I feel the need to apologize to all “Real Women” out there…

Aeryn Lynne

Not sure if you’re familiar with this conflict, but there is a war on words in a particular sector of the fashion industry.  There is this vicious cycle where 14+ women don’t want to utilize the term “plus-size” when they discuss clothing and themselves, and yet are stuck using this term, because other explanatory choices have found their way to offend.  Bigger women (and most likely men too) want a term that will give voice to their needs, while still empowering them to look for fashionable items that will make them shine.

Some women have given up the hard fight altogether, because they’re made to believe that they shouldn’t bother; and then there are those truly beautiful “curvy” bloggers, with hundreds of OOTD (outfit of the day) posts under their belts, that took up the mantle (multiple puns intended,) and give an incredible fight to show that beauty is everywhere. And it simply is. A fight.

Here are some general reasons for not wanting to use the term, “plus size”:

  • 10 is considered a plus size in many circles, simply because it takes two digits to make that number, so the term really isn’t accurately descriptive;
  • Concurrently, there isn’t a specific term for sizing under 10 (though I have heard “straight size” or “regular” on occasion.) Since there is a true abundance of clothing created in sizing under 10, there isn’t a need for classification.  You don’t have to go into any random clothing store and ask, “Do you sell clothes?” and hope to find even one article that will fit. Though if you’re “above average,” and not familiar with a particular brand and have high hopes, you will go into that clothes store and ask, “Do you sell plus-sizes?”  There is a contention there, an unfortunate embarrassment for many, for having to ask if something will fit bigger. And there’s the rub. The segregation from not being able to choose clothing from any random store has created the abnormal classification, ie “plus size”;
  • And honestly, what woman of any size wants to subjugate themselves to a term that emphasizes their size #? When I introduce myself as a “plus-size blogger”, I’m knowingly putting a random, irrelevant number before who I am as a person to explain a subject that I love discussing.

Fashion should be all about personal style and freedom of expression, not what # that happens to be on your garment tag.

And as much as I wish I could walk out of any store I like with multiple bags in hand, the kind that could possibly make TheHubs tear up inside once the credit card bill comes in, I can’t. I have a category; one that needs a name.

One particular term that concerns me greatly is “real woman”. In context, I’ve been told more and more recently that BrandX has sizes for real women. BrandY has real women in mind when they design.  BrandZ knows how hard it is for real women to find fashionable clothes, and they want to help.

They want to help.

The only fake woman out there is Barbie, and that’s because she’s plastic. She’s make-believe.  If you’re reading this, and you have an XX chromosome, you are a real woman.

Please, if you work in the plus-size industry and you want to help, please stop using the term “real woman.”  It makes me want to tattoo disclaimers and apologies on my skin; it’s not a nice term and needs to be nipped and tucked away.

Another term that has me more confused than concerned is “curvy.”  Just like every woman is real, every woman has curves, so do men for that matter (even if they’d prefer we call it “angles”.) We’re not made of straight lines, and it only took me just one day of art class to figure that one out.

One could, and has, argued that plus-sized women’s curves are more pronounced, but I know a few non-plus sized women out there that are bustier than I. In some ways, it’s quite the epitome of “curvy.” So it too has caused feelings to be hurt, though in the grand scheme of things, it’s a term that I wish could be accepted by all.

The one term that is seemingly acceptable is “Full Figured”. Heck, its a term I use on my site often, but even then it has this connotation that those under 14+ have less of a figure.

Its distressing. And I can’t help but wonder if we’re “not allowed” any of these terms, simply because we didn’t ask first. We adopted “real woman”, “curvy” and “full figured” as our own without discourse, and there are people out there that want those terms back.

We plus-sized people need a term that is acceptable on all fronts. Something stylish, trendy, fashionable, something akin to the clothes we fight to wear.

Unfortunately, like everyone else in the industry, I don’t have an answer; but I have hope that we’ll have a widely acceptable classification soon.  Until then, I’m personally going to use “plus sized”, “curvy” and “full figured”, and will continue to cringe when someone in sales tries to empower my purchase and their commission with the term “real woman,” (as I honestly can’t think of any fellow bloggers who uses that particular term themselves.)

And for any “Real Women” offended, I’m sorry.

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Aeryn Lynne

The Geek at Geek Life
Living in Superman's Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, fights for fashion-equality, squees over comic art, and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction.
Aeryn Lynne

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10 Comments on “I feel the need to apologize to all “Real Women” out there…

November 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

“More to Love”. When I was a ‘more to love’ kind of gal I would always use that word. I would never take any offence to it, but unfortunately it is a mouthful when it’s to be said.
I don’t expect to see fashion labels carrying a ‘more to love’ sign, but it is nice to imagine. More to love doesn’t carry negative connotations in my mind. I don’t see how it could.

Aeryn Lynne
November 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

Love it! I’m not sure it could be used in a business sense… a “More to Love Fashion Blogger” (instead of full figured fashion blogger,) would certainly be a convo starter at least, lol. As a personal term, I think its awesome. 🙂

Deanna T. (@MapleLeafMommy)
November 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I sort of get the real woman comment, in a hey… have you noticed that the people in the pages of those catalogues are more pixel than they are flesh? I don’t personally find it offensive, but I do totally get what you’re saying. And that line about Barbie cracked me up.

Aeryn Lynne
November 28, 2013 at 1:45 am

Oh yeah, I understand the “real woman” versus “Photoshopped fantasy” argument. I’m trying to remember if it was this blog, or when I wrote for ChickTalk, that I did this long post disapproving how photoshopped Faith Hill was for a particular cover, lol. They literally chopped a quarter of her body away, it was disgusting. I have a feeling that post is lost to the ether though, *sigh*…

And hee! I totally live to crack you up hun! 😀

November 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm

To me “Real Woman” is a group of anti-feminists. I worked in the US for a while and was at work over there when the 9/11 event occurred. I stayed over at her place that night but needed to buy some clothes. When I said that I needed larger sizes, she was surprised, which was strange to hear. Anyway, she called the larger sizes Women’s sizes as opposed to the Ladies’ sizes that she wore.
I dislike the term Lady as it has only 2 definitions to me: Royalty or Ladies of the Evening, neither of which apply to me.

Aeryn Lynne
November 28, 2013 at 1:48 am

Wow! I never heard of the Women vs Ladies argument/discription before… that one is so weird! So you apparently can’t be a lady once you reach a certain size… that’s quite the statement there. :/

Debbie Bashford
November 28, 2013 at 11:01 am

I like the term fuffy and think I would quite enjoy buying fluffy sizes like instead of 4X it would be a fluffy 4

caryn s
November 28, 2013 at 11:59 am

To me its funny how being a size 14 automatically makes you plus sized. Our society is so judgemental! I personally don’t mind the term plus size.

Donna L
November 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm

very well written article, and I can relate!

January 3, 2014 at 12:10 am

Very well written article. I am a curvy girl and I am often embarrassed to ask for plus size clothing. Even when I dropped to a size 8 I had to shop in the plus size section because I had wide hips and a bum.

This leads to depression and a poor body image. Brands should be more aware of this and shy away from grouping women by numbers. Why not implement UK sizing or go simply by measurements.


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