Wednesday, March 9, 2011

PLUS SIZE: Fashion Segregation?

I just read a blog on fox news that posed the question:

Do attempts to do away with term 'plus size model' marginalize the plus size consumer?

PLUS Model Magazine (@PlusModelMag) and women's specialty fashion apparel retailer Lane Bryant (@lanebryant) asked via Twitter - We want know: What's wrong with the word "Plus"? Share your thoughts

I shared my views on the subject to the extent one can via twitter but I thought I would elaborate here.

I feel that the term PLUS SIZE marginalizes women and has always translated to me as 'not good enough'; in comparison to the ridiculous beauty myth our society spoon feeds to us on a daily basis via the entertainment industry AND the fashion industry. I find the term offensive, archaic AND counter productive.

V Magazine's CURVES feature 2010

Who coined the phrase or created the term PLUS SIZE anyway? The jury is still out on that one. Based on my research all I was able to establish was whatever the "average" size was when this term was put into use the women who exceeded it were considered PLUS ... so were the ones who did not considered MINUS? The "experts" cannot even decide what the "average" number is. Some consider PLUS to be over a size 6 or 8 in the Fashion industry, some a size 10 and even so far as a size 12.

We all know the facts; the average woman in the US is a size 14. So I guess the PLUS should start there? I know MANY beautiful women well past a 14 and feel terrible as they suffer at the hands of fashion segregation.

V Magazine 2010

I am a mother, entrepreneur, lover of fashion AND I LOVE my body! However I feel that the term PLUS has always separated larger women in a form of fashion segregation. For example: Go into a retail store there is the section for "regular" people (or Minus) but the PLUS section is always labeled ironically with BIG signs and segregated to a different section of the store. The clothes are also ALWAYS different than their MINUS counterparts as well. Why can't the jacket I like in sz 0-8go into a size 12, 14 or 16? one is banished to the plus section to salvage something that is semi stylish, but never the same. To take it a step further if you require a larger size you may even be segregated to a whole other STORE. There is nothing like going shopping with friends and have to make an extra stop so you don't go home empty handed. Don't get me wrong I don't subscribe to the herd mentality either, just because the others shop at store "A" does not mean I have to, but I would like the option. I have went into these "special stores" before with women I adore to hear things like "Off to the fat lady store" and other negative labels and statements. I have looked through the racks and am hard pressed to find anything I would wear. Much of the clothes I have seen are matronly, ill fitting and nothing like the cuts, colors or patterns seen in the store next door for the 'regular' or in the terms set forth above "below average" shoppers. They are also considerably higher priced then their smaller counterparts. I can only guess what the argument might be; "we have to use more material", in this world of foreign labour and mass production, I'm not buying it! "Above average" women are being exploited monetarily because retailers KNOW shopping options are limited.

V Magazine 2010

Every women regardless of her PLUS or MINUS status have different and unique body shapes, carry weight different and have varying features (longer legs, shorter arms, etc). I love being unique but segregated? not so much. Why are the smaller sizes not labelled MINUS with a GIANT sign and placed all in one section? You are a ZERO (size 0) so you go to this rack, etc. Funny enough most of the left over clothes, or the ones that make it to the clearance racks are of the "below average" variety (XS, S, etc.) You would think manufacturers would get the drift by now. I am happy to report that higher end design houses who used to be exclusive to the single digit crowd now are expanding their lines to include their double digit or PLUS size consumer - who buy the way are as beautiful and lovely. It was reported that the consumer will be able to find clothing larger than a size 14 at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue by the likes of; Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, YSL, Alexander McQueen, and Prada. Marc JAcobs was the FIRST designer to 'unofficially' announce that his brand would be creating clothes bigger than a size 14 via twitter. I wonder if Sacks will make women go to a different floor or section for the +14 sizes like the lower end retailers?

Fashion segregation, I feel is actually counter productive to retailers. If I feel empowered, beautiful and fabulous I WILL spend more money and likely return. If I feel segregated, labeled and discouraged I will go home empty handed.

ELLE Magazine 2010

I think women are beautiful at any size, so long as they are healthy. We all know the multitude of health risks associated with being seriously overweight.

So WHY the plus size label anyway? Isn't reading the actual size of the garments label enough? Women know their size in a numerical form (2,6,10,13,14,18,20) so why the extra label of PLUS AND segregated sections?

French ELLE Magazine Cover

I know that there are many women who will argue with me and are happy to be segregated and have the opportunity to shop at a "special store". I'm glad the term PLUS is not as offensive to them as it has always been to me. With our mastery of the English language one would assume that the industry could come up with alternative language or even a different labelling system all together to include everyone and their body shapes and types. I'm a size ME, no PLUS no MINUS ~ just ME. I'm happy that more magazines are using 'above average' models on their covers and in their pages. It is a step in the right direction toward health, positive body images and self acceptance for many of the world's women.

Amber Riley (of GLEE) SAG Red Carpet 2011

CELEBRATE yourself no matter what your size or shape. Don't be discouraged as you try to build your wardrobes. You are each beautiful at any size (PLUS or MINUS) ~ Confidence is the BEST accessory and is always in FASHION!


  1. As always, well written and well said! Your support for "real women" is applauded. Amen Sister!!

  2. Thank you! I think this is a conversation women should be having. True beauty cannot be labeled XO

  3. I absolutely agree, and very well written. I'm a petite, and its so frustrating having the same issues. Our problem is that many brands and manufacturers just shrink everything down to an xxxs and call it petite rather than properly fixing the proportions for a shorter woman. Now I know I'm a very short 4'11'' but I love my hourglass shape and there's NO way my 34D's are going to fit into that. The segregation continues with us as well, we have "petite" sections with literally....a boxy suit and an a line skirt, and those are our options. It's honestly the reason I decided to study Design and launch my own line and give women some real options that are just as beautiful as the "average" girls clothing. I have yet to understand why the industry only caters to this "average" girl when petites and plus make up more than 60% of the population. Their "average" doesn't sound that average to me. Keep up the great posts!

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  5. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment!! I really appreciate your kind and sincere words. You are completely right; sufficient individuals do NEED to be talking about this in an intelligent way! I'm glad you have stumbled upon my blog and I hope you enjoy future posts from Evolution Revolution XOXOX

  6. Wonderful reading! "True beauty cannot be labeled" you hit the nail on the head!!

  7. Gorgeous size clothing for me is the true image of fashion. It's a true image of beauty.

  8. What is the link for the blog you saw on a Fox website, please? And thank you, much of what you said is my sentiments exactly. I honestly feel that it is 100% obvious why the term "plus size" was invented— to separate women into classes and make women over a certain size feel as if they are not as beautiful.

    1. Hi Vanessa!

      Here is the Fox news blog link: (I updated my blog to include it as well)
      Thanks so much for reading and I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my thoughts on this issue


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