Popular Culture

Is The Term ‘Plus Size’ Really Offensive? Model Tess Holliday Weighs In


o-TESS-HOLLIDAY-facebookBody image issues are being talked about more than ever in 2015. Stars like Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson often offer their celebrity and talent as faces of the healthy body image movement, and companies are following suit on their example to include women of all sizes in their campaigns and in their products on offer.

Companies like Modcloth and Lane Bryant have altered their marketing and shopping methods. Modcloth has removed their Plus Size dedicated section from their site, instead integrating choices for larger sizes within the site at large. Lane Bryant jumpstarted the campaign “#PlusIsEqual,” asserting that the term “plus-size” gives the impression that being larger than a size 14 isn’t as good as being thinner, and that it gives larger women an unhealthy distinction that leads to poor body image.

Some people have advocated that the term “plus size” be stricken from language, because it adds to the stigma, but one notable advocate for healthy body image is speaking out: “Plus-size” model and activist Tess Holliday.

Tess made her fame on her espousal of body-positive attitudes, and became the first size 22 supermodel. She’s always vocal about her stances on body image and body positivity, and now she’s weighing in on the “plus size” debate: is the terminology offensive or empowering?

Earlier this week, Tess tweeted her support of the term “plus size,” arguing that eliminating the term adds to its stigma, instead of erasing it. She said:

Tess argues that those who want to strike the term “plus size” are really acting in shame, while those who are against the use of the term argue that it’s harmful for body image and creates divides between women of different sizes.

So, offensive or empowering?

I think it depends on the context, and on the person. Holliday uses the term for empowerment and for furthering her cause for body positivity, while others take offense with a term that seems to treat larger women as inferiors.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, folks. There’s no shame in being plus, and there’s no shame in wishing that the world would stop categorizing your body.

Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.

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