I’d Like To Have A Talk With The Person Who Decides What Qualifies As ‘Plus Size’

BF0NgOXCUAEQb1cAn Australian model has designed a line of plus-size swimsuits for all of you women out there who just had your second c-section and can’t come to terms with what is happening in your midsection. Oh wait. That’s me. I’m talking about myself. I need a bathing suit, so thank God Robyn Lawley, a gorgeous “plus-size” model has designed some for women like us. Only, I look nothing like her. She’s not plus-size. At all.

She’s 6’2″ tall and wears a size 12. She’s a gorgeous Amazon. I am 5’3″ and wear a size 12. I am not a gorgeous Amazon. I am a very cute non-Amazon. Why does this woman need to refer to herself as “plus-size?” Probably because according to the ridiculously unattainable standards set by the fashion industry today, she is a giant whale. Please look at the photos on her website before reading anymore of my rant. This woman is gorgeous.

Ever since she debuted this swim line at the beginning of the month, media outlets have been praising her for coming to the rescue of us chubby girls. Okay, I’m paraphrasing. Buzzfeed ran a list of images of her in swimsuits, titled “Robyn Lawley Launches Gorgeous Plus-Size Bathing Suit Line,” subtitled, “And it’s free of frumpy one-pieces and tankinis.” Then they proceed to show her in an array of frumpy one-pieces and tankinis. They just don’t look frumpy on her because she is a gorgeous supermodel. Oh, sorry – “plus-size” supermodel. Apparently having some boobs and a belly that is not concave makes a girl plus-size these days.

Here’s what The Huffington Post has to say about her swimwear line :

Featuring both one- and two-piece styles, the line currently covers sizes 8 through 18, but Robyn (a size 12 herself) plans to expand that range in the future.

And the suits themselves? They’re cute as can be. Promising to “distract from lumps and bumps,” the swimwear features splashy prints and elaborate details. They don’t come cheap (the lowest-priced suit in the collection will set you back $140), but we think they’re an investment. Now, we can replicate Robyn’s sexy swimsuit shoots ourselves — and feel more comfortable in our skin.

On what planet is size 8 plus-size? Oh, ours. A size 8 is not plus-size, this woman is not plus-size – and can everyone please stop calling the average size of woman in this country (14) plus-size?

Thank you. Rant over.

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You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

    Amen, Maria!!!! I am 5’0″ and a size 8…. A size that I have struggled to get back down to after having my son, before which I was a size 2. I am now pregnant with my second child and am already starting to gain weight at week 8. A few days ago, I was shopping for some “office wear” for my new job online. While trying to find something I thought would flatter my new body shape, every girl featured on JC Penney’s website (am I allowed to say that?) was a stick figure. I found myself looking at plus-size only tops because those were the only girls who looked like me. And I am NOT fat by any means. I have always had an athletic build, and even being a size 2, I wasn’t “skinny.” I was leaner.

    Long story short, why is what is really “normal” considered “plus size”? It’s infuriating.

    ETA: I weigh 132 pounds right now, which is technically on the heavier side for my height range. But my doctor tells me that bone frame and build must be taken into account as well. Considering I have a medium-sized bone frame and an athletic build, I am well within normal weight for my height.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      If I weighed 132 pounds I would walk around naked all day.

    • Justme

      I’m wondering why I was so self-conscious when I WAS 132 pounds. I should have rocked that shit out.

    • LiteBrite

      Me too. In college I weighed between 130-140. I thought I was ginormous. For one glorious semester I was even 120lbs.

      Now I weight considerably more than that and getting back to even 140 is near impossible. If I can make it to a size 10, I’ll be happy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      See my below reply to Sara610, as it is for you too. :)

    • Sara610

      This is funny…I’m also 5’0″, and after having my daughter I’m right around 132 and a size 8 as well. And before I had my daughter I was more like 122 and a size 4. I’m working hard to get back there; I’m not skinny at 122, but I feel comfortable in my skin and have a lot of energy and confidence at that weight, and that’s good enough for me. Right now at 132, I’m not horribly unhappy, but I’m not so comfortable in my clothes and my energy level is noticeably lower than it once was.

