Last night Channel 4 aired the one-off documentary Plus Sized Wars about the growth in plus size fashion and the role of bloggers in promoting body positivity.
As someone who has been both much larger than I am now and much smaller, I know how frustrating it can be to buy clothes that suit your figure and are nice.
The documentary follows the teams behind Evans, the UK’s biggest plus size brand and newcomers Yours and Taking Shape (an Aussie company recently launched in the UK).
For me Evans = frump. Which is an image they are trying to shake off with their Shape fitting service and hiring younger women to model their clothes. I have tried to shop in Evans, but the emphasis on baggy, shapeless clothes frustrates me. I tend to buy things from their sister shop Dorothy Perkins instead (they go up to a UK 22).
I wear somewhere between 16/18/20 depending on the item, cut and fit on the high street. No two shops offer the exact same fit in the size.
The average UK woman wears a 16. So for most shops to not cater for larger sizes means they’re missing out and the plus size stores are racking in a fortune.
The bloggers and models they featured range from Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust who is a curvy 16, to Tess Holliday (professional model not blogger) size 24, Callie Thorne of From the Edges of the Curve to several other girls I follow on Instagram (just go raid my feed for more) and for some truly gorgeous pictures follow these women.
I tend to shop online, I know I can always send things back, can try them on at home without the awkwardness of the changing room where the curtain is slightly too small.
Online is where plus size brands have found their market. From ASOS Curve to Boohoo Plus, Simply Be to Lady Voluptuous (I own two of the dresses in this range) and beyond. Without physical shops, overheads are low, so prices can be too. Many of these ranges are determined to avoid frumpy, poorly fitting, sacks for the larger body, and aim to deliver stylish, well fitted, trendy clothes. Which is what is wanted.
The show aired on the same day that former popstar Jamelia said on another TV show that shops shouldn’t sell larger sizes and fat women should be uncomfortable shopping. Presumably she has never had a friend, sister, daughter or mother with her who was above a size 12.
Leaving aside the fact that she’s not a doctor, many weight gains are caused by medical conditions and fat doesn’t equal unhealthy in every case, she has been lambasted for her comments. As a mother of two teenagers I hope her daughters don’t worry about their weight, or take onboard her comments. Enough teenage girls (and boys) harm themselves or even commit suicide because they don’t fit into a narrow body stereotype.
What we say hurts. One of the bloggers interviewed for the show last night spoke of how she had been badly bullied about her size and how it had taken her a long time to regain self-confidence.
I would love to see more examples of varying body types on TV and in print. Just to reassure those teenagers that they’re ok, they’re normal. That as long as you’re healthy it doesn’t matter what the number in your clothes is.
Overall I thought it was a balanced look at the plus size fashion world (although the woman from Milk modelling agency was pretty repellent) that tried to show a range of bodies like you might see every day, rather than the TV idea of fat – a size 12 to 14 rather than a 10.
Did you want Plus Sized Wars? What did you think? And what about Jamelia’s comments? Let me know below. 🙂