Friday, February 6, 2015

Since When is a Size 10 Plus-Size?

"Plus-size models in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue!"

This is the big news from this much anticipated (you can debate "by whom") issue of the popular sports magazine.  Perhaps you would think that the women featured would be large, pudgy, a few extra rolls here and there, we know there won't be cellulite because they'll airbrush that out. Let's take a look.

For the swimsuit ad, the model is a size 16.  The model is in good shape for what we think of as a large woman, and of course, she's pretty in that SI model kind go way.  The interesting thing to me is that this is an ad - paid space in the magazine.  So message women: if you want to be this big and be in this magazine, you're going to have to pay.

The model in the regular featured pages of the magazine, is a 10.  Yes, that's the plus-size model.   Since when is 10 "plus-size"! And yes, I am complaining because I am just a chocolate cake away from this plus-designation. At one point, wasn't size 16 or even 18 the point where women had to go to the specialty shop or section in the department store? Then, I noticed it scooted down to 14.  Now we're down to a 10?

This is more than me not wanting to be a plus-size.  It's about what do we think a regular woman should look like?  That's a hard question, even if you google it. There's a lot of answers, but a seemingly consistent range is about 5'4, 34-35 inch waist (also the recommended waist size for health purposes), and 140-150 pounds.  This woman would be a size 12-14, depending on where she shops, because the other thing about women's clothes is that the higher end shops and labels assign smaller sizes. I mean that makes sense, if I'm about to pay $100 for a blouse, you better tell me I'm skinny.

So, what's that mean - we're all big? Even if that is the argument, from a labeling standpoint, shouldn't "plus" be some kind of outlier?  Like eggs. When I pay the extra for the "jumbo" eggs, they need to be significantly larger than the regular ones.

What does it say about our image of what women should look like with all kinds of mixed signals on sizing?  For instance, there's a size 0. What the heck is that?  Yes, I've seen women who are probably size 0 and I stare, wondering where do they keep all their internal organs, where is their spleen?  (Note, there is not a size 0 for men.)  Then there are obese women who claim that they are happy, despite the possibility of heart disease.  And then there are average sized women who we are now saying are large.  What's a woman to do?

I guess the first thing to do is not refer to Sports Illustrated for a reference point of what a normal women should look like. Even in the non-swimsuit issue, the women are professional athletes who spend their workday lifting, running, jumping, swinging, swimming and eating right.  We can't compare our hour at the gym on a good day, eating chips while watching How to Get Away with Murder lives to these people.  So I'm going to ignore the swimwear issue, too, because I'm not those people either.

Pass me another slice of chocolate cake.

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