Reality Check

real women
Do real women have children? Do real women have C cups and above? Do real women have loads of life experience under their belts? Do real women have curves? Do real women have undyed hair? Do real women work for a paycheck? Do real women have sass? Do real women let their armpit hair grow long?

Yes. Yes.
All this and more.

Real women have children, real women cannot have children, real women choose not to have children, real women will have children someday, real women are unsure about having children, real women have grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Real women have tiny boobs, real women have giant boobs, real women have medium-sized boobs, real women have one boob that is WAAAAY bigger than the other, real women have had to have their boobs surgically removed, real women have had their boobs augmented or reduced, real women haven’t quite finished growing their boobs yet.

Real women have traveled the world, real women are yet to explore beyond their hometowns, real women have never been kissed, real women are trying to figure out who they are, real women are happy right where they are, real women will never be satisfied.

Real women have curves, real women are curve-free, real women look like Jessica Rabbit and like Olive Oyl, real women carry their weight up high and down low, real women wish they could carry more weight, real women have tiny waists and no waists, real women are infinite in geometry and configuration.

Real women have always had the same hair color, real women hate their natural hair color and haven’t seen it in decades, real women prefer to change their hair color about once a week, real women get tri-color highlights at the salon,Β real women do their own highlights, real women are covering their grays, real women are salt-and-pepper, real women are all gray and all white, real women have just done “the big chop” and can’t wait to grow back in, real women relax their hair regularly, real women adore their wig collections, real women wear hats their friends have knitted for them because the hair is all gone.

Real women work their asses off for a paycheck, real women are still in school and haven’t gotten a job yet, real women work their asses off raising kids, real women are spending some time traveling before settling down to a job, real women have enough money that they don’t have to work for a paycheck, real women work and wish they didn’t have to.

Real women are full to the brim with sass, real women are so shy they can’t look a waitress in the eye, real women can give speeches to crowds of thousands, real women would prefer to stay home and read than go out clubbing, real women talk a lot but feel misunderstood and a little awkward most of the time, real women can salsa dance with total strangers, real women are learning to smile when people flirt with them.

Real women let their armpit hair grow long, real women shave every day, real women wax and use Nair and get laser hair removal, real women feel more womanly when they let their body hair be, just as it is, real women feel more womanly when they are as body-hairless as possible.

Real women wear full makeup to the gym and real women have no idea how to apply mascara. Real women have above average BMIs and real women are finally learning to eat again. Real women have sex with men, or with other women, or with both, or with people who don’t fit into a gender binary, or not at all, or aren’t ready for sex yet, or don’t want sex anymore. Real women have skin that is pale and rich dark brown and coffee-colored and spotty and smooth and tattooed and pierced and everything in-between. Real women dedicate their lives to eradicating hunger on a global scale, and real women rely on an accumulation of small actions to change their local communities from the inside out. Real women talk too loud in bars and real women don’t drink alcohol. Real women have parents who toiled for every penny and real women come from a long line of family wealth. Real women are pious and atheistic and unsure and still exploring. Real women are tall and short and fat and thin. Real women are redheads and brunettes and blondes, real women have black hair and gray hair and turquoise hair – and real women ALL have fun, and gentlemen prefer us ALL. Real women have just had their first menstrual cycle and real women are long past menopause.

Real women come from everywhere and can be found everywhere.

Yes. Yes.
All this and more.

Never let anyone tell you that you are not a real woman. NEVER. Not even another woman who seems wiser or more worldly or prouder or louder or prettier or sexier or stronger than you. No one can take your realness from you.

No one except yourself.

And don’t you dare.

Image courtesy Christi Nielsen. Please take a look at her gorgeous “Ink” set, which she says is for an upcoming book project.

Originally posted 2009-06-01 06:02:00.

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93 Responses to “Reality Check”

  1. Michael McGraw Photography

    I like real women who are full to the brim with sass.

    I think I have one, too.

  2. Anonymous

    This is why your blog is so FABULOUS! Thanks for this post Sal – you’re the best.


  3. Melissa de la Fuente

    Oh…Sal. You are such a beautiful and wonderful woman. Thank you for this post, it is so very positive and beautiful. I adore you!
    ps thank you for letting me know about the link, that keeps happening to me and I am not quite sure why?
    Sorry about that hun! It is back! πŸ™‚

  4. La Belette Rouge

    What a gorgeous post. Send this to a magazine. Really beautiful.

  5. pretty face

    Aw at Husband Mike’s comment.

    Now this is what I call girl power.

  6. Mary

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Thank you!

  7. Kate Coveny Hood

    Oh – this brought tears to my eyes. So beautifully said. As usual.

