“Plus” what, exactly?

ImageThe woman to the far right is Jennie Runk, pictured here in a Glamour spread circa 2009. The intarwebs have been a-buzz because she’s H&M’s new “plus size” swimwear model.

Let’s take another look. Here she is in H&M’s new swimwear shots:

ImageYes, apparently this size 12 woman is “plus-sized.” Excuse me? She looks HEALTHY. AND NORMAL. And pardon me, but I believe one finds size 12 in the “misses” (that is, the NOT plus-sized) section. Since when is this plus-sized? Certainly it’s not the size 0 we normally see, but should we really be calling this “plus”? Plus what? A normal amount of body fat and muscle?

As two women who are not size zeroes, we object. We object first because calling this woman anything other than normal is a gross misstatement. To imply that this woman is somehow heavier than she should be is nonsense. She looks beautiful as-is. I don’t just say this because when I look at most retailers’ models, I want to feed them giant Katz deli sandwiches by the fistful, but because this is the same kind of nonsensical distortion we get with the size zero model. Girls who are Ms. Runk’s size and one higher (14) are shopping in the section that advertises with size zeroes. Women who are size 16 and over are shopping for the clothes Ms. Runk is modeling. Isn’t it time we have just a bit of truth in advertising? If you’re going to sell “plus size” clothing, you need to use a plus size model. A model, that is, who wears size 16 or higher.

Additionally, there needs to be some parity across sizing. I give you the following anecdote: In December, I went looking for a New Year’s Eve dress. I headed to the predictable spots: Forever 21, H&M, etc. H&M was my first stop. My dress size, 95% of the time, is a 6 or 8. I do have a bit of trouble finding dresses that fit because I’ve got a lot of booty and not a lot of booby. But, I digress. I went looking for a black sequin number I saw on the website, and found they only had a size 4 left. I thought to myself, I might as well try this on. It’s realistically only one–maybe two–sizes below me. Maybe it will fit.

And what do you think happened?

Not only did this “dress” not fit over my ass, it hardly fit over my boobs! My tiny boobs! Most women who are my size or a bit smaller have bigger boobs than me! And, on top of that, the notion that this thing was a dress was a joke. Even if I had gotten it to begin fitting over my hips, it wouldn’t have made it much farther because there just wasn’t any more fabric! The damn thing was shirt for a 10 year old being passed off as a dress.

My call, therefore, is for parity in sizing as well as in advertising. I should be looking at models smack dab in the middle of the spectrum of “misses” (that’s a size six, by the way) and smack dab in the middle of “women’s.” And I should be able to reasonably enter a store and try on one or two sizes of clothing and find items that are at least close to fitting. I shouldn’t have to shop at store A as an 8 and then go over to store B and have to buy a 13/14. If we could actually get some real sense of what size we were and stick to it, and saw real humans modeling the clothes we’re buying, we’d significantly reduce the amount of body-hating that goes on.

Thighs of Glory (Read: Beyonce’s Thighs)

(Amendment at end.)

Today, I learned that I have thighs of glory.  This does not mean my thighs are skinny, because they are not and they never will be.  Skinny thighs give me the creeps.  A “gentleman” walking about downtown Ann Arbor exclaimed upon seeing my pasty, glorious thighs, that they were, in fact, “Sweet and juicy.”  My first reaction, as always, was to get incredibly angry.  I generally get hypermasculine, start swearing, and calling people dudes when I am approached in this manner.  As you might imagine, I do not like being approached by random men who want to comment on my specific body parts and their potential “uses.”  Instead, I simply laughed at these strange and utterly creepy proclamations of my thigh’s awesomeness.

I thought to myself, “Here I am, a slightly-less-fat-than-average person with well-developed leg muscles (mostly the calves), pasty skin, a partial sunburn on my forehead, jiggly thighs, and fairly low self-esteem.  Yet, this possibly drunk man has enjoyed the show (by show, I mean that I walked by in longer-than-apparently-average shorts).  Maybe, I will just laugh at this and be thankful that someone out there still understands that thighs are meant to be thick, strong, and fleshy.  Thighs should look like thighs.”

I would much rather have Beyonce’s thighs of glory (however pastier, less toned, and altogether less glorious), than skinny thighs (ahem, LeAnn Rhimes, Victoria Beckham, Kiera Knightly, almost every model, and Miley Cyrus).  I would rather look like Serena Williams than a 12-year-old.  Skinny thighs are for children.  Thick thighs are for women.

