granny florals, orange tights, & a leather coat

ojIV

Two Australian women are currently campaigning against the term (and attendant concept of) “plus-size”. Model Stefania Ferrario writes:

“I do NOT find this empowering. I’m NOT proud to be called ‘plus,’ but I AM proud to be called a ‘model,’ that is my profession!”

Ferrario & compatriot Ajay Rochester claim that “the label is both counterproductive and harmful to young girls’ self esteem”. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here smashing my face against the keyboard: am I the only one who thinks they’re going about this completely wrong?ojVIIIojIII

First of all, I wish more people understood that plus-size isn’t a judgment or a statement on one’s personhood. It’s a garment category. It’s not about the people wearing those garments; it’s a way of classifying cut and fit to easily signal its intended audience. Just as “tall” means “longer inseams”, “petite” means “shrunken proportions”, and “maternity” means “forgiving stomach”, “plus size” indicates that a garment isn’t merely a bigger version of its size-zero equivalent. It means the whole garment has been restructured for a different scale. 64% of women polled believe that “[plus size] should be banned as a defining term, as bodies are bodies, no matter what the size”, which is all well and good politically but ultimately meaningless. Should we also stop measuring ourselves because “bodies are bodies”? More power to you (even if it is a tautology), but good luck finding a bra that way.

The categories you fit into aren’t a measure of your worth as a person. I’d much rather challenge the idea that they do than abolish categories altogether.

ojIIojVI

And on that note…I don’t think it’s harmful to young girls’ self-esteem to assess themselves honestly. Abandoning a certain term won’t make me any smaller. I’d rather come to terms with my proportions than rationalize them away. I want to own myself, and I don’t want to keep promoting the idea that being “plus-size”, or “curvy”, or whatever you want to call it is something to be ashamed of. Doing away with the label would broadcast shame loud and clear, and that’s what I find harmful to young girls.

Now I absolutely agree that “plus-size” models and garments are often marginalized, and I’m not in any way supporting that. I just don’t think that bigger models will magically become more accepted if we stop describing them a certain way. This kind of change runs deeper than that.

ojVII ojIX

 

5 Comments

  1. Amen. “More power to you (even if it is a tautology), but good luck finding a bra that way.” that made me laugh.

    But yes; I feel as though many people try to promote change by attempting to ban terms instead of owning those terms and making them a positive thing. Banishing “plus size” as a way to describe something makes it a shameful thing to be. Owning “plus size” as a body-positive, curvaceous model makes it something girls WANT to be.

    The colors in this outfit are just like… sooo good. And I would type more but a certain munchkin keeps hijacking my keyboard.

  2. The term doesn’t bother me one way or the other to be honest. What is dangerous is when a UK size 12 model is classed as such. That is wtf territory. On a more superficial note, the dress is beautiful. I can’t stop looking at that collar.

  3. I really like what you had to say about this! I have thought a lot about the term and I am in agreement with you. I think it is more productive to allow this to be a neutral, descriptive term (similar to “petite,” etc.) that conveys information to consumers about products.

    I think the danger is when we apply the term to PEOPLE. As if they can be summed up based on their size/body shape. So I get some of the backlash in that context (even when talking about “plus-size models”).

  4. I totally agree! I’d read something about these Australian models banning the term, and I thought that they were just talking about within the modeling world – like, it can be harmful for a self-conscious plus-size person to see a size 10 model referred to as “plus size”, therefore these models wanted to move away from the label.

    I think you really get it right with this, though, and this is why I don’t want to get rid of “plus-size”: “I don’t think it’s harmful to young girls’ self-esteem to assess themselves honestly. Abandoning a certain term won’t make me any smaller.” Almost nothing has helped me to be more confident in my style and myself than making peace with the fact that no matter how I dress, I am the size that I am and it’s clear that that is plus-size. Understanding that has helped me get out from under all the “vertical stripes are flattering”, “no tiny florals”, “slimming cuts”, etc that made me feel like my main goal should be, if not to be totally invisible, at least to be totally different from who and how I actually am. I’m not totally there yet, a lifetime as the “fat girl” means I have a lot of work to do! But I think you are right that getting rid of a functional label doesn’t help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s