When people think of models they typically think of tall, stick-thin women who fit into a size 0, but the recent rise to fame of models such as Ashley Graham and Robyn Lawly, has led to a redefinition of what it means to be a model. These women are what mainstream media calls “plus size models” which is generally defined as being sizes 12 and up, but sometimes models who are size 6 are called “plus size.”
So, if there aren’t cohesive standards that define what it means to be “plus size,” how are we supposed to differentiate between “plus size” models and “regular” models? Do we really need the label at all? We’ve gathered the views of some of our favorite celebrities who think that the plus size label is unnecessary and actually harmful.
In early April, Amy Schumer spoke out on her Instagram about how Glamour Magazine had included her in an issue with other “plus size” women, insinuating that they include her in the category. Schumer wrote on her Instagram, “Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8… Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size?”
She elaborated later on Jimmy Fallon by saying, “But what I learned is that people really don’t like being classified by plus-sized. We don’t need these labels. We don’t need them.” She believes that since being called “plus size” is still considered a negative thing and therefore doesn’t make the strides towards body positivity that many think it does, we shouldn’t use the label at all.
Lena Dunham outwardly supported Schumer’s views by giving quotes like “fashion should be for all women.” She also participated in one of Schumer’s most recent sketches called “Size 12.” Please drop everything and give this a watch.
Dunham takes the matter further by saying that although she believes that the label shouldn’t be used, because the fashion world continues to use it, she thinks it is important for women to know: “There’s nothing wrong with being any size! As long as you feel comfortable with yourself — even if you don’t feel comfortable with yourself! — there’s nothing wrong with being any size.”
Melissa McCarthy wrote on her Instagram, “We have to stop categorizing and judging women based on their bodies. We are teaching young girls to strive for unattainable perfection instead of feeling healthy and happy in their own skin. ‘Imagine we are linked not ranked’ – Gloria Steinem.”
McCarthy’s message about not categorizing women fits in perfectly with Schumer and Dunham’s arguments. Categorizing doesn’t help, it only exacerbates existing body image issues. Her quote by feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, hammers this point home. McCarthy has also been quoted explaining that by categorizing a person as “plus size” you are telling them, “You’re not really worthy.”
After gracing the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, model Ashley Graham is quickly becoming a household name. She also happens to be considered a “plus size” model. Although she acknowledges that the “plus size” industry was integral in her rise to fame, Graham asserts “I don’t want to be called a label, I want to be called a model.”
She expands on this by explaining that although many women like the “plus size” label because they like the community it creates, she “never thought of it as a positive word, and I think there’s a huge division between straight-size models and plus-size models…We’re just always looked at as tokens.”
J-Law doesn’t explicitly speak about the plus-size label, but in a recent interview with Harpers Bazaar, she did have a lot to say about labels:
“I would like us to make a new normal-body type… Everybody says, ‘We love that there is somebody with a normal body!’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t feel like I have a normal body.’ I do Pilates every day. I eat, but I work out a lot more than a normal person. I think we’ve gotten so used to underweight that when you are a normal weight it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, she’s curvy.’ Which is crazy. The bare minimum, just for me, would be to up the ante.”
In this quote, Lawrence is questioning what it means to have a “normal” body, which is at the core of the argument against labeling models as “plus size.” There is no “normal” so why should we label other body types?
Trainor makes it clear that she agrees with other celebrities who are against the plus-size label. She says “I’ve always hated the word “plus-size.” It bugs me.. [They’re] a big part of our society, women who are size 14, and how are you going to criticize us? The word “plus-sized” should be gone. “
She, like many others on this list, believes that the term alienates and puts down a huge population of people.
Tyra is the queen of the modeling world in my book, so the fact that she doesn’t like the term “plus-size” is a big deal. She told HuffPost Style years ago, “I don’t want to use the term ‘plus-size,’ because, to me, what the hell is that? It just doesn’t have a positive connotation to it. I tend to not use it.”
So there we have it, the “plus size” label isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Yes, some people argue that it is good because it creates awareness of larger problem in the modelling industry and in society as a whole, but does labeling an entire group with a relatively negative label really fix that problem? These celebrities don’t think so.