Beyonce looks amazing. Her thighs are made of glory, sunshine, dance skills, and squats.

Seriously, how great does Beyonce look?  This lady helped bring back the popularity of thicker thighs, and I am thankful.  The ladies who write this blog are fans of curves.  Curves are normal.  Beyonce is clearly above average in all ways, but I think we need to remember the glory of “sweet and juicy thighs.”

This picture is so intimidating and amazing. Serena Williams could jump over a skyscraper with those legs. She could crush anything. They are glorious.

Serena Williams could destroy us all with her thighs.  I feel pretty good about that.  She is strong and sexy; her presence in pop culture is good for women with curves.

I know that this post may seem a bit strange.  *After all, I did get inspiration from a drunken cat call.*  However, it is somewhat comforting that people are appreciating pale, fleshy thighs.  That’s all.

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Amendment:

After reading some comments, I realize that this post needs clarification.  Thin thighs are not “unacceptable,” “horrible,” nor are they somehow inherently “bad.”  It is not bad to be a thin person.  No one is a villain simply having thin thighs.

What is bad and scary, then?

It is bad and scary to push a body to extremes.  It is bad to glorify thinness above all else.  It is bad to glorify unhealthy habits that push people into unhealthy weights.  Just as a person can be too fat, a person can be too thin.  Both are bad.  The thing, not a lot of people are striving to be fat.  A lot of people are spending their days and nights obsessing over being thin at any price.  A lot of people have blogs and tumblrs devoted to “thinspo” with all kinds of ways to get skinny.  There are too many little girls and women out there who hurt themselves to achieve a level of thin that is not healthy for them.

That said, making thin women the villain is wrong.

Thin women just so happen to be thin.  Many people want to be thin, and that’s okay.  But wanting to be thin, or wanting to have Beyonce’s thighs, at any cost… that’s scary.

Also, Beyonce is amazing.

Christina Aguilera Is NOT Fat.

A lot of people have been freaking out for a while about how “fat” Christina Aguilera has become.  Really?  She’s maybe, at most, a size eight.  Isn’t the average woman a size 14 in this country?  Average Americans are generally pretty frickin’ fat; especially when compared to famous people.  Famous people are held to a truly ridiculous standard of beauty, and their bodies are scrutinized constantly.  This girl appeared on the scene as a teeny tiny teeny bopper.  Now, she’s in her thirties, and she’s a mom.  Maybe we should back off a little.

Christina Aguilera is not fat, y’all.  She’s not even close.  She just grew up, had a baby, gained some normal weight.  How dare a celebrity parade her smaller-than-average, yet not entirely waifish body around like it’s not the worst thing to ever happen?  How dare she wear leggings, jeggings, skirts, dresses, and various other Hollywood-approved items of clothing?  Okay, so she’s a little fuller.  She still has a fairly flat stomach, and she’s a curvy lady.  She has always had impressive ta-tas.  She has always dressed scantily.  She has always flaunted her curves.  Meaning that she does have curves.  Why is that so bad?  Plus, remember when she released the album, “Stripped,” and released songs like, “Dirrrty?”  DO YOU REMEMBER “DIRRTY?”

Anything is better than the weird fake tanned, stippery, midriff-obsessed, dredded, smeared, slutty, dirrrty Christina Aguilera of 2001.  Even if you think she looks “fat,” which is (I reiterate) absurd.  She looks fine.  She looks closer to normal than most celebrities, but that might be a good thing.  Don’t people like that about Kelly Clarkson?  Why can’t we like that about Christina Aguilera too?  Oh no!  Healthy, slightly normal women in Hollywood!  But what if they sound fat on the radio?  We just couldn’t have that.

Turns out, Christina doesn’t give a single eff about people being real a-holes about her weight.  She said, “I’ve been in this for a long time. I came out on the scene when I was 17 years old. ‘You can never be too much of anything. You can never be too prefect, too thin, too curvy, too voluptuous,’ this, that. I’ve been on all sides of the spectrum…  I’m very confident in my body. I think my video works over the years have spoken to that… I’ve been no stranger to being very comfortable in my own skin.”  She also said that her man likes her curves.  (Read more.)

Thus, I think we should leave it be.  If she wants to be a normal person and eat french fries sometimes, why can’t she just freaking do that?

UGH.