I was flipping through a flyer I received in the mail the other day for Halloween costumes and was honestly surprised when I came across pictures of “plus-size costumes.” Don’t get me wrong. I am all for costumes coming in all shapes and sizes (especially because traditionally they have been made for skinny girls who can fit into skimpy little outfits), but I think it is really weird that these women are considered “plus-size.” I can see why it is a justifiable label in high fashion runway modeling. After all, a size 12 IS plus-sized compared to a Size 0, but, in the scope of every day normal life, the women featured in this particular catalog look more like average size to me.
This gets into my whole problem with the plus-size label in general. I am thrilled that more and more designers are seeing it necessary to make cute clothes for women of all shapes and sizes, but calling a woman plus-size, a woman who is closer to what most women look like in this country, seems wrong to me. By calling an averaged-sized woman “plus-size,” we are directly normalizing thin as if it is what we should all look like. We are saying that being thinner is more socially acceptable and plus-size is more out of the norm. This is interesting to me. If the majority of women in this country look like these so called “plus-size” women featured in the catalog, then, in actuality, the plus-size woman is far more “normal” than she is abnormal, and the thinner-than-average-woman would actually be the one we would label.
Can you imagine, if you saw a magazine with a section for “bite-size” or “thinner-than-average” women? That would be crazy! So, why do we do it with “plus-size?” For those of you who follow this blog, you know that we don’t believe in labels, period. My discussion of “plus-size” is only to make the point that giving something a label like this isolates the women who fall under the plus-size category and further normalizes the idea that thin is the norm (when, in reality, it isn’t).
But nonetheless, labels seem to be very important to our society. We feel more comfortable when we can categorize people and put them in a box. That way, we can more easily target them to buy our endless diet, weight loss, exercise, etc. products. Don’t get me wrong, it’s even hard for me sometimes to not get caught up in labels. But, I remember the words of a close friend who said to me one time, “Why does it even matter? Seriously?!”