Not All Plus-Sized Women Are an Hourglass Shape

I’m here to say that mold is total BS, and I’m ready to see the fashion industry do better.

As body positivity becomes more of the norm (Yes! Finally!), plus size fashion continues to make its way into our favorite retailers. From Madewell recently extending its sizing, to J.Crew pairing up with Universal Standard and Target’s wide array of amazing plus size options, plus size ladies are finally getting somAQe recognition. Last fall, there were 90 plus size models present at New York Fashion Week, up 86 from the four that walked in fall 2016. We’re getting somewhere!

Size inclusion is slowly starting to become a commonplace, but not all women are truly being represented. When you see a plus sized model on a runway or in a magazine, her body is always in perfect proportion. She generally has a large bust and hips with a snatched waist. Her stomach almost never looks “flabby,” and she doesn’t seem to struggle with fat on her wrists or ankles. News flash to both the fashion world and any woman reading this who can’t relate to this standard: not all plus sized women are shaped like a Coke bottle!

These women we see representing the size 14 and up body type (which encompasses 67 percent of women in the US!) are absolutely gorgeous, and I don’t mean to take away from their beauty. However, it can be frustrating as someone who doesn’t fit this mold to feel like my body is the “right” kind of plus size. My prominent double chin and my hip dips (the phenomenon when your hips “dip” in and get thinner) are almost never seen in models. It seems as though a plus size body is only palatable if the woman is plus sized in all the right places. When was the last time you went to a plus sized retailers site and saw a woman above a size 18 modeling the clothes? I’m not sure I ever have.

 

 

When you search for clothes for plus size bodies, they almost always recommend body-con dresses and skirts, clothes that nip in at the waist, and bust-flattering v-neck tees. An apple or pear shaped body is almost never going to agree with this. While I don’t think there should be rules on what women can wear, someone can almost always benefit from learning more about what will flatter their body. At a recent personal styling appointment, the stylist suggested only clothes that would cinch in my waist. While I enjoy that look sometimes, is looking smaller always a requirement for beauty?

And don’t even get me started on the notion that curves are sexy. Yes, I love that the media is finally telling the world just how sexy a woman can look regardless of her size. However, it’s frustrating to feel like that’s all plus sized women are marketed for. The styles of clothes presented to me almost always reinforce this stereotype— at stores, I’m sold fit-and-flare dresses and skinny jeans. Just because I’m a size 16 doesn’t mean I don’t crave a wide leg pant and flowy, shift dress in the heat of summer like everyone else! Our clothing options don’t have to be sexy or revealing to show off our body and feel confident.

Plus sized women are already constantly told their bodies should look different based on weight alone. Now, we have to deal with these stereotypes on exactly how our bodies should look in order to be desirable. It’s exasperating, and honestly exhausting, to feel like I have to fit into a mold all the time.

 

 

I’m here to say that mold is total BS, and I’m ready to see the fashion industry do better.

Here’s how I’m saying goodbye to this stigma and embracing the body I have.

 

Follow body positive women regardless of their shape

When every model seems to fit this hourglass type, it can be hard to look at plus sized women and not feel like my body is right. Finding women who embrace their body types rather than try to fit in with other plus size bodies showed me that there are women defying these stereotypes.

 

Wear what you want to wear

Stop following “fit guides” if you don’t feel that they work for you! I’m sorry, but I literally hate fit and flare dresses. They just look childish on me. So, I’ve made a personal policy that I won’t wear them, regardless of how many fitting room attendants say they’ll “flatter my curves.” Instead, I go for wrap and shift dresses. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and good, not what someone else tells you is right for your body.

 

Put your money where your mouth is

If you’re also over how brands perpetuate plus size body types, start shopping with brands who actively work against them. Eloquii has a range of “Viola” tops and bottoms made for women with significantly larger hips than their bust size. Target’s Universal Thread line offers denim in various shapes. Pay attention to the brands you buy from, and if their plus size representation isn’t up to par, let ‘em know! (I’ve found a nice little Instagram DM can actually go a long way in getting your voice heard sometimes). The more people who share their irritation with these stereotypes, the more likely a brand is to respond and change something.

 

Are you frustrated with these stereotypes, too?! How do you make peace with them and live for your own body? Tell us in the comments!

  • Mina

    While I support body positivity and believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, health does not, and it is equally important to recognize the risks that come with being plus sized – for example, preventable conditions such as heart disease, joint issues, and the adverse nutritional impacts of a diet that results in a beyond-plus-sized body.

    “When was the last time you went to a plus sized retailers site and saw a woman above a size 18 modeling the clothes? I’m not sure I ever have.”

    When was the last time you saw a skeleton modeling clothes in stores? I’m not sure I ever have either. I understand that retailers choose their models based on aesthetics, but I also think that they have a voice in normalizing what society sees. It would be irresponsible for retailers to promote and aesthetisize unhealthy weight extremes just so they can make more profit selling clothes to a wider demographic.