  8. Cupcakes and Cashmere

    such great words to have in my head to start the week!

  9. Nadine

    Another great post: thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  10. The Raisin Girl

    I didn’t really know I needed to read this today, but I did. Thanks.

  11. jennine

    such a lovely post… it seems that real women are a bit of everything!

  12. lisa

    THANK YOU. This post could be a manifesto–inspiring stuff!

  13. pruney

    This is ace. I especially like the part about body hair. I get a lot of stick for not shaving my armpits/legs/bikini line. This (and my boyfriend’s adoration…) makes it all worth it.

    Thankyou for lending me and all the other real women who read this the opportunity for a little self appreciation πŸ™‚

  14. budget chic

    Excellent post! So true! It crazy how the media makes us feel like we should apologize for any of it – especially if their version of a “idea woman” doesn’t jive with reality.

  15. Hammie

    Real women have all this and more, but who said they don’t?

    Send em over here and let a real woman kick their arse.

  16. PapaLeOompa

    I needed this so much today, thank you. This was a truly amazing post.

  17. Anonymous

    “real women haven’t quite finished growing their boobs yet.”

    Brought tears to the eyes of a mom-woman.

    Real women gonna keep talking together about bein’ real women! thanks for this post.

  18. Anonymous

    Hey, thanks for posting this and NOT ignoring naturally skinny girls!! It sucks to read stuff saying “oh, REAL women have curves. Nobody really looks like those skinny models. Blah blah blah.” Cause know what? I’M JUST LIKE THIS NATURALLY!! I wish i could have curves, but this is just the way I am. thanks for not forgetting about me πŸ™‚

  19. stdnt1427

    I am going to have this printed and laminated and hung on my wall. I am going to have this painted on the ceilings of my future daughters and nieces and sisters and sons and nephews and brothers. I am going to shout this from the rooftops. I am going to whisper it into the ears of those who need it the most.

    And I will try as hard as I can to believe it for myself.

    Thank you <3

  20. ~Hurricane B~

    This is a lovely post, that rings true to women everyone. We are told we have to look a certain way, fit into a certain mold to be good looking, or good enough to get married. Shoot we are told in order to be complete we have to get married, or have a career. We women go bat nut crazy trying to please, family, men, media to fit what they think we can. I think a real woman is someone is happy, loves her wobbly bits and always looks to grow as a person on the inside. This post is a great read.

  21. Ramen

    I needed that. Thank you.
    And yeah, thanks to whoever stumbled this site and putting that post in front of me.

  22. Missa

    This post means more to me than I can really say. I am bald, nor by choice or disease but because I want to me. I wear baggy over sized clothes so most people can't even tell I' a girl at a glance. I've been told time and time again that I'm not a real girl. That I don't count as a woman. You're right though, I am and for the longest time I just accepted that. It upset me but I never said anything about it. One day though I mentioned this to a friend of mine, and this is what he told me. "When you first told me you cut your hair I was disappointed. I thought you wouldn't be as pretty as you use to be. I was wrong though, no matter how you look, if you hair is short or long, if you are big or skinny no matter how you look you will always be the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." He's right, no matter what if I am just myself I will always be a real woman and I will always be beautiful. :]

  23. Sal

    stdnt1427: Thank you, doll. What a lovely, lovely comment.

  24. Sal

    Thanks to ALL of you for your wonderful, supportive, heartfelt comments today. You've affirmed, once again, that I have the world's most amazing readership and I'm so grateful for you all!

  25. Jennifer

    I stumbled here, and I'm so glad I did. This is a wonderful post, one I think we all need to hear.

    Thank you so much.

  26. Chris

    Thanks Sal for once again keeping it Real (I couldn't resist).
    You usually give me something to think about but today you blew me away.

  27. Deva

    And with this point, the shy real woman comes out of the woodwork and finally comments. Thank you, Sal. Thank you so much, I absolutely love your blog and your outlook on life.

  28. kelly

    what an AMAZING post to read {and you have a knack for picking the right day to hear such affirming words}. your blog is my happy place. πŸ™‚

  29. Marian

    I stumbled upon this, and I’m so, so glad I did. I get so sick of hearing about “real women” – finally something that’s actually true! Thank you so much for writing this, I wish I could show it to everyone I know.

  30. parlezvouskiwi

    Just the pick-me-up I needed – thanks! πŸ™‚

  31. Tiana

    I also stumbled here – great post, and I’ll check out the rest of the blog. There is one thing I’d like to add though: When I got to the paragraph about work, I missed a mention of women with disabilities. Obviously women who can’t work at all are real women, too … but I’m sure you knew that. πŸ™‚

  32. Stain On My Red Shoes

    I salute you for this post. This is the kind of issues that always surround us, women. especially if you work in fashion industry. i don’t really work in the industry but i am around those people who do. sometimes it bugs me when they keep telling me that a woman is never skinny enough and other stuff that put women in a position of being an object.

    thank you!

