More now than ever, it seems as if the fashion world is attempting to break the trend of only hiring stick-thin models to walk the runways and grace the pages of editorial fashion spreads. Looking through women’s magazines and on the internet, the amount of “plus size” models is becoming more abundant, and it’s truly a breath of fresh air. It seems like common sense! If the majority of people can relate to a larger sized model (which in real life would actually be considered normal sized), then why would there not be models to represent this in the media?
However, where there is change, there will always be criticism. A new meme has come out called the “Good Sport Plus Size Woman”, which is a picture of a plus size swimsuit model with different phrases over her. Some of the phrases are attempting to be encouraging (emphasis on attempting), showing that although the woman is plus-sized, she doesn’t care, but others are just intentionally insulting and offensive, poking fun at the woman’s weight because that’s all that matters about her, apparently.
The problem with this meme is not even the fact that people are purposely insulting the model by insinuating that she only cares about food due to her size, but the memes that are meant to be positive about her weight really just reduce her and other plus size models to a “we vs. them” mentality. For example, one of the memes says, “Doesn’t like skinny girls/keeps it to herself”. Why does this model not like skinny girls? Why are we to assume that simply because she is a few sizes bigger? The problem with such statements is that they are encouraging us as women to constantly be at war with one another. We can never just support one another and like one another regardless of aesthetic qualities. There has to be something wrong and the battle lines must be drawn. Pitting skinnier women against heavier women is not only dumb, it’s also insulting.
Another problem with this meme is that some of the people making them believe that they’re being positive about the woman in the image, making statements such as, “May be overweight/but her attitude, personality, and heart make weight and a non-issue” and “A good attitude/is what makes her hot”.
However, while these phrases are more polite than just flat out-calling the woman fat, they’re insinuating that she can’t just be beautiful regardless of her size. Saying that a woman’s attitude is what makes her hot is saying that she has no outer beauty, when the woman in these memes is absolutely gorgeous. Her weight is what makes people think she is less than, and it’s completely ridiculous. What these memes are saying is that if you have a weight problem, you need to have a good personality in order to make up for your short-comings, aka your weight. That is not the way we should be thinking about weight and body issues. A person can be beautiful no matter what their size and attitude are. These things are not all connected.
I am not even going to get into the flat-out insulting statements that are on some of these memes.
The people who created them have the skewed idea that a person who is overweight is automatically always thinking of food, that there is no separation between having a few extra pounds and devouring French fries. It’s just so stupid to think about. A person should not be reduced to their size and they certainly should not be reduced to what food they eat, how much they eat of it, and when they eat it.
We as a society need to get away from these ideas and just accept people as they are, as long as they are happy and healthy. And really, who are we to judge others? We see so many people only through the lens of the media, but that doesn’t give us the right to scrutinize strangers. While the addition of more and more plus-sized models in the fashion industry is absolutely a step in the right direction, we as a society still have a lot of growing to do when it comes to our mentality about weight and physical appearance.