The hashtag droptheplus has bought widespread attention as to whether or not women larger than a size 10 should be called/considered plus size as well as whether or not the term “plus size” should be dropped entirely. Personally, I have made my peace with being considered “plus- size” and really the only negative stigma I associate with the term are some of the fashions that are reminiscent of animal print, bedazzled maternity-inspired wear pushed to plus-size consumers with the lie, “Look we tried and you didn’t bite.”
Though created to simply describe clothing bigger than the acceptable straight size ideals, the term still holds incredibly negative associations regardless of how far the body positive movement has gone in the past decade. Our culture vilifies fat and fatness due to being linked to allusions of laziness, and ugliness. It leads to assumptions of one’s personality and behaviors as such a woman with fat* is one who clearly does not care about their appearance or attracting potential partners. They are the ones that have (supposedly) given up, and are responsible for making obesity an epidemic. Thus, plus-size is not a celebratory term, but rather a derogatory one that has lead to an increased fear of being recognized as such.
I believe that by accepting the term we are also accepting the associations and that is something that I do not agree with. It is interesting to note that it is only in the case of women’s fashion that you find such divisions due to size. If one were to look at the men’s wear floor space in any store, one would immediately notice that the clothing is evenly dispersed, being of the same styles and fabrics, while not separated by size. The plus-size section, on the other hand, is usually regulated to either the back of the store, the basement next to the men’s section (sometimes even next to the children’s section) or just simply removed from the entire shopping experience by being exclusively online with limited, and often times, ugly pieces that do not match the quality or style of the straight sizes, but are charged double, if not triple the price.
The whole reason this discussion is warranted is the fact that plus-size women like myself just want to be seen and heard. We want to be able to shop along with friends, we want to be provided with equally beautiful, fashion-forward pieces and we want to invited into stores. Yet, not only are retailers not comfortable with this, but even customers of these same retailers find no fault in this sorting and dividing by clothing size. For instance, when I was conducting research regarding the public’s response to Target’s decision to offering plus size clothing exclusively online, I found many of the comments to be
ridiculously negative. One man even said that as one that shops in the big and tall section, he has never once complained about it being being online so he did not see the justification for women to be fighting over plus sizes. Clearly this man is privileged as his voice is one that is usually taken under consideration, which is arguably why he misses the point entirely, as all bodies should be included within the retail space, especially since the average American woman is a size 14!
I will admit that when curvy became the new term I originally latched onto it with no intention of letting go, due to the fact that I wished to be considered to be as beautiful as the women I admire; women like Queen Latifah, America Ferrera and Nicole Beharie to name a few. For me they are not plus size, but they have curves, as women of color tend to do. Of course I now know that a specific size and body type doesn’t define beauty.
So should the term “plus-size” be dropped? I rather the negative associations be dropped and have democratized dispersion of fashion. Let’s just share the retail floor space!
Which do you prefer? Curvy, plus size or some other label?
*People are not fat, they have fat. Yes, “fat” is a descriptive word, but it should not be used to describe a person.
** To quote FOC, this is not a jab at thinner women but more so to correcting the assumption that “thinner” automatically means “prettier” or even “better.”
About this series: “My Two Cents” is a personal opinion series dealing with observed industry practices as well as society’s accepted concepts on body/self love and standards of beauty. It is meant to spark discussion on issues which I have deemed in need of addressing. Any ideas for discussion are welcomed and may be made in the comments or via the contact page.
Thanks for reading!