Is the Plus Size Movement Empowering, Shaming or Unhealthy? Part 1

Times are changing for plus size women. Looking back over the past twelve months, genuine progress was made as consumers called out fashion designers, manufacturers, and retailers on their regressive attitudes towards plus size individuals. This pushback has led to significant changes in the global marketplace for beauty, but what about the global mindset? 

Posted: 17 June 15

By Louisa McKay

 In this article, the news-hungry team at Costhetics takes a look at the plus size movement and the impact it’s making on women’s self-esteem and self-image.

Artists Embrace Women’s Physical Diversity

From Renoir to Reubens to Botero, artists have always embraced curvy girls:

Admiration for the many incarnations of the female form is not limited to the past. In a contemporary photo essay, “We. Women,” the Lithuanian photographer Neringa Rekasiute provides an opportunity to observe women of all shapes, sizes and colours. The models are captured looking at their own reflection in a mirror, a source of pain for so many women who perceive their bodies as imperfect.

The portraits are strong and powerful. They show beauty in every kind of figure, and encourage us all to re-vamp our visions of beauty.

Costhetics Goes Where Size Acceptance and Health Collide

There are detractors who say we are overlooking the negative aspects of a positive body image. They believe you can’t be positive about your body when you’re actively damaging it. Optimal weight advocates say that being positive about the way you look is not enough.  You must be positive (and proactive) about your health, too.

The obvious ill effects of obesity — on organs, joints, energy levels, and mood — go totally against the idea of being positive. There is nothing more negative than treating your body with disregard. While no one should ever be body-shamed, there are questions about whether embracing the message of “body diversity” campaigns is also a celebration of unhealthy living.

Jillian Michaels, the notoriously famed Biggest Loser trainer, represents a different viewpoint on plus size acceptance:

“I also don’t believe that even though you might be 100 pounds overweight, you’re going, ‘Oh I’m good the way that I am.’ BULLSHIT. I don’t believe that you don’t wake up in the morning and feel uncomfortable in your skin. I don’t believe that you don’t feel insecure when you pick your kid up from school. I don’t believe that you don’t feel uncomfortable when you’re naked in front of your husband or your wife for that matter. I don’t believe you.”

As you can see, it’s not all sunshine, lollipops and roses in the world of plus size women, especially models. Read Part 2 of our two-part series on women’s body images for the negative side of positive body imaging.

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