Friend Friday: Size (and don’t call me a fatshionista)


Last week was the first time that I participated in ModlyChic’s Friend Friday series. I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts on “Blogger Privacy” and was looking forward to learning what the topic for this week was. I was absolutely elated when I found out it was “Size.”

This is a topic that has already come up on my blog a number of times. I shared some of my own thoughts early on when I wrote “Size 14 is Not Fat Either – It’s Invisible.” Then, just this past week, this post about a Cosmopolitan Australia photoshoot featuring sisters Courtney and Laura Wells really led to some great discussions in the comments. When I found out what this week’s topic was I decided to hold my own responses to those comments for this post.

This isn’t a new subject by any means, but it seems like lately it has really dominated the news. According to this recent New York Times piece by Ginia Bellafante, the shift “dates to last fall, when Glamour ran a small picture of a 5-foot-11, 180-pound model comfortably exposing her paunch. So unusual was the appearance of belly fat in this context that the magazine received thousands of letters and comments, most of them roaring with support.” The response was so great, in fact, that they began featuring more plus-sized women and printed the photo of Lizzie Miller again in their most recent issue.

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A few month’s after the Glamour photo generated buzz, Lane Bryant caused a stir with their television ad for Cacique, its lingerie line. The ad, starring model Ashley Graham, was labeled as too risqué by ABC and Fox due to “excessive cleavage.” There was ample cleavage in the ad, yes, but the product being featured provided more coverage than what you’d see in a typical Victoria’s Secret spot. The problem was the plus-sized model. Both networks eventually aired the ads in some form, but not until Lane Bryant accused them of being “sizeist.


This past January, V Magazine featured five plus-sized beauties in a story entitled “Curves Ahead” in its size issue. Meanwhile, the popularity of Mad Men has resulted in the stunning Christina Hendricks gracing numerous magazine covers, including the July/August Health Magazine I just picked up.

In July, the New York City location of Saks Fifth Avenue announced that it is piloting a program that will have them selling a limited number of plus-sized clothing with high-end designerlabels:

“After recent review, we concluded there are customers who desire designer clothing in sizes that are not currently available in our stores. To meet their needs, Saks Fifth Avenue has worked with certain well-known designers, and for fall this year we will offer some designer brands up to size 18 in select Saks Fifth Avenue locations.”

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Most recently, Robert Duffy, the business partner of Marc Jacobs, broke the news via twitter that Marc Jacobs would be designing a plus-sized line. Although there are other high-end designers out there who have some plus-sized offering, like Rachel Pally and Dolce & Gabbana, Jacobs would be the first major label to make a significant impact in the “plus-sized” world. Sounds like good news, no?

The New York Times article I mentioned above is entitled “Plus-Size Wars.” Although the title refers more to the roadblocks between supply and demand for plus-sized clothing, the true war zone can be found in the reader comment area. Here are just a few worth noting:

John: “Anything larger than a size 12 should only be made in sweatpants material.”

mark in Minn: “Turn off your ac, get sweaty, put down the remote, stop drinking gallons of soda pop, and go outside.”
JB: “Should we really be encouraging people to stay fat in our society by tacitly approving it by giving them more choices of what to wear?”

Sherry: Personally, I hate that society would glamorize or promote acceptance of obesity. If you can’t find clothes to fit you – exercise, eat right and hopefully lose weight… I hope the fashion industry continues to struggle trying to dress the overweight, success would only mean enabling bad lifestyle choices.

I think those are a perfect lead-in to today’s questions:

  1. Should someone’s size stop them from fashion blogging or having a voice in the community? Absolutely not. Size should never keep someone from doing anything, least of all fashion blogging. Despite what the fashion industry might try to tell us, being fashionable doesn’t start with a size 00 and stop at size 10/12.Regardless of your shape OR size, your voice has a right to be heard. The fact of the matter is, no matter what size you are, there will always, always, be other women out there who can relate to you. So why wouldn’t you add your own distinct voice to the conversation?

