When Ashley Graham appeared on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated, it was amid plenty of hoopla, a hot trending topic, a historic event by some accounts. Here’s my reaction: if nobody had told me, I wouldn’t have known that she was fat. And frankly, I think that should be the goal: women of all varieties, ages, abilities portrayed as smart, beautiful, capable, human without being turned into a publicity stunt, a “Hey look, this magazine is awesome because we let a fat girl in. Buy it for your feminist scrapbook.”
I Don’t Want to See Any More Plus Size Models
Almost All Women are “Plus Size”
It’s hard to find precise definitions and stats, but a quick internet search told me that women starting at sizes 6-8 are considered “plus sized” models in the fashion industry, making the term almost completely meaningless, especially if the average American woman is a size 12-14. Why the label? By these standards, Ashley Graham is indeed impressively large at a size 16; but you know what? I’m bigger. Plenty bigger. When people half my size are considered “plus” how do you think that makes me feel? Sub-human. Monstrous. On the other end of the spectrum, I remember a high school friend stressing out about not fitting size 4 jeans anymore. It was sad and unnecessary. Why aren’t we all just “women”?
Almost All Women are Curvy
As much as I enjoy the positive term curvy to other options, I’m a little uncomfortable with the implication it contains that thinner women are perhaps less sexy, less voluptuous, less feminine, as in “Real women have curves.” We pretty much all have curves, so we’re all real women, right? But that’s not what the phrase is meant to convey. I propose not lifting ourselves up by putting others down.
Is The Term “Plus-Size” Helpful At All?
Earlier this week, I was in a store that carries styles I really like, but I suffered acute embarrassment when there was nothing in my size on the first couple of racks. I wasn’t sure if they carried my size at all, but there wasn’t a large stock of any one style, so I vowed to go home and look up their website before I rooted around any further. I imagined all the regular customers who knew this was a “skinny girl” store laughing discreetly at me sliding hangers for 30 minutes in search of the elusive extra-large. So if there had been a poster at the front of the store saying, “We carry sizes XS-XXL”, yes, that would have been helpful. I understand that it is not practical for all brands to stock all sizes, and I am happy to have recently started learning about real plus-sized fashion. (My wallet may not be happy, but I am.) There needs to be a way to advertise this, whether “plus size”, “extended sizes”, or just an advertised size range, at least when a company is starting out. However, if their advertising simply features women in those sizes, that might be all that is necessary.
Do I think all models should be tiny? Of course not! I hope that no one still seriously thinks that. I want to see women in all their rich variety in all walks of life, modeling and otherwise. (The same goes for men, of course, too.) I don’t care what they’re wearing, as long as they’re not wearing a label.