      There was a period during my adult life when I was 115. I’d love to get back there, but it was a time in my life when a lot of things lined up just right (vegan diet, lots of spare time to spend planning meals and working out, no kids yet) and I recognize that it might just not happen. If it does, great–I’ll be ecstatic. But I’m giving myself permission to be happy and confident regardless of whether or not I ever hit that number again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      Even though I want to resist with everything in me the mainstream media’s portrayal of “skinny” and “fat,” I can’t help but feel like the way I feel about myself is because of that. There are a lot of people who tell me they would love to be my size, but I just feel like a whale. I had never weighed more than 120 in my life and never had to work for that kind of figure. I just HAD it. I’ve also never known what it was like to feel self-conscious. Even being pregnant and getting up to 158, I rocked it. I was all baby belly and was convinced I would have a baby and just magically return to what I looked like beforehand. Needless to say, I do not feel very good about myself. And right now, especially. Being only 8 weeks pregnant, I should NOT have the belly that I do. Especially considering that I haven’t been able to keep anything down for two weeks now.

      I feel like people are hating on me because I’m upset about weighing 132 pounds. But regardless, I do not like the way I feel about myself right now. And I think a lot of that fault can be attributed to the media.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I had an eating disorder for more than a decade. Throughout that time, I was never more than 135 pounds. I saw a fat person every time I looked in the mirror – and my body was amazing. An unhealthy self image usually isn’t grounded in reality – and yes, I really do think the media has a lot to do with it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      What a terrible time that must have been for you, Maria.

      This scares me for what our daughters are gonna go through in their adolescence. When I was younger, models were heavier. When my mom was younger, Marilyn Monroe was the “dream figure” and she was a size US 8, according to one source I’ve found. When I was in college, I did a term paper on eating disorders in children. I studied a class of 5th graders. Out of 18 girls, aged 9-10, 14 of them thought they were fat. 8 of them said they were dieting and exercising to lose weight. 5 of them wore make up. And 3 of them told me they wanted plastic surgery as soon as they were old enough. A little girl can’t even be a little girl anymore.

    • meteor_echo

      Heh, same here. My biggest weight was 120 lbs or so back in high school (not too good at converting imperial units into metric and vice-versa). I’m 110 lbs now (I’m short and pear-shaped, so I never look “skinny”) and I feel bloated, ugly and disgusting.
      Then again, I have body dysmorphic disorder.
      It must be even worse for the newer generation.

  • Justme

    I’m 6’0 tall and waiver between a 12 and 14…I’ll be perfectly honest – I FEEL plus size. I might not look plus size to other people but seeing as how I used to be a 6 or an 8, I feel quite enormous. Yes, I understand that pregnancy changes your body and it’s supposed to be this glorious thing but for me it was really hard to gain weight and watch my body morph into something virtually unrecognizable from my former self.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I totally understand. I’m currently in the process of trying to lose weight after my second c-section – but I still hate that “average” women are made to feel bad constantly.

    • Justme

      I guess my issue is not from what the media tells me I should look like, but how I know that I used to look. I wish I could get that 24-year-old flat tummy back. I’m almost angry at myself for gaining all this weight. Ugh.

    • Sara J. Hutchinson Underwood

      Ditto. I’m only 5’1″, but before children I was one of those women who would take both a size 2 and size 0 into the dressing room in case the size 2 was too big. Now after 2 kids I’m a size 10 or 12. I know, I still look good for my age, I’m not really overweight, but sometimes it kills me knowing that I used to be super thin and now I’m not. I just FEEL fat.

  • AStewart

    I understand that a US 8 is nowhere near plus sized (that’s what I think I am, I’m a UK 12), and obviously size is unrelated to looks and worth, and isn’t a direct indicator of health. But a US 14 (UK 18) is “plus-sized” – whether it’s the average is a different matter. The common bell-curve in the UK is a size 8 – size 16 (US 8 to US 12). Some places sell UK 6 (US 2) and most average shops do sizes up to anywhere around 18 – 24 (US 14 – 20) in their standard ranges and have plus-sized ranges from a 16+ (US 12).
    For an average build, I’d consider that about right – I’m the same height as you and if I went up two dress sizes to a 16 (US 12) I would definitely be “plus-sized” for my frame – for taller ladies a 14-16 (US 10 -12) could still look slim in proportion.

