Op-Ed: Inbetweenie Curvy Celebs on "Plus Size" Issues.
Posted on April 22 2016
Amy Schumer's Instagram ignited a very heated conversation. Everyone, everywhere had something to say- and now I, too am commenting.
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
She was referring to a piece by Glamour called "Chic At Any Size," and for the record, it did not say "Chic Plus Size," meaning she could easily be included as a woman her size, as pointed out by Glamour Editor In Cheif.
We love Amy Schumer, & would never want to offend her. To be clear, @glamourmag special edition never called her plus-size...— Cindi Leive (@cindi_leive) April 5, 2016
Upon reading her post, I started to realize it isn't the first time I've read about a curvy celebrity getting upset by this. Amy might not be technically plus size, but as a size 6/8, she is not the Hollywood standard of thin, which does make her a unique body to be featured in magazines.Mindy Kaling, around the same size as Amy Schumer, has expressed similar feelings in her book Why Not Me?:
"I read a magazine article with the title 'Curvy Celebs We Adore!' which featured a pretty photo of me. I loved it. Then I turned the page. The next bunch of photos were of actresses who were much bigger than me, probably weighing fifty to a hundred pounds more. My instantaneous reaction was 'Woah, woah, woah. I'm not that big. They're kind of being liberal with the term 'curvy,' aren't they?' Then I really panicked: I don't look like them, do I? I can still fit into an economy seat on a plane! These porkers would have to buy a row! I was considering asking the dental receptionist her opinion on the matter when I came to my senses. I realized how absurd and gross I was to want a magazine to have stricter criteria for their empowering piece about non-skinny celebrities. I'm not proud of that moment, but sometimes I fall victim to my own insecurities. I never want to be a part of the problem. I want to always be as body-positive as girls hope that I am. And yet I occasionally use the term porkers. I'm trying, guys."
I appreciate Mindy Kaling's sentiment, and how she realized that her first reaction made her not the body-positive woman that she and her fans want her to be. Amy Schumer has expressed similar body positive sentiments in her work, but somehow didn't realize that her comment would be hurtful to her fans that have appreciated her inclusivity and for centering her work around women's empowerment.
Another inbetweenie, or "medium-sized" (a term coined by Isabel Foxen Duke, and then again used by Refinery 29 writer Kelsey Miller) celebrity is Lena Dunham, who was also featured in the same special edition magazine. Dunham is technically not plus but again seen as curvy in the world of Hollywood celebrity women. She came to Amy's side to defend her statement.
"I think Amy's entire thing is trying to sort of like break down barriers and be bold about her own opinions," she said, according to People. "And what I think she was trying to do was stand up for women and say we're not supposed be categorized in this role, we're supposed to just be allowed to exist."
Dunham and Schumer have teamed up for a skit in Schumer's show Inside Amy Schumer called "Size 12" where they address the lack of availability in sizes over 12. In an interview with Lancaster Online, Schumer described the skit,
“I’m shopping, and I’m like, ‘Hey, do you have this shirt in a larger size?,’” Schumer said about the skit. “They end up leading me out back into just a field with cows grazing and Lena. Because, if you’re above I think a size 12, in most stores, they’re just like, ‘Oh no, we don’t do that.’”
This is the issue. This is why Lane Bryant sponsored this entire issue of Glamour, this is why the plus fashion movement has had such momentum from the internet. I appreciate Amy Schumer touching on the issue of shopping as a woman above a size 12, because I've only ever seen discussion happen online and never on television. I do, however, find it contradicting to also be upset by being featured alongside non-traditionally sized celebrities. Representation is representation and we need to see size 8s just as much as we need to see size 18s. The plus models in the issue, like Iskra Lawrence, are about the same size as Amy Schumer but they are excited to share the issue on social media. I am hungry for spreads like this that show bodies more similar to my own than any of the typical Hollywood cover girls with thigh gap- women that Mindy Kaling might refer to as "walking clavicles." Schumer's body still looks more like my own than most women in magazines and I want to see how she wears clothing, how fashion looks on a size 6/8. This curvy revolution that is underway is about being inclusive. Fashion has always been exclusively for the thin, and the goal is for everyone to be able to participate.
The term plus size is a descriptor, as Tess Holliday has explained, a descriptor for clothing above a size 12. This clothing that needs to be designed differently to fit and flatter women who wear sizes above a 10. Amy Schumer is not plus size (neither is Mindy Kaling nor Lena Dunham, for that matter). They should not be categorized as plus size, because they are "medium size" or "inbetweenies." Their stylists do not need to seek out clothing from plus size departments or retailers, but have the freedom to find these women clothing from any brands they could possibly desire. While I get lucky if I find something that works at a straight size (or as many might call it, regular) store, these size 6/8/10 celebrities haven't experienced my joy in finding something that works for me without venturing to wherever the sad plus section is. Amy Schumer doesn't need to feel like she's part of the curvy revolution, because, from a fashion standpoint, she isn't. And to be fair, I didn't want to be called "plus size" either when I was squeezing into a size 12. I now am wearing a size 14, shopping plus size sections, and am a part of the community begging for more and better style options and for larger sizes.
But it does hurt my feelings. Being upset to be featured in one of the most diverse fashion spreads is ridiculous. The message is one of inclusivity, body positivity, and size representation. Medium size included. Her saying that plus women are beautiful but that she doesn't want to be lumped into that category is contradictory, hypocritical. And to have it leave her feeling "not cool, not glamorous," makes me feel extremely not cool and not glamorous. I want to feel just as cool and glamorous as the stylish it-girls, and I'm getting there with this new trend of body positivity and the media's recognition of size diversity. So, let's please not hate them for trying to get it right. It's so important that they are trying.