Three weeks ago (give or take), between the hours of 12am and 2am (the final window for action), I was hanging out (in bed) with a (not so platonic) friend when a certain C-word escaped his lips.
The kickback was instant. “Don’t call me that,” I snapped.
“But you are,” he protested, sadly watching my lady boner deflate.
You can probably guess which cockblockingly offensive C-word I’m talking about. It was..oh gosh, I don’t want to type it. All right, fine: curvy. As in, Look at that gorgeous, curvy body. Well, I never! How dare you, sir!
Summer 2008. The prime of my curves and the winter of my discontent.
Curvy. The more glamorous cousin of “big boned” and “sturdy” (see also: “appears to consume solid food”). Controversially applied to figures ranging from Lively to Sidibe, the jurisdiction of curvy is as tenuous as it is subtly offensive. Curvy, my ass.
My (not so platonic) friend is right. I’m a small person, but a curvy one. You’ll never catch my jeans hanging off my hipbones; no matter how many miles I run, I’ll always lay claim to a thick-thighed hourgl@$$ shape. And please, know that I say that with appreciative self-awareness. My body works hard for me, and it doesn’t seem to pose a problem for anyone else. I also fall down a lot, so all that padding serves a practical purpose in the end.
And yet. And yet. The C-word awakens a shallow, defensive impulse. While misguided, it makes sense when we consider the many faces of curvy women:
A 70-pound gradient of curves and hair.
From my perch at the far right end of this spectrum, I can look to its Botticellian left and see an attractive girl—albeit one who might be called “curvy” in lieu of less generous terms. Having been on the wink-nudge side of curvy, I find it hard to shake the connotation. To shrink from double-D’s to barely-B’s is jarring; for the two to share a common label seems unequivocally wrong. Put me back in your thin bin, dammit. I was born this way!
But why should I care? Beyoncé is curvy, and I don’t see anyone complaining (simmer down, Superdome). Blake Lively is curvy. They’re curvy because their bodies have curves. ”Curvy” wasn’t meant to be a euphemism for “fat”; politically correct society has made it one in recent years. While good intentions may drive our use of the C-word over the F-word, what about the consequences for those on curvy’s slighter side? If so-called curviness can lead me to question a healthy figure, is this linguistic revolution really for the best?
I don’t always love my body, but I respect it, curves and all. In my rational mind, I feel no shame about looking like a grown woman who eats. I don’t weigh myself. I care about my jeans size, but mostly because I can’t afford to buy new pants. If I can ignore a number, why can’t I ignore a word? Perhaps semantics carry more clout than we realize. The pen may well be mightier than the scale.
I don’t know what the solution is, and I won’t deny my heightened sensitivity to the language surrounding women and weight. I think “real women have curves” is bullshit – what are skinny women, imaginary? – but “skinny” is a vague and, for me, unrealistic ideal. I’m not a skinny girl. I’m a curvy girl, and I’m fine with it. I swear. Just don’t, you know, say it to my face.
Does the C-word bug you? Why or why not?