Life » Culture

Fiz 11.02.05

Real women have thighs

And butts, and breasts, and stomachs. And hearts and lungs and kidneys, too. All the parts are usually there, really, for any woman who wants to lay claim to the "human, female" label.

So why, exactly, are variations on the "real women have curves" statement so revolutionary? Lumps and bumps and junk in the trunk? Shocking! Obscene! You're supposed to hide those things with easy fits and vertical stripes!

Anyone who's even walked by a supermarket checkout line or a movie theater knows what this is about. Our women celebrities form their own bizarre upper class, where the inhabitants are wildly rich and dressed in the foliage of couture but still starving. And our hospitals have their own wards dedicated to the girls and women (and boys and men) trying to follow suit and rid themselves of flesh.

OK. So some wise people decided there was money in this. Real Women Marketing. Talk to the majority. The size tens and twelves. The pear and apple shapes. Show them that they, too, can look good in underwear. They, too, can work out. They, too, can buy body lotion. Make them feel good, not terrible, about themselves and perhaps they will loosen their hold on the purse strings. Cha-ching.

Dove did it. You saw their summer "campaign for real beauty" featuring real women --- the stress is on their actual-ness, as if models are aliens or sculptures --- in their white undies showing off their rounded bods in billboards and in magazines to sell (ironically enough) firming lotion. And this is so shocking, so incredibly bold, that these women were wooed by the talk-show circuit, where hosts got choked up applauding their bravery. Rushed into a burning house to save a child? No: Peeled off your sweater set to show the world you need a bra with extra support. That's how scary protruding parts have become, folks.

Now there's Nike Women. This is a hoot. Go to the site ( and, to the tune of a racy little club beat, you can shop with your personal stylist, work out with your personal trainer, or check out what kind of "story your body tells." Click on "thighs" and see a video clip of a woman whose brother used to call her "thunder thighs" but now, thanks to spinning class, she has thighs that could probably open a jar of peanut butter. From there you can "shop for thighs" and pick out some great fitness dance pants or cute little running shorts. Just like the Dove women seem to have remarkably firm and smooth skin, all these Nike women seem to be in crazy shape. Quarters would bounce. But they're not size 2, and they're actually talking about their (enviable, impressive) flesh. Slapping it, shaking it, bragging about it. How refreshing.

So you go, real women. Thanks for jumping in the media pool. Just promise me this: Now that you're famous, don't go losing weight to look better on TV.

--- Erica Curtis

Joe Camel

Joe Camel was killed by consumer activism. Or politics, or something, but in any event, after it was ascertained by pollsters that kids recognized the cigarette mascot more readily than they did Mickey Mouse or Jesus or some other accomplished figure, he was retired, and his image was banned.

So when I turned a corner of New York City's financial district's byzantine backwater of discount stores and cheap Chinese a few years later, it was a surprise to see him there on the awning of a bodega. He looked rather smug, of course, being in open defiance of the law, but then, that's the way they drew him. And, it seemed, the lawmakers were right. A little kid stood still in his tracks, just like me, stunned with the surprise of recognition. A faint look of awe was on his face. He mouthed the name silently, as if in worship: "Joe Camel..."

But Joe Camel was dead.

--- Andy Davis