    Whether shops have accurate sizing is a different thing, but given that plus sized items are often cut differently to accommodate for shape, that seems about right to me.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I get that I’m plus size, because I am 5’3′. But just because this woman is a size 12, doesn’t mean she’s plus-size. How you could ever look at that woman and call her “plus size” is beyond me.

    • lea

      Isn’t Robyn Australian though? So an Aussie size 12, which is US size 8.

      Not plus sized.

      I think, though, that clothing ranges that extend above a size 14 or 16 AU are considered plus sized ranges…

      So while *she* isn’t plus sized, her bathing suits are.

  • http://sarahhollowell.com/ Sarah Hollowell

    I’ll just be over here being a size 28 and nowhere near the highest size they’re gonna offer and also generally a size not talked about because I’m on the end of, “Oh, wait, we should be body positive, but that’s TOO fat…”

    I’m also gonna be over here being really happy with my body and myself. Because I am. I’m sick of people telling me what I should think about my body and looking at women like this and going, “If she’s plus size, what am I?” I’m me. Fuck ‘em.

    • keelhaulrose

      Another size 28 here. I am exercising not to lose weight, but to get healthy, I’ll fully admit it, but I can rock some big-girl clothes.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I didn’t mean to leave you out – I don’t think anyone should be made to feel bad about their bodies. I just think this whole thing is becoming ridiculous. Soon anything that isn’t a size 0-4 will be regarded as “plus size.”

    • http://sarahhollowell.com/ Sarah Hollowell

      Oh, no, I honestly didn’t see it as *you* leaving me out. It’s just frustrating to see like “oh man new plus sized clothing…up to size 18!” And then I headdesk.

      And it is stupid. I’d just as soon not be in some special plus size section and just have, y’know, sizes.

    • Katymonster

      *high five* Amen, sister.

  • keelhaulrose

    This is what I was saying after America’s Next Top Model referred to a size-four-to-six girl as ‘plus size’.

    Actually, I think my wording was “what the eff are they talking about, I could eat that skinny b–ch for breakfast”
    It’s why I won’t let my daughter watch it anymore, even though she loved it. I don’t want her to think her very athletic and healthy aunt, who is a size 8, is plus-size. I want her to think she’s healthy and beautiful, because she is.

  • Alicia Kiner

    Plus size is a phrase that needs to be stricken from our vocabulary. Men at least get Big and Tall, which would make sense for this particular woman. I’m one of those people that while I’m fat (yes I said it, and yes, I’m changing it), clothes don’t fit me. Plus size are too big, “normal” clothes are too small. So I stole a couple of my husband’s belts that don’t dig in uncomfortably, and I go on about my business. As far as swimsuits… I buy tankini’s. I have to. One pieces just don’t fit. They aren’t long enough in the torso for my girls to not make an appearance. So I go to Old Navy, get an XL top, XXL bottom, and move on. And for reference, I wear an 18 in their jeans.

  • Dyani

    I don’t fall into the “plus size” range, so maybe my opinion doesn’t count as much, but I don’t get what the problem is here. There are some pretty cute swimsuits in the collection, which I didn’t see actually labelled as plus size, although they ae in fact available in size 20, which I can imagine would be a hard size to find in traditional venues. I think she is a beautiful girl who probably still has trouble finding properly fitting swimsuits for her body and saw a need/market for them. That being said, it’s pretty hilarious that the website has a link to her “what I ate” blog, to prove her plus size cred.

    • Gangle

      Yeah, I had trouble finding where it said it was a plus sized range.

      She refers to herself as a plus-sized model, because in the industry that is what she is referred to as.

      Having said that, I absolutely hate the terminology used in womens fashion.

    • Tusconian

      A lot of the issue is that plus size models aren’t usually plus. They’re often size 10-12 ish where depending on the clothing line, plus starts at 12-14. However, it should be noted that in a lot, if not the majority, of off the rack “straight sized” clothes are modeled by people too small to wear them as well. Go into any GAP, Guess, Abercrombie, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, or Land’s End (especially Land’s End) and look at the mannequins…..the smallest sizes will be positively hacked up and pinned to death because the mannequins (about “model sized”) are notably smaller than the 0/2/XS sample size given.

