The standard for a plus-size model starts at a size 12. I wear a size 12, I weigh around 200 pounds, give or take a few, and I’m told I don’t look it.
“You are not that fat.”
“You sure you weigh 200 pounds?”
“Nah, you are just filled in all the right places.”
I am a normal-sized woman living in the U.S. but I could be a plus-size model. According to an article on Today.com, the new average size for American women is 16, yet plus size models start at a 12.
I’m not saying being a plus-size model is a negative. I’m talking about what being called “plus-size” does to women’s mental stability. Plus-size is just a nicer way to say fat — to say you aren’t welcomed into the thin-girl social club.
Ironically, plus-size modeling has turned into one of the most accepting industries in the beauty community. But imagine what those women had to go through to get to where they are.
When a young girl is told her body size is too big to be a model on the magazine pages she’s steadily turning, it breaks her whole world apart. Insecurities of never fitting into that world manifest into bad eating habits. You stop eating regularly in an attempt to shrink your waistline … just a little bit. You drink more water to disguise the hunger. You eat little bits of snacks here and there and later attempt to throw it all up. I know because that girl was me.
Today, I am more confident than ever but the fact still remains — stereotypical body norms alienate women all over the world every day, including me. I wake up in the morning, look at my belly in the mirror and feel disgusted. I look at my chubby face and get mad.
“Bodycon” dresses don’t look good on me because they show all my bumps and rugged, round edges. My thighs seem to jiggle on their own as I walk. They rub together, burning and creating bumps on my skin.
There will always be a feeling of inferiority — thoughts of self-hate screaming that you aren’t good enough, you don’t look good in your swimsuit, nothing looks sexy. Sometimes heels squeeze your feet and you feel you are too heavy to walk in them. Shapewear doesn’t help but you still buy tons of Spanx, even though it all rolls into your body. You even try out a revolutionary body corset everyone is talking about — but it’s suffocating, so it’s a no-go.
When I shop at my favorite stores and realize my size isn’t on the regular racks, but a special section of its own, it’s cringe-worthy. The goal is to make it easier to find but it feels more like a beaming red light singling me out.
I still go to the “normal” sections and pick up clothing I know won’t fit, further ripping apart my self-esteem. I’ve felt stuck in a sort of limbo at times.
No one wants to be called fat but we learn to cope with it. We accept that word and turn it into something meaningful for us, us “plus size” girls. We’ve turned it into a term of acceptance, welcoming other women to feel confident when called that word. The irony is that no matter how confident you’ve come to be within the word “fat”, the damage of years of personal torture is already done.