The Vagenda

Some Real Women Don’t Have Curves: A Meditation on Arses

I can’t stop thinking about arses. I feel like I’m being bombarded with them, like I’m in some kind of bouncy bottom hail storm. I see Nicki Minaj’s thong when I close my eyes at night, and I could identify Iggy Azalea’s ‘area’ from a mile away, as if it were a voluptuous lighthouse. Part of this stems from the fact that I’ve had this song stuck in my head for days now. You know the one; it’s insanely catchy, goes on about ‘I’m all about that bass, no treble’. It goes on about how curvy is right and slim is wrong. This one:

I have to hand it to the girl, it’s a tune, but the lyrics are more than a little dubious. Meghan, love, calling girls ‘skinny bitches’ is not OK, even if you add ‘nah just playin‘ afterwards. I’m probably the type Mehgan thinks is a skinny bitch; I’m so repulsive because I don’t have ‘all the right curves in all the right places’. Because according to Meghan, bigger is better and smaller is…well, shit. She reckons boys don’t fancy skinny girls, and seems to be sending out the message that body image should be governed by what men find attractive, rather than what women think about their own bodies. Her video has been all over social media like syphillis, with comments like ‘yeah you go sister! Real women have curves x’ underneath. I can see what Meghan was trying to do with this video; to say that being a bigger girl is OK, and of course it is. It’s beautiful. Boobs, bums, hips, tummies; they are gorgeous whatever size they are. But that doesn’t have to mean that being smaller is wrong in some way. She’s gone for a body confidence theme, but she’s actually dissing a whole demographic of women.


This ‘real women have curves’ thing maybe comes from a good place, and I get that the media bombards us with images of very slim women, and that needs to be counteracted with something to show that Kate Moss is not representative of all body types. But I’m not very curvy; does that mean I’m not a real woman?! Because my boobs are small, will I disappear? Will I pull a Derren Brown and vanish in a puff of smoke, onto to reappear on top of Big Ben in a cravat? Because I have the much lauded ‘thigh gap’, does that suddenly turn me into something completely plastic and sexless, like a spatula?

My body type is what is commonly known as ‘skinny fat’.

‘Skinny-fat‘: When someone is thin and looks great in clothes, but is all flabby underneath

(Via Urban Dictionary)

I’m slim in general, but after a big meal I will have a pot belly so large that I can balance stuff on it. My parents call me Olive Oyl, and more than once I have been referred to as Colin from the Secret Garden, on account of my deathly pallor and lack of upper body strength. I have always been this way, it is just the way my body is. It’s true that I don’t eat a MacDonalds every day, but I eat more than enough, and have plenty of snacks. I am healthy, and my body shape is no less real than Meghan’s. BOTH ARE OK!

work it

As for her protestations that her mama says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”. Well Meghan’s mum, guess what? Some do, some don’t. Men like all sorts. Big arses, small arses, tall, short, girls with missing teeth, girls with great teeth, girls who state that Carrie from Sex and the City is their ‘role model’, death metallers. Their tastes are diverse and wide-ranging. As Jason Biggs’ wife put it the other day, there is a whole FILM FRANCHISE based on the idea of a man having sex with a pie. I have known men who fancy cartoon characters, or the woman on an incontinence pad advert. But more importantly, Meghan’smum, you’re saying that women, girls, should be OK with their bodies because it’s what men like. Not because it works; it walks and runs and breathes, it makes babies and gives hugs. That, size 16 or size 6, you should love your body because it’s YOURS. Taking a cheap shot at women who’ve had plastic surgery is also unnecessary. A body with silicone is no less right than a body without. Maybe some women don’t love their bodies, and change them so that they do; who are you, Meghan, to judge that?

I was whining to my mum about this; she said ‘isn’t it just a bit of fun?’, and she may have a point. This, however, is not just a bit of fun:

That is Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea presenting themselves as nothing more than a pair of big arses with ponytails. They writhe around, twerk, lick each other a bit, and at one point J-Lo bends over so far I can almost see up her birth canal. Iggy Azalea looks dead behind the eyes; it seems even she knows that rapping ‘She got a booty, that’ll swallow a thong/And if you do it better do it dirty all night long’ makes her look like a bellend. So in this video we are being told that basically, having a big arse makes you good at shagging. Someone needs to call up the geneticists at Oxford university to give them this VITAL PIECE OF INFORMATION. This discovery means that Cosmopolitan’s sex tips are completely redundant; all you need to do is squat and you’ll turn into a sexy ‘big booty’ jizz-receptacle.