  2. In your opinion, can the term “curvy” and “plus-sized” be used interchangeably when it comes to fashion? In my opinion, terms like these are a part of the problem. Curvy. Plus-Sized. Straight. What exactly do these terms mean? In the fashion industry, models are either “straight-” or “plus-sized.” How on earth can there only be two categories for the endless shapes and sizes women come in? The day he announced Marc Jacobs upcoming line, Robert Duffy even admitted he doesn’t like the label “plus size.” Then again, we all know that what is considered “plus size” to the fashion industry is not “plus-sized’ by real world standards.

    Then, there is the blogosphere. I admit I like to use the word curvy. I use it because I relate to it. I have an hourglass figure. I am a US size 14. And I am curvy. So I use the word curvy. I also use the word “plus-size” because it’s the real-world standard for a size 14 and above. I’ve seen other “plus-size” bloggers out refer to themselves “curvy fashionistas.” And I absolutely abhor the word “fatshionista”. Ick. I know it’s supposed to be cute, but it has an extremely negative connotation to me. Why bring more negativity to the fold? There is enough negativity around this topic without that label.

    Personally, I prefer terms that describe shape. If I tell you I am a size 14, what picture does that paint? Do you have any clue what my figure looks like? No. But if I tell you that I am an hourglass, apple, pear, etc. you at least have some idea of my shape.

    On the flip-side, in the real-world, someone can be plus-sized and not be curvy. Someone can also be a size 0 and have curves. Look at Scarlett Johansson. She has some seriously dangerous curves on her, but she is tiny. In addition, a Size 12/14 may be considered plus-size by industry standards but is average by statistical standards.

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    So – to answer your original question – no, the terms shouldn’t be used interchangeably, although they often are.

  3. Many people make the argument that catering to plus sized women would promote being overweight as “okay”. What do you think? Should more designers be catering to plus size women? The comments I quoted above illustrate exactly this phenomena, yet I think this argument is as ridiculous as the argument that size 00 clothing promotes anorexia. There is a different between being plus-sized and being obese. Being healthy is what is important – you can be a size 0 and not have an eating disorder, and you can be plus-sized and be in perfectly good health.The same is true for the reverse. Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they are healthy. People carry their weight differently. They have curves in different places. They are different heights. I am 5’8 and a size 14. Most of my weight is in my T & A. Actress Liv Tyler is a Size 14 and 5’10. In all likelihood, we are both probably healthier than the 4’9 person who is also a size 14. Probably. But we all deserve to have something to wear.

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    There is such a stigma nowadays about being “plus-sized” and the fashion industry often makes it worse. For example, I absolutely abhor some of the things that come out of Karl Lagerfield’s mouth. When he learned of German magazine Brigitte’s decision to use “ordinary” women in their fashion shoots he said their decision was driven by “fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly”.


    A 2009 LA Times piece states: “When Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, who spent most of his adult life battling a serious weight problem, created a capsule collection for H&M in 2004, the newly svelte designer was incensed that the retailer manufactured the collection in larger sizes. “What I designed was fashion for slender and slim people,” he said. And in an interview in the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar, he sniffed, “The body has to be impeccable… if it’s not, buy small sizes and less food.”

    Again, wow. Is it any surprise so many plus-sized women feel invisible when some high-fashion designers think like that?

    The fact of the matter is there is a demand for these pieces.

    Numerous survey results have indicated that the average size of an American woman is a 14. Yet any plus-sized woman can tell you that the availability of Size 14 and up clothing is limited – and designer pieces in size 14 and up are SEVERELY limited. Think needle in haystack limited.

