By Ginger Mayo
I spend a lot of time on social media, which means I see my fair share of links circulating the web. Mostly I get links to things like Kylie Jenner’s Before and After photos and 17 Amazing Foods You’ve Never Heard Of – but increasingly, links pop up related to ‘plus sized role models.’
At first I was really excited about the increasing trend of plus sized people being recognized. I figured that it would be exciting and good for people to be able to connect, at least aesthetically, to these successful figures. There is no denying that we live in a culture that is obsessed with form and body, so it should be a positive movement if we were moving towards embracing all manners of size.
When I clicked on the link, the first figure that popped up was… Jennifer Lawrence.
I literally laughed.
Since when is someone like Jennifer Lawrence considered plus sized? I had never thought about her like that. Actually, I had always thought about her as a kind of stereotypically thin Hollywood type that fit the expected visual profile. Blonde, white, thin, but still curvy – all things Hollywood has glorified and fetishized since the dawn of film. I brushed off my skepticism and kept scrolling.
Dasha Polanco, Kate Upton, Nicki Minaj, and Marilyn Monroe were being advertised as the height of body acceptance.
I really couldn’t believe this.
The first troubling fact that came to mind was that all of these ‘role models’ were women. No men were mentioned – no ‘good for you Seth Rogen, you still get out there!” or “Wow, Louis CK is a hero – he’s not ashamed of himself!” Why was it only women? Why were women praised for… accepting their natural bodies, when the question isn’t even asked for men?
Before I had opened this article, I didn’t think of any of these women as ‘plus sized’ or ‘curvalicous’. I thought of them in their respective careers. I thought about Dasha Polanco’s incredible performance in Orange Is The New Black. I thought about Kate Upton landing the cover shoot for Express Jeans. I thought about Nicki Minaj’s incredible video Anaconda that broke down the barriers between sexual identity and sexual fetishization. I thought about the thousands of biographies and books that analyzed and attempted to unriddle the mystery of Marilyn Monroe. In no way did I focus on the fact that they perhaps had curves, and were still successful.
On top of all this – these women are still relatively thin and fit into a very stereotypical prototype for what young men want to see, sexually. All of these women are ‘curvy’, with thin waists. They all sport a huge amount of femininity, and are simply an extension of the hyper-glorified thinness that we worship as a culture anyways. I want to see plus size women of color, I want to see plus size trans women, I want to see plus size non-binary women who are size 22+ and I want to see them achieve every dream without being shamed. I want to worship plus size ladies that don’t shave, and straight plus sized ladies that reject femininity and plus sized ladies that like to wear nothing but a see through white tee shirt.
The issue that comes to mind with all of the emphasis on plus-sized girls being worshipped for being ‘plus sized’ is it underlines the issue itself. WE feel like we have to congratulate and recognize women for being themselves – if they’re not thin. We have to say “good job, you still dance, you still sing, you still model, even though you’re fat”. Which brings us right back to the center of the issue. Women should be able to do every fucking thing that comes to mind, without mention of weight or appearance. No one congratulates Ed Sheeran as a plus-sized role model. No one taps Rick Ross on the shoulder and whispers that he’s brave for rapping in such a huge body. Why is this polarized to women?
I’m so sick of people putting all of their focus on the way my body is. I don’t know why my body looks why it does. Genetics happened. It sucks, or it rocks, but either way I will love myself unconditionally. When will we stop congratulating girls for being themselves? It’s a given. Let girls be who they are without belittling and mocking them.