The worst line, in maybe any song ever, comes when they are bleating on about letting a man come up to you in a club and grind his 10-beer semi against your leg, because you’re sexy. Sexy chicks let a man do that instead of, you know, having fun with their friends or going home happily to eat their chips in front of QVC. Then we get told ‘It’s his birthday, give him what he ask for’. Are you freaking KIDDING me J-Lo? Did you think that the lyrics in Blurred Lines went down well or have you been living in a glittery bubble for the past year? Apparently so, or else women wouldn’t be getting told to put out just because it’s a drunk stranger’s birthday. You might think that the reasons for having sex with someone is because you like them, you fancy them and trust them- but you’d be wrong. You should have sex with someone because a) you have a big arse and b) it’s their birthday.


So we’ve got Meghan telling us men like big butts and that’s all that matters, and J-Lo and Iggy telling us the same thing, while illustrating it beautifully by grinding their bald crotches into each other’s faces. My bum isn’t even that small, but now I’m being told I’m not sexy or ‘real’ unless I put on weight; but purely in the tit and arse area…how would that work? It’d go straight onto the lesser known sexy areas, gut and jowls. I suppose I could pad it out with balloons, or strap a couple of watermelons to my pants. Or I could just be happy with what I’ve got. Meghan, J-Lo and Iggy: we’ve all got enough body stress going on. So called ‘fat-shaming’ is real, and it’s shitty, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK in reverse. Curves or no curves, we are all real women; let’s give each other a break.

- Lucy Bellerby

32 thoughts on “Some Real Women Don’t Have Curves: A Meditation on Arses

  1. absolutely, seriously loveeeeeee thiss! but on a serious note, we get slut shamed, fat shamed, skinny shamed, prude shamed, we can do nothing right!

  2. I applaud you. Let’s just give each other a break. Women come in all sizes, and you know what? They are all great!

    Also, watching that J-Lo and Iggy video made me feel really uncomfortable.

  3. LOVE this (Major points added for Drag Race GIF, Obvs)

    I’m a self defined (and society defined) ‘Curvy’ girl, Size 14 and all pin up and 50′s tea dresses. So really, shouldn’t I be on board with this? But every time someone patronizingly explains they just ‘love’ curvy girls it just boils my piss.
    No to fat shaming, no to skinny shaming – You got it bang on.

  4. On the one hand, intellectually, I completely agree with you.
    On the other…. I first watched the Meghan Trainor song whilst I was getting my decidedly wobbly body changed into my pyjamas and I felt quite good about myself for the first time in ages. I usually cannot stand to see myself naked or be seen, but listening to this tune I had a bit of a half dressed dance around. So yeah, it’s not right & not at all helpful to the feminist cause; but when 99.9% of the images I see daily tell me my thighs, hips and belly are completely and utterly unacceptable (despite being well within healthy BMI etc) forgive me for enjoying it a teeny bit.

  5. ps I’ve read a few articles in retaliation to this video, about how not all women have curves etc. I guess it reminds me a little of the “not all men” argument in that I feel that my initial elation at finding an extremely rare positive affirmation of my body type is swiftly dismissed because oh yes, you’re right, not all women have curves.

  6. “letting a man come up to you in a club and grind his 10-beer semi against your leg, because you’re sexy” – actually spat my nutella covered rice cake out on my work computer when I read this. SO funny!!!

  7. amazing article!!! and thanks for giving me a name for my size/shape: skinny-fat!
    I hate all the shit in the media about how men love curves and only real women have curves. because I’m a size 8 does that make me a fake woman or an invisible woman? no, and whether I care or not my boyfriend loves my size, sorry iggy!

