The Plus Size Ghetto

– Alison Bowerman, staff

While shopping for Halloween costumes recently, I couldn’t help but notice how revealing the costumes were. In order to find a costume that gave decent coverage for my body, I began trying on larger sizes and noticed that the costumes had been separated into categories of ‘adult woman’ and ‘plus woman.’ It got me thinking, do plus size women really need separate clothing, models and stores?

This past summer, American Apparel held a contest to find plus size models for their new large-sized clothing line called ‘The Next BIG Thing’. The ad read: “Think you’re bigger, better and more booty-ful than the rest?” The ad also identified contestants as ‘XLent’ and women who need “a little extra wriggle room.” Contestants posted their photos on the website where visitors voted for the most ‘booty-ful’ woman. The photos were then ranked on a scale from one to five based on the number of votes.

Nancy Upton entered the contest with pictures of herself eating food in erotic positions. In one photo, she was in a pool eating chicken wings; in another, she was in her underwear with ranch dressing all over her body. Upton consequently received the most votes and won the contest. However, American Apparel denied her the victory. They issued a letter, stating that they were looking for women who “truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out.”

American Apparel’s new larger sizes were meant to be inclusive of all women customers. However, Nancy Upton was excluded from the contest because of her satirical pictures, so how can AA endorse inclusivity?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the average American woman weights 164.7 pounds, which is about a size 14-16. This is also where ‘plus size clothing’ starts and regular sizes end.

If the average woman is ‘plus sized’ why can’t we just have a variety of sizes at all stores? Why are these plus sized women segregated from smaller women? Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and therefore the term ‘women’ should be inclusive of all sizes, and ‘plus size’ is irrelevant.

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