  33. Sher

    So true!!!

    …. being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery . …. even shorten your life.

    So be yourself and enjoy life.

  34. [Whit]

    I am so happy to read this post. A lot of women love themselves for who they are, and some are in the process of nurturing that self love. Our society needs to realize that beauty is all encompassing , and this post sheds light on that. Thank you.

    This post reminded me of this quote, “The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be. . . . Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.”

    Be who you are, and love it!

  35. Sal

    [Whit]: That quote is FANTASTIC! Any idea to whom it is attributed?

  36. [Whit]

    Wilfred Peterson. I’ve never read any of his books, but heard they are fantastic.

  37. Spandexpony

    Beautiful post, Sal! Super well written, yet so simple. Even stoical me felt a little mist comin' on…

  38. Latha

    What a post! I am forwarding it to every woman I know.


  39. Kari

    Yes, yes, yes.

    Thank you for posting this. I don't have anything to add, but I think this post is spot-on.

  40. diana

    first time commenter—this is wonderful. as much as I hate e-mail forwards, this belongs in one!

  41. Hannah

    Beautiful and inspiring. Your blog makes me smile every time I visit. Thanks πŸ™‚

  42. CarolAnn

    I just stumbled on this – I've posted to my blog to send people over to read it. It's amazing – I rank it up with my favorite poem, Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman.

  43. Vanessa

    Though I'm not the first person to say this: AMEN!

  44. tis serendipity

    Oh Sal. Thank you so much for putting into words what so many people have dared/haven't dared to think and for putting them so well. I'll read and re-read this all the time.

    (Btw, is it alright if I put a link to this on my blog and perhaps put a small excerpt in the post too? thanks!! ;p let me know!)

  45. Amanda

    This is so so beautiful and encouraging. Thank you so very very much.

  46. Anonymous

    New to your blog, so am reading past entries, and just had to comment and say a resounding Thank You to this. I needed this reminder today. So thank you.

  47. Glaux

    Thank you so much for this! I run an annual women's retreat and last year we had several women express that they felt like they had no right to be there because that weren't "Real" women. Your post beautifully sums up everything that my co-facilitator and I tried so hard to bring to these women.

  48. Fifthmarch

    Can I put a link to this post in my blog? Pleeease? I've been told that my eyes are too small compared to the rest of my features, and that I would have a good figure if I reduced my waist from 26 inches to 24 inches. This post made me feel so good! I know I'm rambling, but anyway…. Thank you!

  49. Anonymous

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Beautifully written, and so true.

  50. joanna

    Thank you for this post. In it's very specific way it's really uplifting for me. I think I sometimes feel like I need to change something about myself to be real and accepted. And you help me understand, that I am the most real when I am myself. There are days when I really need to hear it to believe it. Thanks again!

    I had stumbled across your post, when using the – and I am giving my thumb up!

  51. Anonymous

    This was a really cool page to stumble on, thank you for helping people see that there is no woman more real than another.

  52. Throckmorton Jones

    Great post! Now if every woman could read this and believe it.

  53. amanda

    This is awesome! This needed to be said, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that someone finally had the guts to do it… and with such panache! Keep it coming!

  54. Sara

    Only one addition, and that is that other real women can prefer us all, too. :] Just sayin'.

  55. Sal

    Sara: Pretty sure I covered that!

    "Real women have sex with men, or with other women, or with both, or not at all, or aren't ready for sex yet, or don't want sex anymore."


  56. Jazzy Shanay

    Awww I absolutely love it. This made my day πŸ˜‰ More women should read this…and believe it.

  57. Schehera-zade

    I just stumbled here and I'm really glad I did. Your post is really very empowering. Thank you. I'll tell my friends about your blog.

  58. John

    This is all true. However, as a male I'd like to request that women don't say "a real man would do _____", "you're not a real man unless you do _____" in the company of either men or women. Real men can be arseholes, rude, violent etc, just like real women can be.

  59. andygirl


    I'd like to add: real women are loved. real women love fiercely even when they are unloved.

  60. Ms.Anon

    i just came across this today even though it’s been up in the blogosphere for awhile…you are truly amazing. i’m a young woman who, like many, is still navigating my “womanhood” not mention so many other aspects of my realness, of my identity. i saw myself in every other sentence and i just wanted to give you a virtual hug for what you do on this site. have a lovely holiday season & a happy new year πŸ™‚

  61. Bridget

    this is beautiful! this made me feel so good on such a shitty day!:)