Recently there has been a cultural shift in the fashion world and in advertising. No longer is modelling the sole preserve of thin, tall models. Or of photoshopped images in unrealistic, ridiculous proportions. Now we can see real women of every size and shape. However, which demographic is being celebrated the most? The plus-size woman of course! Although the debate may be raging over who is actually plus size – for most retailers it is size 18+ but for some, it goes down to size 15 – the plus-size label is definitely taking the fashion world by storm. We think it is about time this happened given that in the UK the average size woman is currently a curvy size 16.
Plus Size in The Fashion World
Popular culture tends to flow from the top. Therefore, it is great when young people see plush models such as Tess Holiday and Ashley Graham striding down the catwalks, sending the masses the plus-size message. However, do people consider the plus-size label to be discriminatory or something to celebrate?
We think that you will agree that is a little of both. Plus-size ranges being rolled out by high street stores definitely is cause for celebration, particularly in the shapewear department. However, there are still issues. They include plus-size ranges being hidden in the back part of stores, along with no standardisation for sizes. In lower size ranges there are definitely size discrepancies – an M & S size 10 might not be the same as a Zara size 10. However, the plus-size range is even more confusing. Is a 24W the same thing as a 6X? It is a real struggle.
There is the actual label. Plus-size clothing is defined by Wikipedia as being proportioned for obese or overweight people. That is a major part of this problem. At size 16, it puts most women in the plus-size category. So, is everyone obese these days, or are we just curvier due to improved nutrition, and maybe it is the norm now? Should a plus-size range even exist? Or should the label not be used, and just have all the sizes displayed together instead? Should sizes range from petite up to plus size as part of a continuous flow, with a range that goes from size 6 up to 26? That could definitely prevent lots of frustration and eliminate any stigma that is associated with needing to shop in a plus-size separate section.
Plus Size at Work
Unfortunately, despite the strong push for inclusivity and acceptance, plus-sized women are still faced with plenty of discrimination within the workplace. It is said that in an interview an interviewer makes up her or his mind within the initial 5 minutes of an interview. That can only be based on demeanour and appearance, and there is a sizeism attitude that still exists towards plus-size people.
In fact, LinkedIn research has shown that twenty-five per cent of employees think they have missed out on a promotion or job opportunity due to their weight. So, when the label is perpetuated, it also perpetuates the idea that there is something different about it. Would this change if the label were removed? Whether the label makes a difference or not, hopefully, the push towards inclusivity within the workplace will help bring this kind of discrimination to an end. Maybe what starts out as being a celebration within the plus-size fashion world will help to improve attitudes.