Sizeism in plus size circles

Hello loves.

I have talked in the past about how there are less advantages to being on the larger end of plus size, and will do so again. First though, this post isn't meant to be divisive. My opinion is that the plus size community as a whole (and its allies) is stronger together, but that doesn't mean I'm going to ignore injustices when I see them.

I've had a bit of an epiphany about WHY sizeism within plus size circles bothers me so much, and I want to share that in case it helps anyone else.

It's a fact that there's less choice in clothing available to larger plus sizes. With blogging in particular, bodies over a size 24 are less popular with those who are in a position to give out opportunities: the decision makers, the PRs, the companies who want to sell clothes. I know which blogs are media darlings, which bloggers are fĂȘted, and they're usually on the smaller side of plus size (typically size 24 or below.) Even in America (where some plus size bloggers have a monumental following) rarely will you see a large, large woman doing extremely well for herself (unless of course she has a tiny waist in comparison to her boobs & bum.) Of course, this lack of equal representation in blogging has repercussions way beyond blogging - lest anyone think this is a 'WAAAAAAIIII MEEE?' about lack of blogging opportunities. If I feel that things are unbalanced in size representation (as a fairly confident blogger) how are ordinary upper plus size women supposed to feel?! They might look to bloggers for confidence and inspiration that they don't see in the media, and even plus size blogging can paint a distorted picture of 'acceptable' fatness.

The epiphany

A comment on my personal Facebook wall about Simply Be selling clothes up to a size 32 but not using models of that size helped me realise what it is about sizeism which REALLY pisses me off. (This happened a few months ago but this post has been in drafts until I expanded upon it.)

My friend said: It jabs my (rather sizeable) ass that a plus size range will emphasise the fact that they sell clothes up to a size 32; I've never seen anybody that wears that size modelling it.

This is what I replied: I don't think they've had anyone over a 24-26 modelling for them, even in the blogger campaigns. Even in plus size fashion you can be too plus size to be 'acceptable'. Echoing life, the smaller you are the more palatable you will likely be, even in plus size blogging. I've boycotted Simply Be because they're doing so many 'up to size 26' ranges and have for sale more in a size 12 than they do for a size 32, for example, and this from a supposedly plus size retailer. For this and so many other reasons I feel meh about plus size fashion at the moment, meh about size equality, meh about bigotry within a genre you'd expect to find none, and meh about the constructs of society that this is all based upon. You'd assume you'd be free from diet culture and 'thinner is best' in plus size blogging, but it's as infested with it as anywhere else (not that many will come out and say that mind, as you'll be accused of being bitter.)

And in that throwaway comment, I accidentally hit the nail on the head. For months I've been trying to find out WHY I care so much about this. It's because I expected things to be different in 'plus size world' than in the rest of society, but we're still subject to the same rules as everyone else. I'm an idealist and I want things to be different, but they aren't. Not yet. I feel a world crafted around us should dance to our tune, but it doesn't because even in this microcosm of society we're still judged on our body size.

We have the preference for smaller bodies hard-wired into us virtually from birth - in tv, in films, in music, in advertisements. Everywhere that bodies are showcased we're taught that being slim is a cachet, is enviable, that success comes easiest to those who aren't fat. We are gently cajoled into loving thin bodies, and shown through mockery that certain bodies are only ever acceptable as a punchline. Yes, we are as a whole working hard against this, and there are many phenomenal fat activists out there who attack the status quo, day in day out, unfailingly. I dip my toe in now and then, but bow down to these brave women, who have death and rape threats thrown at them on a daily basis.

Expect more

I expect better from the opportunity givers. I expect more than the same ol' bodies every time or the same kind of bodies every time.

I expect more from the clothing manufacturers, who cater to the same kinds of bodies, leaving others out in the cold. I rail against this with every fibre of my being because it shouldn't be like this, but it is. We kid ourselves that the rules are different in the plus size world, but they aren't. Deep down everything runs off the same score sheet, and I'm angry because I've expected better this whole time. 

You'd imagine in a world where there are dozens of empowered, feisty and radical women we would be free of diet culture, but we aren't. It's everywhere, and it's totally their choice, their bodies. I know of several bloggers dieting, because they know what I do - that their life and clothing choices will be easier when they're thinner. It's actually really hard to try and shirk off diet culture when it's prized in the whole of society and brought into the plus size world, too, but I get it. I so get it. I'm not angry when fat people want to lose weight because they want a better/easier life. I'm angry because I wish people were judged on an entirely different basis.

We all know in real life away from the plus size world that thinness is prized, elevated, adored, and bigger bodies are held in less esteem, mocked, and that horrible attributes like lazy and stupid are attached to our bodies. We know that we are trying really hard to negate that with body positivity coming out of our hoo-has but still. We've come a way, but we still have a way to go.

How YOU can help

If you have the confidence, put your body out there, especially if you're over a size 24. Representation is SO important. Join Tumblr, where there's a vibrant fat positive community, and not just the uber-glossy 'I'm a fairy prancing through the woods accidentally being photogenic' type photo sharers either, but dirty mirror selfie, piles of clothes on the floor photo sharers.

Start a blog. It's the best thing I ever did and a constant source of joy (and consternation, and hard work, and a lot of other things, but it's so good.)

If you're under a size 24 and want to help, use your influence. Why is it a friend a size bigger than you can't wear the same dress? These are questions we should be asking retailers, because we all know the REAL question is 'Why do you think some women aren't worth dressing?'

Speak up for others, because you never know what might happen in the future. Your body might change, and you might end up needing the size you can't get, and then you'll wish you'd stood in solidarity with your bigger sisters and made a noise. Make a noise now. Tweet, email, ask the uncomfortable questions. You'll get fobbed off anyway because no one wants to say 'Uh, those people have a bit too much going on and we really don't want them to be seen wearing our clothes.' But do it anyway.

Thanks for reading. Tell me your thoughts?

Leah xoxo

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