In The News
According to This New Swim Line, a Size 8 is Considered “Plus-Size”. Oh.
As a plus-sized woman, I was excited to read the headlines this week about 24-year-old Australian model Robyn Lawley who has launched a “plus-size” swimwear line for women. My excitement quickly turned to disappointment and then complete dismay when I found out that the line starts at size 8! For the love of all things sacred, plus-sized women are not a size 8! I used to laugh when I heard that plus-size lines started at size 14… but now it’s an 8? Forget laughing about it I’m ready to sit down and cry. The more I read the more irritated I became. Who makes the rules for this stuff anyway? Obviously not curvy gals that’s for sure. After searching for Ms. Lawley’s photo online I discovered that she is a size 12 and is considered by the fashion industry a plus-sized model. If only I could return to a size 12. I’d be happy if I could be a size…oh never mind.
Having battled with food addiction and my weight for most of my life, I struggle with finding clothes that fit appropriately; it’s not an easy task. Needless to say, I have not worn or even owned a bathing suit in more than twenty years and it is more than likely I won’t be wearing one anytime soon either.
When I think about plus-sizes starting at a size 8, I can’t help but wonder what message the fashion industry is trying to embed in women’s minds. If being a size 8 is considered “larger”, then does that mean that anything over that is unattractive and unacceptable? What message is this half-cocked idea sending to vulnerable teenage girls who struggle with image issues to begin with? The fashion industry I believe is trying to perpetuate the idea that smaller is better and more beautiful instead of promoting something even more important - a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and exercise. Imagine a young high school freshman going to shop for back to school clothes. She’s nervous about fitting in and going to a new school. Let’s say she’s a size 12 and she finds that she has to shop in the plus-size department because everything above an 8 is in that department. Before her high school years even start she has already been sent a message that that she’s too big. She’s already discouraged and she already feels insecure.
When my daughter was younger girl clothes seemed to be more age appropriate. Little girls looked like little girls. Now, 20 years later it seems that even little girls clothes are being designed to be more grown-up. Sexy, even. Just recently I heard a little girl in the grocery store tell her mother that she didn’t want a certain snack because it would make her fat and being fat would make her ugly. What’s going to happen when that little girl gets a little older and is forced to shop in the plus-size department as a teenager because she’s bigger than a size 8? Naturally it shouldn’t matter but with the fashion industry making such distinctions, I fear that this will continue to create physical and mental health issues for young women who will ultimately resort to starvation as a means to stay small.
Let’s face it - there are more plus-size people in the world than ever before and I do believe that we (society) need to figure out a way to make those statistics change. But changing the sizing scale to reflect smaller sizes as plus-sizes is not the way to do it. In regard to Ms. Lawley and her line of plus sized swimwear, I wonder if the fact that the average price for her “affordable plus sized swimwear” ($150) has anything to do with reducing the size to an 8; after all having a larger size range will allow more “plus-size” women the opportunity to wear her fashionable creations.