TERMINOLOGY, BODIES AND SOCIETY

Recently, several women* have discussed the term „plus size“ in the media and are adamant about it being removed from our active vocabulary. You ask why is the term so hated? If there is a positive way of saying fat women, wouldn’t plus size then be a great term to use?

Well, that is true, if that is the extent of your wishes. If as women and as part of today’s society we want to be termed and therefore confined within that space, then plus size is a great term to use. And to be honest, I kinda like it, too. It’s energetic, sounds kinda fun and gives the ‚body large‘ community an identity through being named and identifiable.

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But it also means that we are being differentiated. We are not the same as ’normal‘ women or everyone else in the fashion industry (which basically means all the ’skinny‘ people and fashion). We are the others. ‚Otherness‘ is a common term used in Anthropology and Ethnology to describe the feeling of being an outsider, and the feeling of seeing someone as an outsider. It goes both ways and thus creates difference, not in the sense of individuality but negative distinction. As such, societies and we as humans should not strive to negatively differentiate ourselves from other humans. We should see common factors and promote ‚togetherness‘.

In the plus size dialogue this translates to getting rid of a term to differentiate large bodies and their fashion, lifestyle and identities from the norm. Rather than finding a better, more suited term or getting people to accept plus size as something not apart from them, the goal should be to remove terminology all together. If there is no term and fixed identity to judge and categorize women by, we can start talking about acceptance of different body images and lifestyles.

We can start talking about fashion.

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*Both Ashley Graham and Melissa McCarthy have spoken very eloquently about this topic. Check out their videos and interviews online for more details!

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Melissa McCarthy agrees with Ashley Graham about the negatives of the ‚plus size‘ label (external link)

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