Redefining Body Positivity: Plus-Size Stores & Influencers Blossom
In a move that was more controversial than it should have been, Nike recently introduced plus-size mannequins at one of its stores in London. Of course, the move was hailed by the body positivity crowd, but it wasn’t all adulation.
Body Shaming? Still Very Real
While Nike’s move made us rejoice, it left many critical of it for apparently “encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle.” Sadly, this argument has become a commonplace counter to the body positivity movement.
Those who use this argument often self-appoint themselves as our fitness mentors and ask us to “just work out” instead of being inclusive and respectful as we would prefer them to be. But the hypocrisy here is hilarious.
A piece by The Telegraph reignited the debate and fueled the naysayers of the body-positivity movement. It reflected a pretty narrow understanding of the issue.
The Shopping Struggle
For a plus-sized person, many things in life become a wee bit tougher than usual. I battled with feeling confident, striking conversation, and the most frustrating of them all: finding clothes that fit. I’m sure my last point resonates with many.
A point many of them made very evident. Their ridicule of my clothing was expressed in generous amounts of bullying.
I still remember seeing an advertisement in the newspaper about a plus-size store opening in Delhi. It almost felt like God himself had come to my aid. I bought my first set of clothes that weren't picked up from the men's section or didn’t have to be altered by the neighbourhood tailor.
It was also, maybe, my first tryst with body positivity. Simply speaking, I realised I am not a ‘misfit’. There are other people with a body type like mine and it is okay to look the way I do.
Over the years, many things changed for the good. The bullying and the ridicule persisted, of course.
On the brighter side, however, I saw more plus-size stores mushroom across the city. Exclusive stores. They gave us, who don’t wear conventional sizes, the choice that we had previously lacked. It is no longer a game of hoping and praying for a store to keep something, anything, in a larger size. We can finally choose what we want and what we do not.
Online Clothing & Influencers: Divine Interventions
Even though plus-size brick and mortar stores offer much variety, they lack some essentials like lingerie, gym wear, formal wear and evening wear, which is where online stores like Shein, Stalkbuylove, aLL... come to the rescue.
These websites offer a lot of range, in terms of both the clothes and their sizes. Some websites keep sizes as far as 5-8 XL, which are sometimes not even accessible at plus-size stores, leave alone regular ones.
Since we can return and exchange items, ordering clothes online isn’t accompanied by worrying about getting stuck with ill-fitting clothes.
I follow many such influencers on Instagram and they give me the strength to be confident, not just in how I look, but also in who I am.
Big Brands Dip Their Toes in the Plus-Size Game
Every time Ashley Graham, Kate Wasley and many others like them strut down the runway, they make a positive statement for the plus-size community. They allow for us misfits-no-more to be represented and validated, a ray of hope after being made to feel different all our lives.
Sadly, there aren’t a lot of Indian plus-sized models who walk the ramp. Special fashion shows with plus-sized models have received a lot of love and hopefully, will soon be inducted into the ‘mainstream’.
Top fashion brands have started looking beyond conventional sizes and are incorporating the XLs and the XXLs. We might be going slow but we are certainly not going to stop till the plus-size community is given the respect it deserves.
Still a Long Way To Go...
People who think the only reason for someone to gain weight is their “unhealthy lifestyle” really need to update themselves. Multiple conditions – medical, genetic or otherwise – can result in weight gain. Losing weight, without the politics of it, isn’t just about “getting off your ass and going to the gym.” Hence, we call for inclusivity.
While the movement has achieved quite a lot, we still have a long way to go. More power to us body positivity warriors, who are trying to level the playing field one size at a time!
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