Body Positivity movement fails to please Plus size advocates

Supply is related to demand so as our society gets fatter clothing companies are now promoting plus size models. When I had a business on Trademe another businesswoman that I met had recently lost an enormous amount of weight. She told me that she had started her business based on the fact that she couldn’t find any jeans in New Zealand that would fit her. She ordered some from America and put a couple that arrived that were the wrong size on Trademe. The response to the jeans was such that she realised that she could turn it into a business. Men especially were her biggest customers as she was the only business in New Zealand at that time that had jeans in their size.

Now that more businesses have responded to the demand you would think that Plus size advocates would be pleased but it is not enough for the companies to supply plus-size clothing they also want them to use models that are seriously obese in their advertising. Their reasoning? They want profit driven companies to use their ad campaigns to change “people’s mindsets.”

A new campaign by a beauty giant designed to promote body positivity is not convincing two women who advocate for plus-sized ladies.

On Friday, Dove launched a new series of images shot by Mario Testino. It doesn’t feature models, and the images are presented without retouching and with the approval of the women.

That series of ads was released days after Nike expanded their plus-size offering significantly, releasing 85 new items in sizes from XL to 3XL.

The new commitments from Dove, Nike and Farmers to use curvier models comes ahead of next month’s New Zealand Plus Size Fashion Weekend, whose organisers say it is the first such catwalk show dedicated exclusively to “women with the deeper curve in their hip”.

Dr Cat Pause, a fat studies researcher at Massey University, said while it was important people of all sizes could find clothes that fit, it did not mean attitudes towards accepting fat people were changing fast enough. New Zealand remained largely “anti-fat”. 

This is an interesting point. It is similar to the debate about how I feel about Muslims. I am not anti-Muslims. I treat the individual Muslims I meet with respect. I am anti the ideology that they follow and it is what they believe and specific actions that I criticise. I am not anti-fat people. I don’t like it when I am on an aeroplane and an individual obese person’s fat spills over to my part of the seat and their arm takes over my armrest so that I have a squished and uncomfortable flight. As an employer, I will not choose an obese person for a position that requires them to be fit and active. Is that being anti-fat or are obese people affecting others and themselves negatively because of their size?

The inclusion of plus size models or bigger sizes were market-driven.

“Dove and Nike’s ads don’t speak to me,” she said. “The kind of models they use are still ‘acceptable fat’ and body shapes. They rely on mostly white, hourglass shaped woman.”

Plus-size fashion blogger Meagan Kerr said there remained a disconnect between marketing, and reality.

“Even the speciality plus-sized stores, the models they use are on the very smallest plus size, size 14 not 27. Occasionally they’re not even plus-sized.”

Advertising for clothing has never reflected what real women look like. Models have always been boyish waifs with no hips and a thigh gap. Ads for plus-size women were always going to use models from the lowest possible end of the plus-size spectrum.

 – Sunday Star Times

Accepting obese people and treating them with respect and kindness is one thing but pretending that they are attractive and healthy is another. I do not think that it is anti-fat to acknowledge that being obese is not attractive or healthy. I don’t think that being anorexic is attractive or healthy either, does that make me anti-skinny people?

 


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