  8. I just try to stay away from body snark in general, because quite a lot of people just don’t get much of a say in what their bodies look like. I’m currently 40 pounds over where I “should” be, and it’s a struggle to be okay with that. But at least I am “girl-shaped,” with an hourglass figure, and I can carry the weight better than some others because I’m muscle underneath. And that’s just luck. I did nothing to actually earn any of that myself.

    But too many women take our insecurities about ourselves and lash out at the women who make us feel worse. Skinny ladies who have actual gaps in their thighs and flat stomachs make me feel like Shamu; therefore they are too thin and look like adolescent boys and what guy wants that? When really, that’s just destructive, leveling thinking and it does nobody any good. But it’s somehow easier than trying to build myself up. And I’m sure it goes both ways. We should really learn to be kinder to each other, because as women we’re usually more than cruel enough to ourselves in our own heads. We don’t need the voices of others adding to it.

  9. Thanks for this. Like, seriously, thank you very much. I’ve been ashamed of my body for a long time because I’m very thin and I’ve got quite a boyish/androginous figure. I got bullied for this, I got asked/told that I had to be anorexic to be in such a shape, and so on.
    I like my body now, but I still feel that I will always look ugly with certain dresses, and so on.
    So whenever I see this stuff, like the “real women have curves” “no man wants a stick” and so on, I can’t avoid a facepalm.
    We were supposed to go from “fat people are gross” to “let’s not body shame anyone”, not from “fat people are gross” to “thin people are gross”. This solves no problem whatsoever.

  10. So, I love parts of this article, but I have to push back a bit here against what you are interpreting Meghan Trainor as saying.

    Yeah, you are 100% correct that calling people “skinny bitches” ain’t okay. That line def makes me uncomfortable. But that line about how Trainor’s mama says that boys like curvy women in bed next to them? That line, *in context*, made me HAPPY, and here’s why.

    I’m a chunky woman and I was absolutely a chunky kid. My mom’s the same way, and you know what? We’re damn sexy. So when as a kid I was being absolutely torn up inside by the way I look, my mom was there for me to help me learn to get the fuck over myself and what people were telling me I should look like and realize that I’m just perfect the way I am. She pretty much said exactly the same thing. Granted, she said “some people” instead of boys cuz we’re inclusive like that, and Trainor probs coulda saved herself some shit by just adding in a “some” at the beginning of the line. But I still resonated with what Trainor is saying, and I’m sorry, you’re wrong in critiquing her this way because of literally the next two lines in the song.

    The thing that bugged me most about this article is that that problematic line about booty-holdin’ is followed up by Trainor saying that *she* doesn’t look like a barbie doll, and that if the male viewer is interested in that look he’s free to “move along,” because she isn’t interested. How is that not saying that some men like something, some men like another, but she’s only interested PERSONALLY in men who find her attractive the way she is? Because I’m sorry, that is empowering as all hell.

    She has two lines in this song that maybe – maybe – could be construed as skinny shaming, and one line that absolutely is. And that means that we jump all over it for its flaws. I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to put up with that. Every single time there’s a song released about how its okay to look NOT like a supermodel, I get very well-meaning women telling me that, no, its actually not okay because it makes skinny women feel bad. But you know what? All of us *already* feel bad, and a song about how its fun to be curvy or chunky shouldn’t do that. Trainor also says that women are perfect, every inch, “from the bottom to the top,” no matter what they look like.

    So no, Trainor and Azalea are NOT telling us the same thing. One is clearly an attempt at an athem for the myriad of women out there who don’t fit the Kate-Moss-mold, and the other is gratuitous tits and ass with an extra helping of ass and objectification on the side. Frankly, the fact that this author is equating those two things really frustrates me as that is ONLY reinforcing really fucked up views of what it means to be chunky or big-booty’d or whatever you wanna call it.

  11. I think there’s always going to be thin ice on this kind of issue. On the one hand, women come in all shapes and sizes and we should embrace and love them all (which the vast majority of us do). On the other hand, the media is CONSTANTLY drumming into us this idea that skinny = better, whether it’s when you flick through a newspaper, a magazine, watch a blockbuster, watch Game of Thrones, or just damn leave the house… it can be tiring.

