Monday, June 11, 2012

Are Women Taught to Criticize Other Women?

The Internet can be a fabulous place for women to find other like-minded and like-shaped women with whom they can share their thoughts and experiences. It can also be a place where women tear each other to shreds because of their weight/shape/style etc. This woman-to-woman criticism is nothing new but that doesn't mean it's something we should tolerate.
The Lingerie Addict Has Implemented a Body Snark Free Policy that encourages people to be constructive not destructive in their comments.
Lots of my fellow lingerie bloggers have experienced someone leaving catty, unkind or downright hurtful comments about another woman's shape/style/weight. Many, like me, operate a zero tolerance policy where if you make a vile comment about someone else, you're banned. I don't see this as censorship, I see it as good manners (but then again I'm English so it's all about the manners). I think there is a big difference between stating an opinion and being derogatory. For example, a recent debate about breast enhancement garnered the opinion from one reader "breast enlargement would never be right for me" that's quite different from the brainless (and frankly pointless) comment "all women with implants are bimbos" from one massively unhelpful woman.

In context these images are legitimate responses to excessive Photoshop, Pro-Ana sites and over sexualization of large breasts.
Does Social Media Pit Women Against One-Another?
I think there is an inherent flaw in social media that reduces life to black and white statements with little or no context. For example, there was a flurry of images with the slogan "Real Women Have Curves" which was initially a backlash to the disproportionate number of 'heroin-chic' images that were prolific in the late 90s (a look that was compounded for its dangerous implications when Kate Moss neglectfully said "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels"). Very quickly there was a backlash to the 'Real Women' images saying 'All Women Are Real'.
This Vera Wang bridesmaid dress model has been severely photoshopped on the left. I don't consider this a 'Real Woman' this is a 'thinspirational' marketing tactic.
I don't think either of these statements can be taken without context. The Real Women have Curves wasn't originally a stab at thin women it was a response to curvy women being entirely ignored by the media. In recent times it has appeared again in response to the very unnaturally over-Photoshopped women we are exposed to in magazines. You don't get either of these contexts when you reduce the sentiment to one line. Women become isolated images or statements without complexity and context. It's up to the viewer to apply some commonsense and balance, something not everyone is capable of evidently so you end up with people who think it's perfectly OK to judge and slam someone based on their appearance.
This is as close as Social Media gets to dividing men!
I find it really interesting that we don't see endless montages full of muscle-bound men reading "Real Men Have Muscles" followed by another wave of montages full of skinny guys that say "All Men Are Real". It makes you wonder whether there's a divide and conquer attitude that keeps women in a permanent state of insecurity, chasing an impossible perfection.

Women are regularly pitted against each other in the media, almost for sport. Just think about 'The Real Housewives of...' series and you know what I mean. We aren't exposed to a whole lot of women supporting women regardless of their shape and size but we regularly see women trying to outdo each other in beauty or getting the man or winning the argument. If we're too busy slagging off someone else about their shape then we won't rise up and demand that the media portrays us with more dignity and diversity.

As busty women we are all too familiar with people stereotyping us based on the size of our breasts but we have a choice; either we can allow ourselves to be defined and feel bad about our bodies based on the ignorant and insecure comments of others, or we can choose to define ourselves and pity the people who have nothing better to do. xx


  1. If you're too busy worrying that your going to be criticized or if you're too busy criticize other women then you will be missing out your real life issues and the real problems of society. I think that Criticizing other has been around forever but it has reached new heights. Most teens and women don't know if their flaws are really flaws. Do other people have these flaws. What is normal or common about women. Plus women are comparing themselves to completely fake digital models now.

    1. I couldn't agree more COACG. It's the reason I like the term Real Women in some instances because so much of what we see is totally fabricated from skin to body shape and girls/women cannot continue to compare themselves to a mirage. Thank you for adding your thoughts xx