Yep, you read the title and, for most women, the opinion still stands: "if Beyonce is plus-sized… than most of us are hippos."
It’s no surprise that the magazine and fashion industry’s concept of measurement normalcy has been warped since the beginning of its foundation (enough models have spoken out about their cocaine and Pink Lady apple diets over the years to give us ammo), but recently, things have become even more extreme. Although body types like Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Beyonce were the ideal in the 2000s… lately, they almost look “curvy” in comparison to today’s waifish stars. And after H&M’s CEO referred to Miss Knowles herself as an exemplification of progress in the modeling industry, a lot of women were left thinking...“Say what?”
This month, Academy Award nominee Melissa McCarthy is feeling the industry’s size-ism yet again, but this time on the cover of Elle magazine. Previously, McCarthy had grappled with journalistic bullies attacking her physicality versus comedic talent, as well as her own comment toward a 2010 Marie Claire essay (“Should Fatties Get a Room?”) saying, “I hope she [the writer] doesn’t have a daughter.” Melissa’s beauty on the November Elle cover is stunning, to say the least, but many fans are claiming “foul fashion play” when witnessing the full coverage, body-hiding, bulky coat as the prime cover choice. In comparison to its scantily clad counter poses of the past, many advocates believe the styling was “lazy” while McCarthy herself says she loved the coat and the look.
Frankly, the war between curves and bones has been raging for as long as we can remember. In fact, a recent study by retailer Sonsi showed that plus-size women overwhelmingly prefer being called “curvy,” although another 25 percent favor “full-figured” or simply “beautiful” as a designated label. Plus-size model Angela O’Riley explains the gap between “curvy” women and their hesitancy to embrace the plus side of things: “It’s deeply ingrained, this fashion thing. We’re all socialized from a very young age to look at fashion magazines… but nobody looks like us.” Adding, “It’s exclusionary, and it sets up a vicious cycle of ‘I’m no good.’”
Yet in contrast, one of the most popular styles of swimsuits this summer was called the “fatkini,” an epithet derived more from the digital and blog community than the marketers themselves. Originally created by curvy blogger Gabi Gregg and brand “Swimsuits For All,” Gregg explains, “I didn’t come up with the term ‘fatkini’- it’s been a buzzword in the body-positive community for a while.” Still, despite the swimsuit’s prodigious popularity (selling out within hours online), few believe the word “fat” has any place in positive dialogue.
Kelly Osbourne, Fashion Police commentator and self-professed FFP (Former Fat Person), looks forward to creating her own curve-friendly clothing line, but admits the industry can be brutal. “When I lost weight and started to wear the clothes I always wanted to wear but didn’t fit into,” she explains, “It did give me a bit of bittersweet feeling towards the fashion world.” Fashion aficionado Tim Gunn [Unlink] is definitely on Osbourne and McCarthy’s side: “When I’m working in the real world with real women and we’re shopping, we find that fashion seems to end when you get any larger than a size 12. How ridiculous is that?”