    With that in mind, I can see why women who don’t fit this tiny mould want to rebel openly and publicly. Particularly when you hear statistics about teenage girls starving themselves to look like the aforementioned skinny girls. It incites anger in people, because it is so often idealised when the majority of women (maybe not the vast majority, but a majority, I suspect) will never naturally look like that. Of course, this then backfires for the women who do naturally look like that – as your article is saying – but I can still see the intent. I don’t think these women are skinny-shaming other women (not intentionally, I think – I haven’t heard much of that song so I can’t speak for the ‘skinny bitches’ lyrics, or the similar phrasing in Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda), rather they are rebelling against the cultural trend that they have to be thin to have any kind of self-worth.

    I myself am fairly average-sized, I’d say (5 ft. 5, size 10-12). Years and years ago I remember reading an interview with Kimberley Walsh in Cosmo about how women should embrace their curves, because skinny wasn’t always sexy. This could be seen as empowering, but what bothered me about this was that Walsh had the PERFECT body – ‘curves in all the right places’, as they say. It’s easy to preach about curviness and embracing your natural body when you happen to have a rockin’ hourglass figure. For someone like me, with small hips and a large waist (it’s where I carry all my weight), I felt even more hideous – even if I didn’t fit the skinny image that these curvy role models spoke out against. There’s always something to bemoan. It drove me mad.

    One day we will have a society that loves every natural figure as it is! Because that’s all we need in the end. Skinny, curvy, fat, thin – just do your thing. Do it for yourself. And we are getting closer to that day, I know it.

  12. I understand what you mean, but I think you’re missing the point of the article. The author doesn’t have anything against a song that promotes body positivity for bigger girls, the problem is when it comes at the expenses of other people (in this case, skinny girls). Any form of body shaming is bad.
    Also, as I pointed out before, skinny doesn’t equal supermodel. Just like there are tons of different ways you can be bigger (depening on your height, size, bone structure, etc), the same applies to thin people. Here’s a simple comparison: my sister is more than 10 years older than me, but I am taller, and she has a small body frame (and she has a hard time finding clothing that fits her, more than once she had to resort to the kids section of stores). I am younger than my sister, yet I am taller and I’ve bigger breasts.
    Every person has a different body and equating skinny people to supermodels is highly misleading. (Because most of the times girls in magazines are so photoshopped that nobody, not even the actual person, looks like them).

  13. I have to say I agree with this comment wholeheartedly. I would fit into the ‘skinny’ end of the spectrum without all the right curves, but I didn’t really feel this song was particularly offensive to me. Whilst I fully understand the need to question the underlying issue of trying to define women primarily by their looks – whether thin or ‘real’ or whatever – this song comes across as extremely light-hearted and positive and because of this, it just feels a little unnecessary to gear up my feminist rage for it (which can’t be said of the J-Lo/Iggy Azalea one – seriously, what is that?!).

  14. Great article, excellent gif!

    It’s irritating that there is market for songs about women’s bodies at all, but the Meghan video / song seems to make at least some sense as a response to a culture of fat-shaming.

    However, calling out hypothetical enemies in “skinny-bitches” is unhelpful (and “just playing” is like “just sayin” and means the opposite).

    Encouraged or prescribed hostitilty between women is always depressing, with the trend of “my curves are bigger then yours and therefore many more men will want to rub up against them” songs a huge contibutor to this, surely….

  15. The message is surely, love what you have. Not love what you have because Meghan Trainor and her mum say so. Or men. Or the media.

  16. I see both your interpretation and the writer’s. I can only conclude that Trainor contradicts herself. In a VERY catchy way.

  17. Watermelon pants is a really good tip! I’m gonna try that one. I have curves seemingly everywhere, but not on my bum. What does this mean for me? I’m in realwoman purgatory. Half human half spatula. What a fate.

  18. As a healthcare professional, I think there is another point everyone is missing here…
    ‘my momma told me don’t worry about your size’
    Has her mother not heard that being overweight increases the risk of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and cancer? Being underweight is accociated with health problems too, but obesity is causing a huge amount more problems at the moment and should we be encouraging it?

    Weight is not just a looks issue. The implications for health are much bigger. In our image obessed society I think most people forget this.

