I’m not normally one to yell about body image or media/retailer’s responsibility to make me feel good about myself.
Sure, like any other girl I feel bad about some body part or feature just about every day, but I work out at least six days a week, eat healthy and look better at nearly 31 than I did at 18. And, frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to get frustrated every time a magazine photoshops someone unrecognizable.
However, a friend’s post about the Neiman Marcus’ “plus sized” section of their website compelled me to speak up.
Setting aside the fact that most of these clothes are $500 shapeless tents that would send Stacy and Clinton from “What Not to Wear” in to a tizzy, check out what Neiman Marcus deemed “plus sized.” Um, I can see chest bones and clavicles on every single one of those models. Their legs are the size of my arms. They look like they’re sizes 4-6, decidedly not plus-sized.
If these girls are what luxury retailers consider to be plus sized, they’re setting a standard none of us can possibly reach. It’s not aspirational or beautiful, it’s offensive. I know plenty of girls who fall in to the “plus sized” category who are legitimately beautiful but feel absolutely awful about themselves. Hell, I’m averaged-sized and feel like putting on a figure-hiding caftan and huge sunglasses some days.
When a luxury retailer presents very thin women wearing too big clothing as the “plus sized,” it’s irresponsible and a little mean.
The bar for women’s beauty is already extremely high. Of course over-photoshopped celebrities who are paid to work out and get facials look perfect—it’s their job. I don’t need to rehash what’s been written hundreds of times by authors far better than me, but I do need to say this: it’s not helpful for women who are plus sized to get a message they’re not beautiful enough to model clothing and it’s not helpful for average sized women to be told they’re plus sized.
And why couldn’t Neiman Marcus use actual plus sized models? There’s no shortage of beautiful women who wear sizes 12+. Really, there’s not.
In fact, I bet no shortage of the thousands of websites and magazines devoted to women would applaud them for what, unfortunately, would be lauded as a brave choice. Mass-market retailers take their cues from the luxury market. If Neiman Marcus embraced all kinds of beautiful, others would too.
As for me, I’m going to send a strongly-worded email to their parent company (I’d stop shopping there but let’s be real – I’m more about JCrew and Nordstrom at this point in my life) and stick to the models at Lululemon, Oiselle and Lucy for inspiration. Those girls look strong and fit. They’re not bony or malnourished. And they look like they’d be a whole lot more fun to grab a beer or heaven forbid a sandwich with.
EDITOR’s NOTE: Buzzfeed has put together a great rundown of “plus sized” models – total hotties with amazing curves!