Plus-Size Representation Still Lacking in Modern Media

Melanie Pineda, Staff Writer

Overweight women are stereotyped into many roles — the end of a punchline, the victim of verbal harassment and the unattractive one in a group of friends. This country’s own president-elect has blatantly expressed his opinions on women’s appearances, including fat-shaming Miss Universe Alicia Machado on camera. Now more than ever, the media and the fashion industry as a whole must begin to take responsibility over the cruel rhetoric of fat-shaming and shine a light over one of the most underrepresented groups in media — fat women.

The ignorance surrounding shaming curvy women can be seen everywhere we look. Advertisements constantly display thin women as the ideal standard and fat women as the unappealing alternative. Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones struggled to find someone to design her dress for the premiere of her movie — in part because of her size. Time and time again these subliminal messages attempt to tell people that because being fat is different, it should not be accepted. Not only do these negative ideas spread an offensive stigma, but they also affect women mentally. Academic studies have shown that women tend to overeat as a result of stressing about their weight.

The average size of American women has grown to size 16 in the past few years. While some may argue that embracing this size could result in normalizing overweight bodies, the fact of the matter is that ignoring these women means ignoring major problems within the fashion industry. Women’s sizing in general is a fairly controversial topic, as over the years size has been shown to differ too much to claim that any one number can describe the hundreds of body types that attempt to squeeze into the same pair of inaccurately marked jeans. When a size 8 measurement could vary up to five inches between designers, the allegation that showing larger sizes encourages obesity is a ridiculous notion in itself. Why should curvy girls be seen as an inconvenience when the entire sizing system is currently built against them, obsessing morbidly on sizes well below an already unhealthy size 0?

In a society that has for too long obsessed over trying to reach the perfect beach body, a change in perspective is much needed. Unrealistic beauty standards forced by mass media shuts out the thousands of women living in this country who should not by any means feel pressured to change their appearances in order to feel attractive. If the media is meant to reflect the people of our society, and every body type is different, then each one must be represented in a way that does not demand any more or less of women than who they are.

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Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email Melanie Pineda at [email protected]

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3 COMMENTS

  1. A few things:

    you speak out against judging people by their size and never mention how unhealthy being overweight to obese can be. Yet you allow yourself to judge “size zero” as unhealthy, which goes against everything you’re saying.

    You are using the clothing industry as an example here and this is the worst thing to use, much like airplane seating space. Sizing up a clothing line isn’t as easy as just “right-click/ expand”. Designers have to take into account how fat falls and how it affects posture and body composition which makes designing clothes for obese people a pain in the ass and a lot of extra work which not everyone is willing to do for free. This means that not only are “plus-sized” clothes more expensive to make in terms of time spent designing, they also require their own complete line of assembly and crafting along with more material. And all of this doesn’t even take into account vanity sizing brands which try to appeal to women by pandering to their ego.

    Also, we mostly banned cigarettes in the media for health reasons. Why would we try to represent morbidly obese people more when we know obesity wreaks havoc on the body and leads to slow painful death in bariatric équipent ?

  2. The claims in this article aren’t to encourage unhealthy behavior and make fat the new thin. It’s to be open to people of all sizes including thin ones. The goal of size acceptance isn’t to say its all right to eat junk food all day. It’s to encourage health AND acceptance. The desire to be thin has actually led to weight gain and unhealthy behaviors. Going about ignoring people of size will actually make things worse and make the problem worse. The risks about obesity have been exaggerated. It’s stress, dieting and weight loss surgeries that can complicate risks. Adding in new mannequins won’t mean there are only clothes for plus-sized people. There are still going to be thin models in the world of size acceptance. We need media that has women of different builds seen as beautiful. We need a world where thin women aren’t the only image of beauty we see in magazines, comics, cartoons, shows, movies, etc. The goal of size acceptance is to encourage health and acceptance, it is better than our thin obssessed culture which has done more harm than good. There can be thin models, just adding plus-sized models as well is one of the many hopes of this important movement.

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