are the digitally augmented airbrushed images of people in magazines that don't even look like the real human who was hired for the shoot. And even that is changing.

Our words are powerful and all women are real. So if you hear friends crack jokes about someone not being a real woman, have the courage to call them out. At least in our side-by-side dressing rooms, I encourage women to celebrate each other. It may sound small but to me, it reminds us that we are all real.

Please share this with anyone you think would resonate with this story.

Thank you,

Alok Appadurai
Alok Appadurai


2 Responses


October 20, 2014

Thank you so much for this article. You’ve keyed in on one of the disturbing aspects of the body-positive movement – the tendency to assume that some bodies are more “real” than others, and that a woman who wears a size 0 is necessarily self-punishing, unhealthy, and judgmental. I’ve been very slender my whole life. I probably get more social benefits than I realize or appreciate, but I do get sick of hearing that I’m unfeminine or even non-human. Our bodies are the sum of so many factors: health, temperament, habit, personal history, heredity, and much more. Each one of us is on a journey, and we all deserve to be free of cruelty, snap judgements and projection.

Kate Lambertson
Kate Lambertson

October 08, 2014

I really appreciate this article! As a person who struggles with celiac disease a good day for me is weighing 100 lbs. I am a 52 year old professional who has been told I look like a child, a 12 year old boy, or the worst – the crypt keeper! Words hurt and all people should realize we are beautiful and real no matter what our size!

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