There is still a very real and potentially harmful issue in the plus size world.
Yes, strides have been made to bring plus size wants and needs to the forefront of the fashion industry. Yes, designers are now looking at producing lines that go beyond a size 8. Yes, plus size models are being utilized more in mainstream media. But there is still an outstanding issue that no one is talking about.
We are now living in a time where there is such a thing as the right way to be plus.
As if fighting for plus size representation isn't tiring enough, it is now imperative that we start fighting for the wide range of body types the term plus size encapsulates to be equally and fairly represented in the media as a whole. The reality is that not all plus size bodies are deemed equal. I am the last person to ever put down anybody or group of persons based on the way they look and this is not in any way what I am trying to verbalize here. What I am trying to shine a spotlight on is the fact that the range of plus size bodies that I see in fashion campaigns and in the media is very singular and not at all representative of ALL plus size bodies. Placing hour glass figures at the top of the plus size pedestal is doing the complete opposite of what body positivity strives to do. By celebrating a certain type of plus size body, all we are doing is further alienating young girls and women who are not only shunned by the lack of plus size representation as whole, but who are now also shunned because their plus size and fuller figures don't look like the few that are actually out there.
Plus size representation in the modeling realm in particular is so important. I can never stress enough how critical it is that fuller figures be shown along side straight sized figures on the walkways of Milan an on billboards in Times Square. However, the fact remains that when discussing or portraying plus size in today's world, this discussion leaves out the apple shaped ladies of the world. The ladies who, like I, carry our weight in our abdominal areas.
Women whose bodies were built without the small waists or full hips. I can not say this enough but I will continue to repeat it - having an hourglass body shape is not wrong. What is wrong is the fact that society as a whole has deemed the hour glass body shape as the face of plus size and full figured bodies, often discounting any other body that does not fit into this very specific mold.
I understand that plus size representation is new and there are still a few people out there who are taking their time to warm up to thick thighs and back rolls. However, I am not going to wait for these individuals to get it together before I outwardly express my love for my body. I'm sorry that my thick arms and stretch mark hips make you uncomfortable but that is no reason to actively exclude all the varying body types that come with being plus sized nor does it give anyone the authority to deem one type of body better than another.
Of course, my opinion of the industry as a whole excluding different fuller figure body types does come with exceptions. Brands like Torrid and Ashley Stewart listen to their clientele and provide campaigns with visibly plus women with an array of body types. These brands are quite literally a shining beacon that the industry as a whole should strive to follow. Not only are they utilizing visibly plus models, they are inviting bloggers to be a part of the campaign, showcasing a wide variety of body shapes and proving every body is beautiful and unique.
I am overly passionate about this disparity in today's plus size world because it is not too long ago that I used to search for someone who looked like me in magazines and fashion campaigns. I am thrilled about the strides that have been taken so far, with boss Queens and OGs like Ashley Graham and Philomena Kwao being the trailblazers in representing plus size figures. My concern comes with the fact that when we look at the plus size industry as a whole, it is still hard to find models and influencers that look like me. I am lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I am strong enough to understand that this is a serious hole in the plus size world and that it in no way means that I am not good enough; however, for those young girls who are at such a critical point in their development, seeing one body type as the standard in plus size modeling and fashion is so very detrimental.
We are emanating this message of body positivity and being happy in your skin while simultaneously saying that if you aren't a certain type of plus then you are still considered sub-par.
So, this rant is dedicated to the young 13 year old who doesn't see their body reflected in mainstream media. It is dedicated to women who are still battling with having a full figured body in today's day and age. It is dedicated to individuals who feel that they don't make the cut because the term plus size seems to only be reserved for one body type. I know it is difficult to feel like your body is beautiful amidst the sea of unrealistic body ideals, but I'm here to tell you that you are perfect! No matter your body shape or size, you are beautiful and worthy. It saddens me that even after years of fighting for fair representation, there is now another battle that needs to be fought; however, I am not one to back down from a fight.
The industry will not be truly diverse in their portrayal of women (and men!) until every type of body is given a chance in the spotlight. I will continue to hold the industry to realistic standards and will not shut up until all bodies are celebrated equally and with the same amount of excitement.