      Another big part of the issue is that people conflate factual numerical information such as weight, BMI, or pant size with “looking fat by my personal arbitrary standards.” If we say plus size starts at size 12 (again, depends on the brand), it doesn’t matter whether a woman is six foot two or four foot nothing, she is deemed plus size. Even if a size 12 looks different on a six foot two woman than it does on an average height woman, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get to be plus sized if that is the size she wears and that what we have decided to call “plus.”

  • Madame Ovaries

    I worked in fashion for a few years and I once worked for a designer who added a “plus size” collection to the line she did for a major retailer. When we started setting up the shoot for the new clothes, I realized the samples we were putting aside were just size large, which did not fall into the “plus size” size range (1x-4x). Turned out the woman we hired to model the new stuff was too small to wear our “plus size” clothing. We actually had to request that our factories make special versions of the new clothes in sizes smaller than what would ever be sold in order to take the pictures.

    This is the shit that is creepy and infuriating to me. Even when retailers are selling clothes to normal-sized women, they won’t picture normal-sized women in the ads! The very existence of cute, larger clothing is often sold as a win for “normal women” and the clothing industry likes to pat itself on the back for it, but the *images* we see are as or more important than the ability to buy the clothes in terms of the message it sends, particularly to young girls.

  • Toaster

    So does anyone know where I can get a flattering swimsuit for my body, which includes features such as hips a mile wide, a stomach with that lovely post-baby fat/skin pouch, and big ol’ breastfeeding boobs?

    • kiinu

      Cacique.com It’s the intimates brand associated with Lane Bryant, it’s pricey but the swimsuits are actually good looking and most of the time have built in bra’s that actually work.

    • Plus Style

      AlwaysForMe.com has a great selection of cute swimsuits in sizes 16 – 26. Great trendy colors and prints that you don’t find in department stores.

  • Katelyn

    What I hate, is looking in the plus size clothing ad… and seeing women who are NOT plus-sized wearing the clothes. How am I supposed to get excited about new clothes if I never see them on anybody my size? I’m not uncomfortable with myself or anything, I’d model underwear if anyone actually wanted to portray a large woman in their large woman clothing. I’m 5’6″ and I wear anywhere between a 20 to a 24 depending on brand. I would like to look in an ad and think ‘ah, that looks good on her, it would look good on me too.” and be able to set my heart on that dress. But I can’t, because the models are always slim, so I have no idea if it will look good at my size, because the model is anywhere even CLOSE to my size. Even the mannequins are a curvy 10 or something, because the clothes are always pinned to them to make them stay up!!

    Plus sized models should be plus sized. Damnit.

    • Peneloope

      A couple of years ago, I read Camryn Manheim’s biography ‘Wake Up, I’m Fat!’ where she talks about writing a letter of complaint to Lane Bryant for not featuring plus-size models in their clothing. They wrote back to her saying that their research showed them – by comparing advertising campaigns with plus-size and non plus-size models – that consumers responded more to the non plus-size models. So it would seem companies use skinny models because we’re more likely to buy something a thin girl is modeling. So sad.

  • Zorbs

    I’ve never seen a plus sized woman at the pool wearing anything but frumpy “slimming” black one-pieces and/or shorts and a rashguard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

    God, I don’t even have kids and I feel the same feelings as all you ladies.

    Until I was 15 I was a size 0-2 and was SUPER skinny, I mean people thought I was anorexic, then I became a size 5, I felt so fat and so awful and Oh God how can I be a size five Oh no my life is over oh God I’m going to go snort crack until I can fit into my size zeros again. (I never did snort crack, I was just a really dramatic teenager that threatened to do drugs to lose weight)

    Fast forward three years, I was a size 15, and I haven’t gotten down from there, in fact it was amazing, usually when you have undiagnosed Celiac’s disease you lose a lot of weight (Because you’re unintentionally starving yourself), I probably lost 10 pounds, went to a size 13, I stopped eating gluten and my body hasn’t realized that I’m not going to starve it again so I weigh the most I have ever weighed somewhere near 179 lbs at 5’9. This is the girl who people made fun of for having an “Eating Disorder.” This is the girl who was a model for many years. I don’t hate my body, I don’t hate my body at all, I think that my body is absolutely amazing; but I do wish I could be thinner. And I do try to diet, and I do exercise regularly.