    “When you see a plus sized model on a runway or in a magazine, her body is always in perfect proportion…and she doesn’t seem to struggle with fat on her wrists or ankles.”

    There is a natural pattern of fat distribution when one gains weight – it usually goes to the breasts, hips and thighs – therefore while girls will naturally gain weight as their body changes, they manage to maintain their proportions if they are healthy. But when weight gain is so extreme that the fat overflows to areas like wrists and feet, the first priority should be to speak to a doctor, rather than looking for a cute outfit that will still look good.

    • Terfic

      Thank you for your concern. There are many reasons why people may have weight in wrists and/or ankles. The point is it is not any of your concern. To assume someone only is thinking of how they look in an outfit and not their health is a hateful view. Hoping to find clothes that fit and help one feel like a normal human is not a bad thing. You do not get to “punish” people that do not look the way you prefer. Please stop assuming you know every woman. Thank you.

      • Right on!! OMG we do not want to wear tents! So please fashion designers quit making tents! I want to look fabulous even if my thighs are thick. I go to a gym often. Watching carefully what I eat. But dang it I want to look good at the same time!!

      • Mina

        I made none of the assumptions you have projected, and have said nothing of my personal preferences when it comes to beauty, as that would be hypocritical.

        I myself have fought the same battle as the writer and many of you here in the comment section – that is how I know first-hand about the associated health issues. Seeing my condition ‘normalized’ was what got me in a downhill slide because I was lulled into thinking “This is ok, this is normal because they still sell clothes my size.” When I started finding less and less clothes that fit, I didnt see it as being “punished” – I saw it as a warning sign that something was wrong and that I needed to see a doctor.

        My contention with the article is with how it glorifies and normalizes a preventable condition that puts our health at risk. I would have had a similar response if the article laments about how smokers are under-represented in models, and how difficult it is to shop for trendy cigarette holders.

        The Everygirl has done a wonderful job in promoting a healthy lifestyle, and many articles on this site has helped me get back to a body where I can feel like a normal human being.

        • Inaya Shujaat

          Dear, I am soooo tired of people assuming that just because I am bigger than them, I MUST be in poorer health than them. I know women who appear to be in absolute PERFECT shape, and yet they have high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, diabetes, etc. I, on the other hand, have none of those problems.

          I’m fat, not sick. There is a difference.

          Also, I don’t tell you to gain a few pounds, so don’t tell me to lose a few.

          (Oh, and please don’t assume to know why I’m fat. It’s really none of your business.)

    • Are you a medical professional? Do you STUDY weight gain patterns in human beings as your JOB? Are you the personal physician for ANY of these women? Do you know their specific health concerns, diseases, medication regimens, etc?

      Oh…..the answer is no? Why am I not surprised? News flash kiddo, someone else’s health is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Say it with me again, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

      Do you tell other potentially “unhealthy” demographics of people they don’t deserve nice clothes too? Do you tell this to drug addicts, cancer patients, or those battling organ failure? I bet not. So why is it okay to do this when it comes to weight?

  • Jrenee

    The article is right on target. I recommend using different ppl with real positve body shapes and sizes. I love seeing the different articles now embracing plus size but lets also show the real truth.

  • Beth #TheResistance

    I may have an hourglass torso but I’m still built funny. I have a flat stomach but a very large caboose. Also my thighs are heavy. It’s a challenge to find Jean’s that fit or any pants really. When I find a retailer with clothes I like that fit (and really I don’t even know what that means any more) and are comfortable… I shop there. Period.

  • Emily Day

    This! To double down on this topic, my wish is that they truly showcased the wide range of women’s body types…right now, as touched on in the article, we see models who are either extremely tall and thin OR plus-size/hourglass-shaped. It would be amazing to see, for example, average sized women (like me) who aren’t skinny but aren’t plus size with and perhaps, to continue using myself as an example, a smaller bust and big hips… There are so many beautiful body types…not just two! Baby steps I guess…

    • Ashieee

      I completely agree! Even though I’m fairly thin, I don’t see models representing my size because I’m short and petite. There are never models under 5’9 or so, let alone under 5’3! I would love to be able to see how clothes fit on a shorter woman like myself so I would know if the outfit would work for me.

  • Carla Dodd

    I am a plus sized woman, and my hips and waist are EXACTLY the same measurement. Pants and belts are a nightmare. Empire waists are a joke.

    Okay, fashion industry. Take ME on with affordable clothing .

  • Elizabeth

    I need to know where to buy that outfit! Stripes on the beautiful woman in the kitchen. I love love love it!

  • Heather

    I was ranting about this very topic this week. I am a plus size woman with bigger upper arms. It’s impossible to buy a button up top or blouse with a more structured fit in the arms, without having to buy a much larger size. Not all women have the same arm size.
    Also, to add to the clothing lines embracing body positivity, I saw a couple of women on the ASOS website the other day that had dimpled upper arms and stretch marks. THANK YOU! Finally.

  • Sarah Maxwell

    I just wanted to point out that not all plus size women are short. I am a 5 feet 10inch plus size woman who has the hardest time finding pants that are long enough