    The stigma surrounding plus-sized clothing lines doesn’t come from the worry that such a line would promote being overweight, or that their would be a lack of demand. It comes from a worry that it will cost the company too much to produce. The NYT piece explains that the development of a plus-size line would be more costly because the design and production process gets more complicated as proportions and body ratios change with increased sizes. Perhaps this is true, but I would argue that not all 0-2-4-6-8-10 women have the exact same body type. They don’t come from one mold. They just have much MUCH more to choose from.


    There is no doubt about it: the plus-sized market is commercially viable and largely untapped. There is demand, but little supply. It’s a starving market waiting for a designer like Marc Jacobs.

  4. Should the mainstream fashion industry be showcasing more plus size models? Women are diverse. We come in all colors, shapes and sizes. The mainstream fashion industry should be showcasing models that represent these different types of women. It seems that this is already happening with greater frequency, and hopefully this trend will continue to increase. The beautiful Crystal Renn (a plus-size in the modeling world, but not in the real-world) walked the runway in the Spring/Summer 2011 Chanel resort show (perhaps Lagerfield is slowly changing his opinion on the subject). Mark Fast’s decision to use UK Size 14 women during London Fashion Week to showcase his creations was met with both applause and condemnation. One of his stylists and his creative director quit as a result of the move, while others lauded the runway show.


    I am a huge fan of the Marc Jacobs-designed AW2010 Louis Vuitton collection and loved the images from the catwalk show. The line itself is extraordinary, and the models were different shapes and sizes. I was STUNNED to read that models Laetitia Casta, Karolina Kurkova and Adriana Lima are generally considered too plump for catwalk work. Seriously?! Too plump?

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    Maybe the mainstream industry shouldn’t just focus on featuring more plus-sized models – maybe they should also focus on creating realistic standards.

  5. For you personally, how do you view your size, the struggle with it through the years, your ideal size, etc. Again, this is something I have already addressed before, both here, and here. In brief: I am happy with my size 14 body. I know my body type can be categorized as everything from plus-sized, fat and big-boned to curvy, voluptuous and womanly. It all depends on who you ask. But I am a 34 year-old woman, not an impressionable young girl. I am healthy, self confident and I have a positive self-image, so none of the characterizations and generalizations about size mean anything to me.

    I also think it is important to know your body, and to be aware of what works for you and what doesn’t. That in itself will make you more confident. I don’t have an “ideal” size. I just want to be healthy. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind losing a few inches here and there, but I do eat healthy, and I do work out regularly, and it just isn’t happening. My metabolism doesn’t want to cooperate with me. So I accept the size I am right now, and if I lose some inches down the road, that will be a nice surprise. Regardless, my size doesn’t define me. Size doesn’t define anyone.

Final thoughts: at the beginning of this blog entry I mentioned that there were some great reader comments on my earlier post on Courtney and Laura Wells. Here are two of those comments to reflect on:

Fashion Butter:”What makes me sad in all of this mess is that us women seem to enjoy picking teams about everything just to tear each other apart. This mentality extends far beyond the plus size/skinny debate, I have noticed that we can be very quick to negatively label other women when it comes to almost anything in life – friendships, relationships, careers, raising children, etc. In a perfect world, I wish that we could all be a little more self-aware and be more supportive of each other.”

A Brit Greek:”…We all have it in us to be judgmental and are quick to fire an opinion about everything you have mentioned, it’s a shame the media doesn’t help much either – by labeling, criticizing, telling us what they think is right half the time. We’re all unique individuals, no-ones perfect! “Those who have not yet accepted their own imperfection are the first ones to judge and criticize the faults of others…”

Applause for these two ladies, please.

And I leave you with this quote from Sophia Loren:

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful
than the belief that she is beautiful.”

All images courtesy of Google Images.

{ 31 comments… add one }

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  • Collette Osuna August 18, 2010, 10:30 PM

    Love your post….all so very true. I found your blog on IFB..nice to meet you:)

  • lyddiegal August 14, 2010, 5:13 PM

    You have covered so much in this post — and I know this subject can be come so heated, and people can get so nasty. The only thing that every woman wants, no matter what her size, is to feel beautiful, and be able to shop and buy clothes that fit. I don't care about the politics, or how unhealthy you are, at either end of the scale, no one has the right to deny this.

    and curvy fashionista, yeah, that's awful.