    It’s really kind of funny and sad at the same time, I went to a party last night that had a ton of people that went to my high school, most of the guys got thinner since graduating, all but one of the girls got fatter.

    • B

      I like you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

    Also, all of those swimsuits make her look frumpy. She has UGLY swimsuits, sorry.

  • Yves

    I wish I was as thin as “plus size” models. Ok I am pregnant now. But before I got pregnant, I went from a size 18 to a size 8. I was feeling REALLY good about myself. I am short, 5’2, so obviously extra weight looks 10x worse on me to begin with. Well, about the second I got pregnant, the size 8s stopped fitting. I don’t even know what size I would be now, maybe a 12-14. I just wear the same 3 maternity outfits over and over. I am a nurse so I basically live in scrubs anyway. I am 19 weeks pregnant and already feel like a cow. I’ve technically only gainned like 7 lbs, but my belly is huge and fat. It’s like all this hidden fat from when I lost weight got pushed to the surface.

    Anyway, all I’m saying is, truly being chubby sucks and an expensive, overpriced bathing suit modeled by taunt, un-chubby women with smooth abs, doesn’t exactly make you feel better, or want to buy it.

  • AmazingAsh

    I wouldn’t call her line “plus-sized” at all… they’re made to fit a US4-US14.

  • Chantelle

    I think its because of her height that she wears a size 12. If she were 5’7 or so she would probably be a size 8 which I agree is not plus sized at all. I’m sure there are many tall women out there that may not be considered chubby or overweight that have difficulties finding cute swimsuits for their bodies and would really appreciate her line.

  • B

    size, size, size, blah, blah, blah. Hey, guess what, I fit into a size two last week. I cut the label out (size 6) and sewed a label with a 2 on it! Hah! Great trick. I am sick of this discussion. Models look one way, I look another. My hips are 37 inches instead of 35 or 34. I am 5 foot 5 instead of 5 foot 9. I’d consider starving myself to look better, but I can’t because I don’t have the willpower and I have other things to worry about besides looking like a model. I don’t look disgusting. Good enough for me. If I think about this stuff too much, I go crazy. People have called me ugly and average looking and everything in between.

    I can’t change society, but I can try not to get obsessed with this stuff. Glad models have a genetic make up such that they can basically not have to work or use their brains and can make money, sometimes even get rich. Good for them. I’m not that way.

    This woman looks fine. Call her plus size, regular size, funny size, hippo size or just plain size. She shouldn’t care too much. Tim Gunn, while I like you, I just don’t have the same commitment to fashion as you do and I just can’t care so much. Fashion industry, while you are a big money maker, you are, at times, rather silly and you are not as important as politics and freedom.

    OK, my rant over.

  • Luisa

    I was just having these same thoughts last week. I live in Mexico. To this day I range about 14-16 US, for me shopping for american clothing is to buy in paradise cause they think body-wise and have styles in various sizes for all types of bodies (too tall, too short, too curvy, too skiny, hip, waist, leg, boobs, etc). Here everything that is made or comes to the stores is for slimmer bodies with no curves which is not a reality in our country. A US 12 in Mexico is considered an XLarge, so anything above that is considered plus size (store-wise). Stores have what they call special sizes (MX 38-44 which translates into a US 16-20) but the fitting is just not right. I went by a little clothing store that caught my attention because it said “normal and plus sizes”. I went in there and there were US brands starting from size 14 and up. I felt relieved and at the same time a little offended, thinking that I have to go to a “special store” with “special sizes” and I am not that overweight!! I always have and always will be a tall girl with heavy bone structure and wide hips. I am trying to lose my baby weight and lose some more to be healthy, but still will always be taller than average here, and it does hurt a little to feel like a have to go to a special store to get an average size. I’d rather keep buying clothes in the US but that is not always a choice.

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