Is ‘Plus Size’ really better than ‘Size Zero’?

 

This post is a bit of a different one from me. I’m going to try and tackle a bit more of a serious topic than makeup this time. This is something that I have been thinking about for a while and after discussing it with a few people in my life, I decided that actually, it might make an interesting blog post.

I am someone who has suffered with body image issues for most of their life, if not all of it. I am definitely not or have never been ‘skinny’ but I’m also not really ‘fat’, I’m somewhere in the middle. Either way, I hate my body, not a day goes by without me wishing that it looked different to how it does. I know this kind of mentality isn’t healthy, but it’s how I feel.

Now aged 20, I was unfortunate enough to grow up as part of the generation where ‘size zero’ was forced down our throats as the ‘body ideal’. I’m sure we all remember the time that Kate Moss said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” – as if teenage girls needed any more encouragement not to eat. As a twelve year old with curvy genes, who hit puberty early, this expectation was impossible and extremely unhealthy for me, as well as for millions of girls and women out there, many of whom subsequently developed eating disorders and other tragically unhealthy ways of dealing with the pressure to be a ‘size zero’. I’m sure we can all agree that the ‘size zero’ era was not a good one.


When I started to follow the plus size model Ashley
Graham on Instagram I thought she was so refreshing. It felt good to finally see a body shape that I could relate to and to see someone advocating for something other than small thighs and flat chests (a body type that is completely unattainable for myself). I also loved that she lived a healthy lifestyle (working out and eating healthy). But after following her for a few months my opinion of what she was doing slowly started to change. She regularly posts pictures of other ‘plus size’ women/models which is great, it is so important for women to support other women and girls. But where the problem lies is that she isn’t posting pictures of women of her own, healthy size, she is posting pictures of women much much larger. Women who are not overweight, or ‘plus size’, (I’m sorry to have to say this but…) they are obese.

Seeing all of this on my Instagram feed got me thinking – how is this ‘plus size’ era any better than the ‘size zero’ era? Being underweight, malnourished or worse, anorexic, is extremely dangerous to health and in some tragic cases can even be fatal. So clearly, filling women’s heads with the idea that they have to be extremely skinny is very problematic. But for the same token being very overweight or obese is also extremely unhealthy, it is dangerous to health, and puts you at a much higher risk for so many health problems (such as heart problems and diabetes) which can also be fatal. So how is filling women’s heads with the idea that they should be obese any less problematic? Both obesity and anorexia are health problems, neither should be advocated and both should be tackled.

 

Not only is it DANGEROUS to be extremely overweight but for many people out there it is also unattainable. Many people are equipped with extremely high metabolisms which will not physically allow them to become overweight. Take my best friend Emma for example, she loves food, dislikes exercise but due to her naturally high metabolism has never been above a UK size 6/8. Just as being ‘size zero’ was unattainable for me, being ‘plus size’ is an unattainable body for Emma. How is what Ashley Graham and the ‘plus size’ advocates are saying to Emma any better that what Kate Moss and the ‘size zero’ advocates were saying to me?

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Emma
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Emma and I

There needs to be change and it needs to happen now. We’ve tried both ends of the spectrum and we’ve seen that neither of them work. We need to get to a stage where everyone and every industry is advocating for health. We need to be showing women one body type and one body type only – healthy.  Our catwalks and media campaigns should be filled with women who are clinically healthy and not ‘underweight’ or ‘obese’. Everyone has bodies of different shapes and sizes but healthy is a body type that all women can attain. Eating right and exercising is something that everybody can do – myself and Emma included. It shouldn’t be about looking a certain way or being a certain size, it should be about living a certain life. Health doesn’t have a size, you can be a small, medium or large healthy person, but as long as you’re looking after your body that is what matters.

It’s not all bad, there are people in the world doing it right. I think Jennifer Lawrence has done/said some amazing things for women and their body issues. I’m also a huge fan of the Australian model Steph Claire Smith. She (and Laura Henshaw) is the type of model that women and girls today need to see more of. Yes, she’s small, but not because she starves herself,  because she eats right, exercises and she advocates health. She doesn’t advocate an unhealthy, unattainable body type like Kate Moss or Ashley Graham, she advocates a healthy, attainable lifestyle. I wish there was more people like Steph Claire Smith and Jennifer Lawrence in the world when I was growing up, then maybe today I would have a healthier body and be happier with it.

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