  • Hannah Domingo August 14, 2010, 10:36 AM

    I think this post is brilliant, a really enjoyable and informative read.

    Fashion Butter your comments are so true I studied journalism and have always loved fashion yet when I told a close friend that I wanted to be a fashion writer her response was "don't you have to be slim to work in fashion"

  • Julianna Martinez August 13, 2010, 11:05 PM

    Wow, you hit this one out of the park. Great in depth answers to some pretty controversial questions. I totally agree with you on EVERYTHING! I love when that happens because now I don't have to repost lol

  • Casee Marie August 13, 2010, 10:49 PM

    This post is positively gorgeous, as your posts always are. I was so inspired by this theme – and we had some very similar answers! That makes me rather proud, because I really admire your viewpoints and your confidence. Thank you so much for all the information in here, as well. The links were great – especially the V Magazine shoot. It inspired me beyond words. I also appreciate your mentioning Karl Lagerfeld's comments. I promptly went over to Twitter and "unfollowed" him (yes, I'm silly like that) because those comments served as a reminder that I do not like, appreciate or support his viewpoints. I also had no idea that Liv Tyler is a size 14! I'm lost somewhere between a 12 and 14 but I certainly don't have her legs. Inspiring nontheless. 🙂

    Many many thanks for this post! I'm sure I'll be bookmarking it and coming back to experience it over and over again.

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:26 PM

    I can't believe it's even a question. LOL I guess that is the type of society we live in.

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:24 PM

    Thanks T 🙂 The comment that you made on that last post really got to me. The negativity. The labels. The cattiness. It's true that instead of supporting one another like we should, we (women) seem to live to knock each other down. We are our own worst enemies.

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:21 PM

    Oh wow – thank you! Every time I blogger I follow starts to follow me I get speechless 🙂 I am honored! Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:20 PM

    Thanks! Have a lovely weekend!

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:20 PM

    Thanks V – and I second all of the points you made on your VLOG! There is no doubt that the two of us are really passionate about this subject, and as usual, we are right on the same page.

    There are so many different layers to this debate, but it always seems to come back to a lack of understanding and ignorance on the part of the naysayers (like Lagerfield). I was surprised when he started to use Crystal Renn for Chanel shows and I don't really buy that it's in good will. It reeks of a publicity stunt.

  • Kristin August 13, 2010, 10:15 PM

    You hit the nail on the head! I concur with you and FB. We all deserve to be clothed!

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:15 PM

    Thank you for visiting! 🙂

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:14 PM

    Agreed. I think all "plus-sized" women want is the same choices that smaller women have. Every body is different, it doesn't matter if someone is a size 0 or a 6 or a 14 like you and I. But the 0's and 6's of the world's have more choices than we do. We aren't represented fairly at all.

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:10 PM

    Thanks Tanvi!

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:10 PM

    Thank you! I always hate hearing stories like that. I can't imagine what it would be like working in this industry and having to deal with these unrealistic standards, on top of everyday job-stresses. Self-acceptance and self-confidence are hard enough to obtain in the real (outside of work) world!

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:05 PM

    Thank YOU for being the mastermind behind this Friend Friday series. I love the topics you come up with each week – they provide real food for thought!

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:04 PM

    Thank you so much! The comments on this post are making me blush.

    I really feel that everyone who participated in this Friend Friday topic is on the same page. As soon as I saw the email from katy I knew there would be some great points made all around, and it didn't disappoint.

  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:02 PM


  • Beautifully Invisible August 13, 2010, 10:02 PM

    Thank you so much! Sometimes I feel like I just keep repeating myself where this topic is concerned, so it's nice to know my opinions still come across as well-argued and reasoned 🙂 I think confidence really is the key, but when you live in a world where beauty standards are so skewed, is it any surprise so many women have low self-esteem?

