And If Someone Thinks You’re Plus-Size, Then What?

10 Apr

Untitled(Image by Daniela Goulart used under CC license 2.0 via)


The tiff between comedienne Amy Schumer and Glamour magazine this week has reached the media coverage level of Big Deal. In an issue featuring plus-size models on its cover, Glamour listed Schumer under “Inspiring Women We Admire” alongside Melissa McCarthy and Adele. Schumer took to Twitter to complain:

I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8. @glamourmag put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamourous.

The Glamour editors apologized for hurt feelings, while emphasizing their respect for Schumer and that they didn’t actually mean to suggest she is plus-size.

The public has divided in two, with Schumer’s supporters claiming she has helped to question not only the definition but the very idea of “plus-size.” After all, as the children’s book You Are (Not) Small shows, size is relative. “Plus size” is, to be sure, an utterly made-up idea, necessary to absolutely no one on earth.

The other faction has criticized Schumer’s seemingly contradictory praise for plus-size models in the same breath that she insists she doesn’t belong with them. While I am not interested coming to any conclusions about Amy Schumer’s true personality and values, her actions thusfar represent an all too common problem in the body positive movement. The problem leaves women who larger than a size 6 or 8 to fend for themselves not only against the hideousness of lookism in general, but against the implication that their smaller sisters are all quietly consoling themselves with the mantra, “At least I don’t look like that!

Spend decades working to pick apart body image and lookism, and you’ve heard this all before. A woman—usually a woman—is an out and proud feminist, ready to rar about restrictive beauty standards while cracking jokes about her curves, but she cannot and will not stand anything less than compliments on her looks from others. In some cases, she goes fishing for compliments as much if not more than your average beauty pageant queen:

“I’m not short!”

“He called me ‘Ma’am!’ I’m not old!”

“The test rated me as obese. I’m not obese! Obese is…”

Instead of questioning what’s wrong with being old, she rages against the implication that she is. Instead of questioning what exactly would be so wrong with strangers not liking her looks, she argues that they would in a just world.

The reason so many of us end up doing this is because we like to be thought of as confident, yet we behave based on fear. We fear being called ugly, we fear not having broad appeal, and we do nothing to confront those fears. We talk openly about them. And stop there. And in doing so, we spread them.

We don’t face up to the fact that “winning” the beauty pageant game by having fashionable looks is no guarantee of lasting love or happiness. Instead, we keep on envying the winners and ever so quietly echoing the Mean Girls we met in high school: It is very important that most people think you are attractive. Beauty contests matter. Hierarchies matter, at least a little. No one wants to be last. You need someone to look down on in order to build yourself up. That’s natural. It’s a mess of a message to women and men, young and old alike. And it helps no one.

Sometimes it helps to switch from the high school mindset to an even less mature one. Spend a lot of time around pre-school children, and you know you can’t control what they notice:

“I think you’re pregnant!”

“Your skin’s all wrinkly!”

“Why are you so short?”

“Why do you walk so funny?”

“This hair is gray!”

“What’s that stripe on your arm?”

“What are those dots on your face?”

“Twenty-two is old!”

Pre-school teachers will fail—let alone make it through their first week— if they let such comments get to them. The best response, of course, is to engage the child and together examine the bodily feature they want to understand. If you don’t have the energy for a teaching moment, however, you simply shrug it off. Or say, “I am short/scarred/disabled because that’s just how my body looks. I like it that way.”

And if you want them to believe that—or anyone to believe that—then it helps if you believe it, too.




22 Responses to “And If Someone Thinks You’re Plus-Size, Then What?”

  1. hmunro April 10, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

    What wonderful, lucid writing. BRAVO!

  2. berolahragapanahan April 11, 2016 at 5:34 am #

    Nice post

  3. helmetgirlbandra April 11, 2016 at 7:32 am #

    I way 77 kgs and I can still last longer cycling and running than my 12 year old boy. I oscillate between a size 12 and 14. But I’m healthy Fit and happier. Everytime I drop 15 pounds I feel weak and faint. So I’m good with being heavier but Fitter

  4. berolahragabasket1 April 11, 2016 at 8:34 am #

    Great Post

  5. berolahragaatletik April 11, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    Nice Post

  6. DoomKitty April 12, 2016 at 7:25 am #

    Reblogged this on Es gibt nur einen Weg, eine Prüfung zu bestehen, man muss sich ihr stellen. Dies ist unumgänglich. and commented:
    Genau das! Und ich nehme mich da nicht raus, auch wenn ich versuche mich selbst und in diesem Zuge auch andere mehr zu akzeptieren und wertzuschätzen. Es ist nicht leicht in der heutigen Zeit, aber wenn niemand es überhaupt ernsthaft versucht, kann es auch nicht besser werden.

  7. kodakblack April 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

    nice stuff

  8. talithawinona April 12, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    Inspiring! Visit my blog to see Indonesian food review. Thanks 🙂

  9. sailthroughmythoughts April 15, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

    This is not only wonderfully written, but extremely inspiring. I love the message you are spreading.

  10. Katie<3 April 17, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    This is amazing! You should check out my blog

  11. carriedouglas22 April 21, 2016 at 5:51 am #

    aaaaaahhhh children. we love their honesty (except when they’re ours and making the perhaps honestly perceived yet disparaging comments, oh, and not-so-much when their honesty is directed at us). so….maybe we don’t love their honesty? loved your post….and excuse my run-on jumble of a sentence.

  12. A sporadic Life April 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    Great post!
    If you can do check out my blog 🙂

  13. paulolins60 April 25, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    Reblogged this on paulomatos60.

  14. bloggingisodd April 27, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    So eloquently done. Will definitely be sharing this!

  15. hbwoolcott93 May 5, 2016 at 2:02 am #

    Lovely! Well written and observed!

  16. jeanlovesjoy May 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    Reblogged this on jeanlovesjoy and commented:
    About plus size 🙂

  17. hannahbaston June 7, 2016 at 12:17 am #

    Great post. You really get to the heart of the issue.

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