Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Supposed "Difficulty" Of Making Plus-Size Clothing

The media still doesn't know how to deal with plus-sized women. It examines them carefully, with a cocked head: Where do you fit in? How do we deal with you? Are you freaks? Are you acceptable?
With this exaggerated caution, which examines the plus-sized woman at arm's length as if she were part of a foreign, inscrutable culture, come some rather ridiculous assumptions. A recent New York Times article about the plus-size clothing industry spends several pages discussing how dressing plus-size women is "enormously complicated."
Really. Enormously complicated. Why? As the argument goes, since plus-size women weigh more, their weight is distributed more randomly and their body shapes are less predictable. Cutting patterns is thus a laborious process fraught with potential error -- what if one plus-size woman has more weight in her arms, another in her hips? As this piece and the peeved designers interviewed in it would have it, thin bodies all fit smoothly into the same basic physical prototype (and, I'd add, all conform to the same social norm), whereas plus-size bodies are freakish, wild, unmanageable deviations.
I'm going to share something with you, designers: I have an ass. It is, I would say, somewhat disproportionate to the size of my body. It is a classic bubble butt, and runs in my family. I am generally a size 2; half the pants I find don't accommodate the bubble. I'm also 5'4"; at least 90% of the pants I find in stores and online do not fit me at all. They are too wide in the waist and much, much too long. My friend, 5'3" and extremely petite with a tiny 25-inch waist and size 5 feet, has an enormous bust. She has to watch out buying clothing in her size because she often goes bursting out of it.
But I guess, when it comes down to it, thin women's bodies are the same. Hardly any variation, any distinctness; you could just cut a pattern for one of us and it'd fit us all. We're cookie-cutter.
With this clearly, not the case, these presumptions seem to come down to two things: sheer laziness and fat phobia/prejudice, and/or designers' fear of ruining their skinny-glamour with a plus-sized line.  Lane Bryant was making 5 million dollars in 1923 and had narrowed the bodies of plus-size women into three categories -- flat-busted, full-busted, and evenly-sized all over. (Hmmm, reminds me that standard-size women have clothing in three categories as well -- tall, standard, and petite).  They've managed to make clothing for larger women for nearly a century without, it would appear, enormous complications.
Plus-sized women can do so much better than the those of the fashion industry who, despite working in a creative profession, despite fashion's supposedly constantly changing adaptability to new trends and influences, despite millions of dollars spent sewing couture dresses for one walk down the runway, couldn't possibly deal with a size 16 body. Go elsewhere, plus-sized ladies, and demand the respect and intelligence you deserve.
Photo credit: Dyobmit

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What does BBW mean Big Beautiful Woman

Although "BBW" may have been first used in the context of BBW Magazine, the term's usage spread over the years, to the point that even women who had never heard of the magazine began to refer to themselves as "BBWs."
Some women may adopt the term as a personal preference over the term Rubenesque, or full-figured, because they may not necessarily have large breasts or hips. Such terms, and others such as "queen-sized", "plus-sized", or "fat" may lead to feelings of marginalization or non-inclusion for some women. However, some strongly prefer the term fat over other words which they consider unnecessary euphemisms.
The term is also commonly used as a positive euphemism by people involved with the fat acceptance movement, who often reject the descriptor "obese".
Today, the abbreviation is often found in personal ads (and online dating services) denoting an identification with (or preference for) such women.
The term BBW is also used to denote events specifically targeted to such women, and persons interested in them, such as specific gathering nights in dance clubs, restaurants, fashion stores and shows, etc so that an environment of acceptance is achieved by having like-minded or like-bodied persons in attendance.

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Advertisers Embrace a Plus-Size Reality

 Noted French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier launched an advertising campaign last week featuring plus-size model Crystal Renn.
Advertisers Drop Skinny Models, Not Pounds
A model displays a creation by Italian designer Elena Miro showing her fall-winter, 2007-2008 collection during fashion week in Milan Feb. 17, 2007. More recent campaigns are featuring curvier models but is it evidence of a trend?
(Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)
Always on the cutting edge, Gaultier upped the ante by passing over a long list of the hottest models in favor of Renn. The move was heralded around the Fatosphere (look it up, it's real) as a major breakthrough in the growing acceptance of plus-size models.
Is this the beginning of a major shift in the way women are portrayed in advertising or an attempt to grab the attention of consumers in a down economy? More likely this is merely an accurate reflection of reality in a nation where 60 percent of women are overweight and in the market for size-14 clothing.
Earlier this year, the Girl Scouts launched a campaign promoting positive body image using successful plus-size models as spokespeople. From the award-winning, long-running Dove Campaign for Real Beauty using real women of all sizes and ages, to recent photo spreads in major fashion magazines such as Vogue and V, heavier, curvier models are everywhere.
It is an interesting dilemma. On one hand we are a nation going the wrong way with respect to weight. Sixty percent of women are overweight and a third obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. We want to be healthy and we don't want to promote unhealthy lifestyles.
On the other hand, women are getting larger not just in weight but in height and the reality is, as women become more empowered, they are increasingly rejecting the notion they have to pursue what for many women is an unachievable size and shape.
So, in the face of an apparel industry that has contracted during the recession and the real facts from companies such as Alvanon -- a fitting company with the industry's largest body scan data-base indicating that the plus-size market is underserved -- is advertising beginning to relax the rules and embrace the new American physique?