Yesterday’s post about the problematic phrase ‘real women‘ sparked a fascinating and challenging debate on Twitter about the language we use to describe – and categorise – women’s bodies.
If we abandon the phrase ‘real’ women, what term do we use instead? If women can’t just be women – and let’s face it, we’ve still a long way to go before we overturn the domination of the ultra-slim, ultra-preened, ultra-airbrushed aesthetic – what phrase can we use instead to describe – not normal – but more representative women?
Real doesn’t work because, though it no doubt has good intentions, it just champions another aesthetic over another. We’re sick of being pitted against other women: celebrating curvy shouldn’t mean demonising skinny, as much as liking black doesn’t mean you have to hate white. We want new rules, and a language that is as celebratory as it is inclusive.
After a long debate, we had it. We want Healthy And Happy women.
Of course, HAH women can be curvy. They can also be straight. They can be tall, short, fat, thin, big boobed, small boobed, fake boobed, no boobed or one boobed. It doesn’t matter, because none of that matters. For far too long, women have been judged by looks first, everything else second. And it’s absurd. The amazing genetic lottery of the way we look is not even a fraction of our total selves and worth. Health and happiness, however, are really things to celebrate. Comparing our bodies to others’ and being judged on the way we look are not. In fact, they are the main things holding us back.
Will any brand champion HAH beauty?
But I am a woman, with curves, but I am not really that healthy, I live with cronic pain.
So how do you define healthy?
Am I not a HAH but only an H?
We were trying to find a word for women in advertising that was both celebratory and aspirational and nothing to do with looks. I’m very sorry to hear you’re in pain – believe me, I have known that. Do you find healthy is not an inclusive enough term for the job? x
I think HAH is a nice idea but it excludes everybody who has health issues and might not be so happy.
What about using Non Models NM as a term, that way you are not saying a woman has to be healthy and happy.
I can see your point. But we’re not saying everyone has to be happy or healthy: we were looking for a word to replace ‘real women’ in marketing that uses non-traditional women in marketing as a step towards making the use of women with of different shapes, sizes and ages in modelling the norm. The problem with ‘NM’ is that it still labels them as different and invites judgement on their looks. It’s very difficult! I would much rather women could be women, with no labelling ever needed at all. Who knows how many millions of miles we are away from that. Thank you for commenting: it’s very interesting (and important) to make sure we’re thinking about if from every angle x
But are you not by using HAH giving out the message that models are unhappy and unhealthy?
Which I am sure in some/many cases are true but not in all cases…
No, because HAH is supposed to be a phrase that can encompass all shapes. Ideally, modelling would become something that embraced all shapes without holding one up as best or normal. So models could be thin or fat or short or tall and none of that would matter any more: and this we would hope could help overcome the dominance of skinny in a way that wouldn’t push out thin women. The whole discussion (you can see it on Twitter if you go back) is not about trying to exclude anyone or simply uphold a new ideal aesthetic, it’s an exercise in trying to be positive about all body types and change the way we look at women x
How about just…women?
That is the dream…
Um-mm … How about “WOW!” campaign? Meaning WOW=World of Women. That expresses both admiration in every sense (we don’t say “wow!” only about looks, do we?) and is with no doubts all inclusive for every possible kind of women – models and non-model, tall and shot, healthy and deadly sick, happy or moody etc. etc… whole world of them.
Of course, it’s possible to conspire that it kinda discriminates the other half of humanity, i.e. men, but I guess they are strong enough to survive it. Especially when it’s about advertising of women lingerie 🙂
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