  • Marta August 13, 2010, 7:06 PM

    This post is fantastic! Your blog has become one I visit on a daily basis because you present well-argued and reasoned arguments. I wish I could provide some sort of follow-up to your argument or some discussion, but really, you've said it really well. And kudos for finishing it off with ""Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful." – because, at times, that's what will keep anybody going in a size-scrutinized world, confidence and belief in self.

  • kristy August 13, 2010, 7:02 PM

    "There is a different between being plus-sized and being obese. Being healthy is what is important – you can be a size 0 and not have an eating disorder, and you can be plus-sized and be in perfectly good health. The same is true for the reverse. Just because someone is thin doesn't mean they are healthy."

    a perfectly made point. love this post darling, great job!

  • daisybabie August 13, 2010, 6:13 PM

    abso-friggin-wonderful post, hon! sigh. Uncle Karl. he's like that senile relative, we all have one, who spews crazy shite out. even if it is his opinions which he's entitled to, how mentally thick can one be? i can't express how truly special your post is. the points you make, the sources you refer to, the examples you give….brilliant all around. kudos!

  • Katy_rose1 August 13, 2010, 2:09 PM

    Wow! This is such a well thought out post. I love it. (you should submit it for IFB's Links a la Mode for this week!) I had no idea about Liv either, but she is a great example of the ability to look stunning at any size. Thanks for participating. – Katy

  • A Brit Greek August 13, 2010, 1:20 PM

    This post is truly fantastic, well-written, and it was great reading your thoughts on this topic lovely. Having worked in various areas of the fashion industry for close to a decade now, I've seen some work colleagues crippled by the thin phenomena… it's so sad, but even sadder when they can't admit there's a problem and see it. On entering the fashion industry and fresh from graduating, my self confidence got knocked a few times – but that only made me stronger & determined as a person. As long as you have self acceptance/confidence – size, colour, height, weight etc, doesn't matter!


  • Tanvi August 13, 2010, 12:37 PM

    Great Post! Agree with you on all counts!

  • MJ August 13, 2010, 11:32 AM

    I agree with everyone else on here that they way you went about this Friend Friday was awesome! Your answers were soo on point, especially about the options of clothing when it comes to sizes bigger than 14. I've gone from an 18 to a borderline 14, and I'm still limited in finding clothing to wear! And when I do find it, why does it cost an arm and a leg? So I have to pay extra for my curves that I was born with?? That's insane!

  • Lee Oliveira August 13, 2010, 10:28 AM

    Loved the way you have done this post. Great blog.
    Definitely coming back

  • Grit and Glamour August 13, 2010, 10:24 AM

    Excellent, excellent responses and points. I second you on all of it. The judgments and snarky comments (a la Karl…yeah, whatever, do NOT love him or Chanel) are so ridiculously narrow-minded, it's brain-burning. To assume extra weight is only the result of laziness and overeating shows just how ignorant and pompous he and many are. What a massively inappropriate and inaccurate statement to make. Even if I could afford Chanel, I'd snub it on that alone.

    ♥ V

  • Emily Knightley August 13, 2010, 9:00 AM

    Wow! This is such a well written post. Love your style 🙂 Happy Friday, xx

  • Jemina August 13, 2010, 8:11 AM

    Amazing post, why I only just found your blog is beyond me
    You are insightful, gifted and talented, and oh my you are just beyond beyond
    Consider me your new stalker ahem.. 🙂 follower

    Sending LOVE HUGS and KISSES your way, and wishing you the most fabulous weekend


  • fashion butter August 13, 2010, 6:59 AM

    Great answers. And I had no idea about Liv!

    This is my favorite line – sums it all up perfectly.

    "But we all deserve to have something to wear."

    I am tweeting this.