  19. This is awesome.

    My blood was starting to boil over all this, as Nicki Minaj would say, ‘fuck you if you skinny bitches’ malarkey. Just imagine reversing the lyrics, ‘fuck you if you fat bitches’ – really really not ok is it.

  20. Yes I hate this too. Really hate that’s it’s ok to skinny bash but if you dare call someone (namely, women) than watch out, it’s like the 2nd coming of the apocalypse, like someone has pointed out the elephant in the room, all hushed silences, side eyes, “she just said what?” Yes, called someone fat, like people call people a “skinny bitch” all the time without repercussion.

    I’m skinny-fat too. In essence quite slim (thanks to genetics and a high metabolism) but not toned and physically weak. I have a pudgy stomach but if I was to mention this out loud would get eye rolls up the wazoo.

    I think a lot of this is to do with the fact that in modern western society a slim body is considered the ideal body type for women, so if you are skinny, people lump you in this “privileged” category where you’re fair game for insults because you know, what have you got to complain about you’re “just another skinny bitch” you’re at the top blah blah blah. And then there’s also the gender stereotype of woman = soft, curvy, feminine, pretty etc so anything OTHER than this = basically a transgression to her gender aka. “what is she trying to be, a man?!”

    Ugh. Women are damned if they do, damned if they don’t either way.

  21. Fat or thin I think we can agree that we shouldn’t be basing our appraisal of our bodies on whether men want to rub their semis on us for their birthdays.

  22. Jesus H Christ, that Jlo video is the most horrendous thing I have ever seen! It appears to be suggesting that you must simply look sexually available for a man – especially if it is his birthday! And what is with the pseudo-lesbianism!!? Surely just there to make the video sexually appealing to men? Great message there! I have a five month old daughter and I dread to think what music vids will be pumping her head full of in the future!

  23. I really like your comment, especially the acknowledgment of eating disorders, and I also think its worth noting that so many girls feel a connection to this song because, even if they aren’t “overweight,” they still feel fat. So even women who might fall into Meghan’s “skinny bitch” category can relate to this song because they’ve never seen themselves as skinny, which I think attributes greatly to its success.

  24. Can I just say how much I agree with this? I’m so sick of women saying “Real women have curves.”, because guess what? I’m straight up and down; I’m built like a little boy, but it doesn’t make me less of a woman. What’s more important than curves or none is that we’re healthy.

  25. EVERYONE skinny or fat has issues with their body but I promise, on average, fat women have it harder. Its a lovely idea to think everyone’s unique and is beautiful the way they are but without a doubt there is a physique all women are ‘supposed’ to be aiming for. Personally I feel my slim/average friends are more confident and, in being so, socialise more, are more confident job searching, and generally do things I would do if I felt less ridiculous walking around in public. Unless you look like a skeleton, slim is what the world GENERALLY wants. MEN and WOMEN like slim. Bigger girls hate on skinny girls because we are jealous (most of the time) but let us off once please, you’re still no.1!!!!! No matter how much we ‘love’ Nicki Minaj, Iggy or J-Lo, slim arses and that cute thigh gap thing will always get the most love. Again, I just want to say, everyone has insecurities, and feel I’m only able to say slim people are more confident (again very generally) because I haven’t always been overweight. Didn’t mean to offend anyone if I have – but I feel I’m under pressure to look like one thing and that definitely isn’t curvy.

  26. Amen! The other day I was told that I needed to fill out in order to gain a greater sexual more womanly energy and be seen as more of a woman and henceforth, more beautiful and attractive to real men who wanted a real women. Apparently this means that real women are me– 10 lbs heavier and more filled in. Instead of a real woman being me NOW maybe even a bit lighter but most importantly confident and happy with myself and my body. Shouldn’t that be the goal? To be happy and love our bodies and not constantly be told that in order to have a more sexual energy and be more of a woman we need to physically “fill in”? I’m sorry. But I don’t need to fill in and I felt like if I did so to speak fill in and gain weight I would only lose a lot of confidence because I’d be changing my body to fit some body elses ideals and not my own. How will being heavier increase my confidence or make me love myself more? For crying out loud I can sure as hell act and feel filled in and more womanly at 105 lbs than I can at 115lbs. Let’s all try to just love ourselves and be confident in our bodies because honey that’s hard enough.