Tuesday, 7 July 2015

What Is Plus Size?

Humans exist in so many ways. Bodies are so varied. So how do we determine which category each body belongs to? What is plus size?

To me, plus size isn't a dress size, or a body shape.

To me it's in how you feel.

Trigger Warning: eating disorders and body dysmorphia

As someone who was once a size 12-14, at my lowest weight since my mid-teens, with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, even back then I considered myself to be grossly overweight. I would eat under 250 calories a day and still dress as Princess Fiona for a fancy dress party because I wanted to make a joke out of myself before anyone could make a joke out of me.

Princess Fiona: Once Upon A Time... 2008 to be precise

When I went down a dress size and someone told me they were concerned at how fast it was happening, I thought I was being mocked. I felt out of place in my office of slim girls and would've been more at home among larger ladies because I felt I could relate to them more.

When I thought of myself, I thought of a girl with a big bum, tum and hips and refused to look for clothes in Topshop or River Island because I had convinced myself I'd never fit into their clothes and look good.
Emotionally I was a fat girl.

However if I had mentioned being plus size in the PS communities I see today, I would've faced backlash for not being plus size enough. I would've been accused of attention seeking and banned from Facebook groups, shamed for being too small.

I would've spiraled into a depression, feeling shunned and isolated and like I didn't belong anywhere.

So when I see people suggesting that Plus Size is above a size 18 because "smaller sizes don't have the issues we do," I beg to differ. A size 14 who feels that she is too big to be socially accepted or that shops don't cater for her specific shape or style preference will have the same insecurities and feel the same body shaming that larger sizes do (regardless of whether you believe she's correct or not, whether it's a disorder or not). The issues may be slightly different in nature but they are there, much in the same way a size 24 and a size 34 will have different issues.

We are not Club Plus Size. There is no membership and no criteria for getting past security. If you feel shamed, if you feel you don't fit in with the straight sized crowd, if you feel plus size.... who is anybody else to decide that you're wrong?

You are not shaming larger plus sizes by considering yourself to be above straight-size.

So please, plus size babes, before you react harshly to someone smaller than you calling themselves plus size... stop and think about how they might be feeling in themselves at that moment. Think about how it feels to be shunned because of your size. Remember that we should all support every body, every shape, every size.

Because if we start pushing away smaller sized individuals, we are no better than the individuals who push us away for being big.


  1. This really resonated with me. Even when I was a size 12 I felt plus size, I have always emotionally felt fat, now I am a size 20 I feel the same, I still dislike my body, the only difference is that now other people think it's a legitimate dislike.

  2. This really struck a chord with me too - what a brilliantly honest post. Whilst I am not at the larger end of plus size, my 20s were very much straddling the two and I felt like I had nowhere to go to.

  3. When I was a size 10 and had an ED I felt overweight and disgusting. I refused to wear dresses or pretty tops, constantly wore trousers and hoodies. I felt disgusting. So I can safely say, you can still feel and be plus sized without the matching dress size.

  4. When you say people react harshky in the plus community what you have to remember is that there are people who ARE fat and don't just feel fat, and for them the reality of that stigma is very harsh. While I've never had an eating disorder and I am not here to undermine those experiences, I find it problematic that thin people who don't like the way they look and feel they are larger than they are can compare their experiences of actual fat people who face actual, real discrimination for their sizes.

    For me, fat isn't a feeling. Fat is a reality where I am assaulted, mocked, less likely to be emplyed, paid less when I am, underrepressented.
    Fat people react this way when smaller people do this because fat people try and create safe spaces for themselves, with people who of the same body type, because there is no positive media representation.
    Also consider the vastly negative connotations of people who are smaller claiming they feel fat and then in the same breath talk about how disgusting they felt. While I wouldn't wish those emotions on anyone it is especially unfair to fat people to have to see that from people who are smaller than they are and don't experience the same oppressions they do.

  5. You can be Plus Size and not be fat. You can be fat and not be Plus Size. You can be fat but not feel fat. You can be fat, feel fat and be ok with that (or not). You can be slim but feel fat and be ok with that (or not). Thanks to the body positive movement, I now feel that whatever size I am, and whatever size I feel, I am happy, chilled and celebratory about it. There is beauty to found in all shapes, sizes and ages. Sometimes I like feeling fat, sometimes I like feeling slim, sometimes I like feeling young, sometimes I like feeling old - variety is the spice of life.

  6. This is so bang on the money. People need to be able to find the difference between clothing that is described as plus-size because the numbers are bigger, and the feeling of being larger than everyone around you - which the term plus-size can also represent. I felt plus-sized when I was a size 14, but convention tells me that I was in the normal bracket. Now, as a size 20-22, I guess I am plus-sized in all of societies acceptable terms. Love this, and love you! xxx

  7. Great post hun! You definitely got me thinking! It's easy for us to forget how some of us felt when we were a smaller size I felt the exact same pressures back then as I did now. In some ways it was worse because we had nothing good to wear whilst feeling that way. It true confidence is a journey and we all struggle. Great post hun!!

  8. Thanks for writing this and making me think. Part of me agrees with you, and part with Kerry above (Ruby Thunder). I think it's a really difficult subject which requires a lot of thought, and thanks for starting me off on that. xx