Does size matter? A look into the history of plus-sized clothing in America, how women are portrayed and whether the standards of beauty are on the way to major change. Shanna Johnson
What is plus-size? According to PLUS Model magazine, plus sizes are women’s dress sizes 12-24. Anything above a size 24 is considered super sizing, and below 12 falls under regular sizing. In 1922, Lane Bryant, a women’s fashion retailer, began selling “Misses Plus Sizes” to women with bust lines over 38 inches, says fashion website Fusion. Additionally, inn the fashion industry, however, models who are above a size 4 have been labeled as “plus-sized.”
What’s the big deal? The DCD says the average woman in America wears a size 14, has a 34 inch waist and weighs between 140-150 lbs. In sharp comparison, however, Dr. Pamela Peeke, MD says the average starlet gracing the covers of magazines is wearing a size 2 or 4. The issue here, said Alex LaRosa, a plus-size model, to HuffPost Live, is that the fashion industry is “causing body image issues.” She says “You're causing unrealistic expectations that every one -- every woman -- should be a size 4.” Alex LaRosa, plus-sized model Image from listal.com
Aiming for representation In part due to unrealistic representation of female bodies by media, 20 million women in the United States suffer from an eating disorder, says the National Eating Disorders Association. Many outlets have made steps to make changes in body representation in order to promote more diversity in media. Women’s Health magazine is attempting to squash the term “bikini body,” as well as phrasing such as “drop two sizes fast.” Instead, they are focusing on words such as “strong” and “healthy.” Jillian Michaels, fitness superstar, graces the cover of Women’s Health and epitomizes the idea of strength. Photo from dailymail.uk
Ashley Graham Although many women are proudly embracing the phrase “plus-sized” and using it for healthy empowerment, some models wish to abolish the term. Ashley Graham, the first plus-sized model to be featured in Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, has said she would rather not be referred to as “plus-sized.” The face of Lane Bryant’s Caique collection has said “I don’t like the term “plus-size.” It’s just not helping women. I’m ready to get rid of it. If you have to label me, I like to be called “curvy.” Ashley Graham is known for her body-positivity, particularly a Ted Talk about self-confidence and the work she’s done with Lane Bryant’s lingerie line. Photo from Sports Illustrated
Tess Holliday Tess Holliday, another plus-sized model, is proud of the label. People Magazine reported Holliday as saying, “There are plenty of things to get offended about, but taking a term that's never been used in hate and is merely a descriptor and trying to take away OUR community is not cool,” on her social media account. Holliday is known for her campaign “Eff Your Beauty Standards” and is one of the most well-known models over size 20. Tess Holliday has made waves in the fashion industry by gaining a lot of support on Instagram. Photo from People Magazine.
What do you think? Do you think plus-size is a term that needs to be embraced or eradicated? Do you benefit from the representation of larger women in the media? Photo from the Huffington Post