I rarely write posts purely about bodies because, as you all know, my focus is boobs no matter which bodies they live on. For a long time though something has been niggling away at the back of my mind then last week 2 things happened that made up my mind about writing this post. As a size US 8/10 (UK 12-14) I have never identified as a skinny person, apart from maybe when I was 9 and my haircut and knees were the biggest parts of me. I developed hips and boobs as a teenager and they've stayed consistently prominent throughout my adult years. Considering I have some major curves going on I've never identified as a Plus Sized person either. I don't need to seek Plus Size retailers to find clothes that fit and I don't encounter many of the physical or emotional situations that I read about from Plus Sized women. So if I'm not skinny or plus sized, what am I in the realms of social discussion? Apparently I, like the millions of other women, don't warrant discussion because I don't fit neatly into either of the two body boxes.
Last week there was a news piece doing the social media rounds about a school girl who started a petition to encourage Disney to create a plus sized princess. I think this is a great idea for more diverse representation from an iconic company, however, this kind of thing happens a lot where the two options seem to be 'thin' or 'plus sized' which bypasses the millions of women who don't identify as either. I don't look at a Disney princess and think "Yeah, I have those kind of proportions" but I also wouldn't see a plus size character and identify any more closely. Very rarely do we see people petitioning for a middle ground and I'm not really sure why.
|With her defined tummy, hips and thighs Robyn Lawley is very relatable for lots of middle-sized women but she is almost constantly referred to as Plus Sized because the fashion industry only allows for 2 groups of size.|
A topic that has been well discussed is the definition of Plus Size models. Robyn Lawley is a prolific model who at a size US 12 (UK 16) is considered Plus Size by the fashion industry but she's also over 6ft and proportionally akin to a size 10, 5ft 9 woman. I understand that the fashion industry is polarized into thin and plus size but Robyn looks proportionally like lots of us middle-sizers (bar the exquisite eyebrows perhaps!) but we're not allowed to have her as an ambassador because she gets allocated to Plus Sized where we don't identify.
I personally don't need validation from a slew of social media memes to help me define who I am. I am fortunate to feel very proud of my body and the person it houses so it's not for my own identification that I raise this question. However, lots of girls and women don't fall into the category of thin or plus sized and their fit and esteem issues are just as valid. It would be great if we didn't have such polarized 'categories' of bodies but it's naive not to recognize that 'thin' and 'plus size' have very visible representation in social media, retail and traditional media so where do you look if you don't fit neatly into either camp?
|Elomi (left) is a predominantly Plus Size brand with most bands starting a 34. Cleo (right) is a predominantly Full Bust brand with most bands starting at a 28. The shaping needs of these two categories can be quite different.|
The second occurrence that prompted this post was an article I read about finding good bra fit which said "if you have big boobs then you need a plus size bra and there are lots of brands to choose from, like Elomi". Yes, Elomi is a great plus size specialty brand, one that we are delighted to carry, but not all women with big boobs are plus sized!
When Paul and I created Butterfly Collection the lack of understanding around boob and body size was painfully apparent. The term Full Bust (meaning a 28-38 band size with a D-K+ cup) was almost unheard of when we began speaking to brands and customers alike. People kept trying to lump us in the Plus Sized category because they didn't know what else to do with us. And that's the problem for me. It's just lazy to ignore that body size and shape is far more diverse than just thin or plus size and the fact that a term like full bust is so hard for people to grasp shows the lack of language and understanding around body diversity.
It's because of this stereotypical idea that big boobs live on big bodies that I wanted to raise this subject. If you aren't a plus size woman but you also don't fit into the 'shapes' of Victoria's Secret, strapless tops and thigh gaps then it can be difficult to know where to look for retail help and social empathy and I hope we can change that by changing our language around body shapes.
|Kat Dennings, Christina Hendricks and Mindy Kaling are all public figures who I can identify with on a physical level and they've all been labeled as plus size at some point by a polarized 'thin' or 'plus size' rhetoric|
If you identify as a Plus Sized woman then there are a huge number of blogs, stores, public figures, resources and shows that identify as Plus Size and so are easy to seek out. If you're a size 8, 32G with big hips, no bum and a trim waist then finding people, blogs, stores and advice that empathize is a little trickier. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Does it matter if there isn't a mass representation and language around middle-sizers? Am I underestimating the representation that already exists? Let me know what you think xx