The Ironic Use Of The Term “Plus Size”

In a world where we are bombarded with glamorous magazines and flashy ads it can be almost irresistible not to compare yourself to the models you see before you. As the general opinion about body positivity changes, so does the fashion industry. What once was just a place for six-foot-tall skinny blonde girls is now a place for people of all shapes and sizes. But is all of this good?

For starters, yes. Plus-size models have worked incredibly hard to prove that they can even be in a position to model, which is truly admirable. No matter what you look like as a model it can be hard to book model jobs as companies are searching for specific looks. But for plus-size models it is that much harder as a large majority of people still have the belief that women that weigh over a fixed amount are less attractive and therefore won’t be able to sell the product at hand.

Ironically, that is where big companies stand corrected. Take model Ashley Graham for example. She’s a plus-size model that has appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Glamour, and Elle. She was also the first plus-size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated, has given a TED talk, and even has her own Barbie. These steps help pave the way for other women looking to pursue a similar career path. It also promotes the overall importance of body positivity and widens the scope of beauty. Even with these advancements, there are still a few flaws in this.

While all of this may seem good, there are some problems with the plus-size model movement. First of all the name itself is problematic. Using a separate term for anyone bigger than a size 10 sections them off from the sizes below them, which can cause these women to feel as if they are not part of the norm. Even when it can be near impossible for some women to reach the ever desirable size two that society wants them to be (which is not what they should strive for anyway). To set a more positive tone some women are switching from the name “plus-size” to “curvy.” However, it is not only the name that is controversial.

Another issue in the plus-size model category is that it is mostly filled with women who perfectly fit the hourglass frame. While these women are beautiful and are now established in a field they were not always welcome in, a common reader can still find herself comparing their body to ones that don’t look like their own. An additional problem that is clear in all types of modeling, not just plus-size, is the lack of inclusion and diversity. Companies still strive to display predominantly white models and/or traits such as straight hair, and blue eyes, as these are the attributes that society tells women, and people, to achieve. Again, even if that is impossible for women to obtain.

These plus size or curvy models are making tremendous strides in the fashion world to challenge traditional beauty standards, yet we as a city, state, country and world are just not quite there yet. It can be hard to say how much of a difference these models are making if there is still a gap between women of different races, and other characteristics for that matter such as, gender, and being differently abled. This growing trend of a curvy girl aesthetic is a good place to start, as long as we remember the fight to broadening the fashion industry is not over until everyone is represented.

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