When I imagine a plus size woman I imagine someone who is a bit bigger than what an average woman looks like. The average size for a woman is 14. Plus size in my view would be about 18+. When we browse through online catalogs of what clothes to buy we see models. Those models are often size 14 and lower. When we see the rare plus size woman on the runway, she can be as small as a size 8. So the women we see as plus size are actually average. Plus size models are also required to buy padding to wear at shoots. This allows them to fill out clothes perfectly even if they lack in certain areas. Are we alone in the struggle, sadly, no we aren't.
The fashion industry is full of size shaming and is always searching for the best body and size to represent their clothing. For those who are straight size, being a size 6/8 may feel like plus size when all the models representing straight sizes see are size 0/1/2. A 6/8 may see a plus size model and not understand why she looks like her but all the clothes on the site or in the store look so much larger. This practice can lead to all sorts of body hate and body confusion. The smallest size is meant to show the clothing in the best possible way but if the women wearing these clothes aren't that small does that mean that these designers and companies are alright with their fashions looking wrong on their target customer? Where do we draw the line?
As for the plus size community we often see the average woman but free of common imperfections. Clothing on a tall woman with the perfect hourglass figure, free of excess belly weight, arm weight, leg weight, will almost always look flawless. The target consumer, however, comes in all different shapes and sizes with excess weight in a variety of places. Not to mention we don't have all that padding. A skirt meant to look great on that hourglass figured model may look great on some but others who have a flat booty, small hips, and larger stomach may find themselves looking drastically different. A top meant to look great on a smaller chested plus size woman may be extremely and suffocatingly tight on a bigger bust. We can talk about dressing for your shape and size for hours but as any site will show you, you'll have no real idea what that piece of clothing looks like until you try it on after you buy it.
With all these mixed messages its easily understandable to comprehend why young girls have issues with confidence, self love, self expression through fashion, and, worst of all, eating disorders. We live in a world where we are sold an ever obvious image. The image is that we should either be stick thin, which is fine for those who are naturally petite, or we should be a thick, full bodied, hourglass figure. Both of these body types are increasingly rare. They are not the norm nor the average. Is there something wrong with being thin or hourglass? No, absolutely not. The reality is simply that we exist in a variety of shapes and sizes and the media/corporations/designers has a very narrow view.
Even something as simple terms we use to desiribe ourselves can become twsisted. As a size 20 woman when i see a size 8 woman i cant help but to admire how thin she is. The size 8 woman, who is comparable to some plus size models, cant get over how "fat" she is. Thin means something very differnt to differnt people. Even terms like thick and curvy are being used to mean different things. A size 4 woman with a booty: curvy. A size 14 woman with an hourglass figure: thick. I always understood thin women to be straight sizes and thick and curvy to mean women to be plus size. The lines are so blurred our identity is being taken from us.
I will leave you all with one really mind blowing example. Marlyn Monroe. Her images have been spreed far and wide by many online as the pioneer of curvy and plus size women. The fact? Marilyn Monroe In this famous picture has a size 22/23 inch waist and 36 inch hips. Weight 140 lbs. She was never bigger than a size 6. Yet she's often viewed as plus size and quoted to be even as large as a 16. If we have become so disillusioned that we can believe a size 6 woman is plus size, then where does that leave all the women at size 18+? In a sad, sad world.