BENGALURU: There is a huge pressure on women to look good, and there always has been. What does it mean to be a ‘plus-sized’ women today? On one hand, it means being asked to change and aspire to fit into an unrealistic beauty standard. On the other, it also means finding fashionable clothing a daunting task. You would probably find Thor’s hammer faster than a stylish fit that’s also affordable for plus-sized women!
It’s no secret that there is a careless assumption that body fat is equal to being unfit. “Most people perceive plus-sized people to be lazy, slow, and also as a group of people that can’t look after themselves. It’s like an anti-fat attitude all over,” rues Riya, who recently became a mother. What she wasn’t expecting was the extent of de-sexualisation she’d feel when looking for clothes designed for plus-sized pregnant people. “Instead of cute tight dresses to show-off my baby bump, all I could find are potato sacks, and plain A-line tops,” she sighs.
Shopping, which is supposed to be fun, often turns into a harrowing experience. The stick-thin mannequins definitely don’t help either. “I’m a size 14 and have squeezed into a size 10 because it is so difficult to find clothes that fit! But if the only way to find a pair of jeans (that fits me) is to pay `5,000, then maybe it isn’t my body that’s the problem; it’s fast, affordable fashion,” avers a frustrated Shraddha.
If finding denims wasn’t hard enough, Priya adds another dimension to the dilemma and talks about swimsuits. “Speedos! Those are my only options. The half-dress swimsuits that cut off mid thigh and are in boring colours. I’m not asking for low-cut, slinky suits, that seem to make everyone around me uncomfortable, but I’m not expecting this either.” Anisha (name changed) is 5’2 and weighs around 80 kg, and finds it virtually impossible to find something that fits her well. “What fits my hips will be too long. What fits the length of my body will not come past my breasts!”
Which brings us to our next point: is there an ideal plus-size? While women are excited that stores are catering to bigger sizes and advertisements are finally looking at more realistic women, many don’t feel like the ‘body positivity’ movement is inclusive. “The majority of plus-sized women have flat stomachs, big breasts and wide hips,” Shraddha points out.
In this appearance-driven world, body positivity offers an alternative: diversity. Is this the end of the conversation? Absolutely not! This is the beginning of a movement that decentralises the emphasis on a particular ideal body and appreciates all shapes, sizes and colour. Take a step to love your curves and embrace your style, whatever skin you may hold.