“Plus” Size: That 4-Letter Word

Since losing a decent chunk of weight in adolescence and narrowly avoiding heading into high school as a plus-sized 13-year-old, an obsession formed. Hovering anywhere from a size 10 to a roomier size 12 for the past 15 years, I always figured that no matter how much weight I gained or lost, I would always be fine as long as I wasn’t a “plus size.” It just wasn’t a possibility, and in my mind, if I hit that point, then I had lost the war and life would end as I knew it.

Well here I am – universally staring at a size 14, which is officially deemed as plus size (or size 12 if you’re Forever 21 and feed off the crushed souls of women everywhere) and guess what? I’m not writing this from beyond the grave – I’m fine. But it’s taken some time to get here.

I’ve been a size 14 (squeezing myself into some well-tailored 12’s) for a couple years now, but I’m only now saying it out loud because for all that time, “plus” was still a dirty 4-letter word. It was the word that told me I was evicted from “normal” sizes and therefore “normal” body confidence and “normal” worthiness. It’s no secret that sometimes my self-worth feels sadly tied to what my body may be doing at the time, but being told you’re no longer allowed in a certain category simply because of what pants you wear was hard to admit out loud. And that’s stupid.

I’m in two minds about the term “plus size”, because on the one hand, it’s just a word. The problem isn’t the size associated with it or even the word itself, but simply the stigma that society has tied to it. Having accepted that this word means nothing more than a type of clothing I wear, it’s ridiculous for young girls to be holding themselves to the hope that they never reach this danger zone of clothing sizes. Yet it’s understandable, because to be “plus size” means to be cast out from everyone else, and making everything just a little more difficult; finding a top to fit your breasts, boots to fit your calves, and stores that stock your clothing. You’re separated from your friends while shopping together, as they check out Abercrombie & Fitch and you wonder over to Torrid (which is awesome, by the way). The word holds all this power over us, but to be plus sized is still to be beautiful and to be proud of loving yourself.

On the other hand, I lament the fact that this word even exists. Rather than simply add larger sizes to a clothing line, someone out there felt like it was necessary to give women of a certain size a separate label (because for the most part, only women get a section of the store dedicated to “fat”) and make sure that we know where we stand. Oh, you like that dress? Well it’s only available up to a size 12. Why don’t you try our “above average” area for a rather decorative muumuu? They created a simple word to let you know that you literally don’t fit where you should in society and a constant reminder that you should change if you want to be accepted. I’m happy to be plus-sized, and I’ll own it, but a part of me will always know that the term itself is completely unnecessary.

As someone who went from non-plus size to plus-size within a pretty short period of time, I felt the lack of transformation. I didn’t metamorphosize overnight into a voluptuous young vixen when I fit into my first size 14 – I stayed the same person. I was just as human as a size 12 as I am a size 14, except now the tags of my clothing sport one extra word. There is literally no difference between being “plus” sized and “regular size” so I guess what I’m asking is… what up, society?

All in all, I’m now proud to be counted among so many beautiful plus-size women who embrace their body and kill all the haters with confidence, grace, and stunning beauty. I no longer live in fear of being “plus” because for years, society has told me that I don’t fit their norms, so what’s one more reason not to fit your standards?

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