Let’s get something out of the way first, okay? Writing this article makes me mad uncomfortable.
I love having opinions and everything, but on this subject…I really rather not. I don’t feel like I have a right to judge or comment about anyone’s weight or size, let alone ‘the plus size’ issue. And when I was heavier, not a day went by when either someone else or myself was judging me for it. I could have been so much happier if people would have just minded their own business, and so that’s what I try to do when it comes to other people’s weight and appearance.
But come on. We, as Western society, are ALL over weight and size. You see it all the time. Tabloids are on anyone’s case, whether it’s gaining or losing weight: it’s “news”. In real life, I hear heavy girls hatin’ on thin girls (to make themselves feel better) and skinny girls bitching about bigger girls (to make themselves feel better). Newsflash: Ya’ll are all doing the same thing, just from different perspectives. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work.
That little rant aside, this article had already been playing hide and seek in my head for a couple of weeks. Peeking at me when I had ‘a fat day’. Making a quick appearance as I looked at my own ‘before (yoga & juicing)’ pictures. Popping its head up when my best friend lost weight. Again. It’s not often, but I am not above weight and size insecurities every once in a while.
But while weight and size may be something we all may deal with, the arena of women who are bigger (plus size) is one where more battles are happening than in others. They give themselves a tougher time about how they look, and often feel like they’re literally ‘too much’. They have to struggle with not only their own criticism but also with the criticism (or perceived criticism) of others.
And I wanted to give these beauties some support and some advice. I thought about it long and hard. Asked girls who considered themselves plus size for help (thank you – hearts and sparkles and my hat-tips to you). Thought about it some more. Figured out what I wanted to say. Sort of. So here goes.
I’m not going to go into the whole ‘what is plus size’ debacle, because you know what? I don’t know.Realized that I don’t even know what the hell is even going on with the term ‘Plus Size’.
For one thing, you can consider anything from size 14 (UK) plus size. Um, size 14 is 40. That is pretty average last time I checked. Second, it’s just a name attached to numbers. But there are clothing stores that sell items that are actually 14 as a 12 or 10 just so it will sell more. That’s how much we care about the labels in our shirt and pants.
And second, as I read through the e-mails, most of the girls confirmed the main thing I suspected was there: Plus size, for most girls and women, is a feeling. It’s being the biggest girl in your group of friends. It’s not fitting into any jeans at Zara — or at least not beautifully or comfortably enough you want to buy them. It’s being insecure when you walk into the room. It’s not necessarily size – it’s sensation, and self-perception. No matter your size, be it a 12, 14, 16 (which is actually quite average) or an 18 or 20 (which is not so average but still quite common), you feel plus size. With way more negative connotations than necessary. Because plus size in itself is actually fine. Hell, it even has a sweet ring to it.
I’m not going to do the whole thinness-in-media debacle either. I find it boring. I’m also not going to tell you you should be skinny. Yes, I will always tell you to be healthy and have great energy, but I don’t care if you’re a size 12 or a size 2 while doing it. This is just my love and advice for you, whether you’re plus size in the store or plus size in your head.
1. Thinness is not a magical quality that makes someone else better than you.
There, I said it. Please note, this is not bashing of the skinny girls. I think they’re beautiful; I just don’t think the fact that they’re skinny automatically entitles them to the Nobel Peace Prize and/or Grande Scholarship to Perfect Human Being Academy.
You are not inferior to someone just because your clothes are labeled with a different letter than someone else’s S. What I often see is that the bigger girls hide away because they feel their skinny friends deserve more than they do. And that’s crazy.
2. Own Your Space. No more, no less.
In that regard, what I often see (and did myself) is that women who are bigger than average try to make it go away by either shrinking or shouting. They shrink with slouched shoulders, timidity and other body language tricks or they try to become bigger by having lots of bombastics and attitudes.
Things is, you don’t have to make-up, compensate or apologize for your size. You could just own your space – be as you currently are, whatever your size with more self acceptance and less frantics. Once you do that, you give yourself and others a lot more room.
3. Shop in a way that makes you happy, not depressed.
Shopping can be a bit of an ordeal. Pro tip: Don’t shop at stores that make you superdepressed and drive you to do the Master Cleanse so you can fit in their clothes. Some stores have tiny sizes, other stores have unflattering stuff or unhelpful employees. Or a combo of all three. Shopping on-line is great for this; for me it’s not only a great time saver, it also prevents a lot of self loathing. There is actually a lot of beautiful and flattering women’s clothing options in larger sizes, you know. You just gotta know where to look.
4. Focus on yourself.
Sometimes all it takes is a shift in your perspective. What if you started looking at yourself, instead of comparing yourself to others. Especially watch out for comparisons with the waifs on America’s Next Top Model or in your latest Vogue (dammit, I tried so hard to keep the media out of this). I know for a fact that if you start to feel and look good as you, how others look becomes less important.
(On this note…it also really helps to stop judging others on their weight and size. It teaches us to become easier on ourselves. Worth a shot.)
5. Here too, happiness first.
You can be a size 12 and hate your life. You can be a size 2 and hate your life. You can also be a size 2, 12 or 22 and love your life.
Whatever your weight may be, you can be happy or unhappy irregardless of it. A lot of girls think that losing weight will solve all of their problems, but that’s not true. I do not disregard the fact that weight loss can help your self-esteem and health, but you’re still you. With the same problems, only now experiencing them in a different clothing size. So if you can, choose/work on/strive for being happy.
6. Here too, self love first.
Loving yourself, appreciating your body and being kind to yourself goes a very, very long way in body acceptance and taking good care of yourself. Because you do deserve your own love and excellent treatment, whatever your size. It will do wonders for you. Let it rain some Radical Self Love on yourself. It will lift you, make you feel good and help you keep your head up high.
Basically, that sums up the things I would most want to tell any girl who is bigger than average, curvier than her friends, etc. And if I could say only one thing more, it would be this: There is nothing wrong with you.