It is indisputable that the fashion industry caters toward a very specific body type, and this concept is manifest in many of the terms we use to describe the array of sizes and body types that do not fit this mold. I am such a fan of the movement to embrace all bodies in the fashion and modeling world, but in order to effectively enact this change, there are a few fundamental terms and concepts that need to change first.
Slimming– This term refers to an article of clothing that fits in such a way to make you look thinner than you are. Telling someone to find a piece that is “slimming” is extremely disrespectful. Why should someone only wear something that makes their body look smaller? This is a representation of a culture that says “smaller is better”.
Instead, look for a piece that is “flattering”; that shows off your assets and celebrates your body. You don’t need to look slimmer just because our fashion culture wants you to.
One-Size-Fits-All– Unless it’s a scarf, one size does NOT fit all. In fact, many “one-size-fits-all” brands carry clothing that only fits women who are size small. This term is misleading and discouraging. If someone does not fit into an article of clothing that is supposed to fit everyone, their first thought is ‘why doesn’t it fit me?’.
Last summer I had a seasonal position at PacSun (Pacific Sunwear). PacSun carries an entire line of women’s clothing that is intended to be one-size-fits-all. Needless to say, it did not. It certainly didn’t fit me, and I watched as customer after customer left the dressing room hurt and offended because they claimed the brand to be “one-size-fits-no one”. This experience showed me first hand how damaging this term is. “One-size” is fine. But “one-size-fits-all” is usually just not true.
Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large, etc.– this system of sizing assigns discouraging labels and is also just confusing. What does medium even mean?? It means something different to every brand. And why are we telling people that their bodies are “extra large”? Why can’t we hear how offensive that is?
I am definitely an advocate for a sizing system that is based on measurements instead of haphazard and offensive labeling.
Plus Size– I know y’all saw this one coming. The entire concept that a whole sector of women should be alienated to a different section of the store should be eradicated, and that starts with eliminating the term. “Plus Size” has become a stigma that forces normal women to feel like they are unacceptable. I remember my transition into plus size being an extremely painful process, because I didn’t want to admit that I had “gotten fat”. We need to:
a. stop relegating curvy women to a different section of the store
b. stop charging curvy women more for the exact same styles
c. stop acting like “plus size fashion” is a thing; fashion is fashion, and it’s not plus-sized women’s fault that trends are tailored to and modeled by slimmer women
Okay rant over!