Ah, the great "Plus Size" debate – with boundaries and specifications so vague and ever-changing that no one could keep track of it. According to the Cambridge dictionary, the term "plus-size" means "a size of clothing designed for people who are larger than average or used to describe someone larger than average in size." Because we're talking about average sizes, we need to take into consideration the context or background of someone because the average woman in Asia is different from Caucasian women.
Therefore, being plus size is not a sin, nor does it automatically equate to someone living an unhealthy lifestyle. It's important to note that there is a difference between "plus-size" and "obese." The good news is that more and more women today are speaking out and encouraging everyone to be comfortable in their skins.
Was Bullied or Mocked Because You Were Plus Size?
It's heartbreaking to read about women's' stories of bullying just because they don't "look average." No one should have to go through an identity crisis just because they look different from others.
There are numerous websites focused on providing an avenue for kids, teens, young adults, and adults to share their experiences with fat-shaming. You'd be surprised how heart-wrenching their stories are and how bullying leaves a permanent on someone's life.
An anonymous teen wrote in Teens against Bullying how she's been bullied her whole schooling life. "I've cried in the bathroom, taken mental health days to get away from it, sat by myself at lunch, and lost a lot of friends along the way."
"I'm so self-conscious because of bullying and it has really affected my personality," she wrote.
She then shared her most recent attack: I'm a dancer, so on Instagram, I posted my dance pictures for the beginning of the new competition season. The next day I was at school, and all day kids kept coming up to me. They were saying things like, "ugly" "double chin" "fatty," and a "prostitute" for wearing a leotard like I was supposed to. I was crushed and so down on myself. The bullying didn't stop there when I went home, I got snapchats, text messages, and Instagram DM's saying the same or worse things about my appearance or just because I posted something on Instagram.
Another woman wrote:
"I am a 30-year-old female who – despite weighing less than many people I see on the street every day – am constantly being fat-shamed by strange men over my thighs. Admittedly, my thighs are larger in proportion to the rest of my body, but I don't see why that's anyone else's business or why it's such a big deal, and I have to be told I'm fat several times a day. Actually, according to my BMI, at 5″3 and 119 pounds, I'm on the leaner side of normal, but because of the hurtful comments, these men make every day I can't accept the way that I look. I'm obsessed with toning and slimming down my thighs, and I worry that these people have already caused a dysmorphic disorder in me."
12 Plus Size Celebrities Proud and Confident of Their Body
Because of the effects of body-shaming and the unhealthy stigma that society, from social media and magazines to fashion runways, have on women, many celebrities have taken a stand on being confident with one's body.
Below are examples of women that we can look up to if you've ever been a victim of body shaming. You'd be surprised that some of these women were even considered to be plus-sized.
Source: Instagram/ @adele
Adele might not be slim in the world's eyes, but she definitely does not let the criticisms get to her or her 15 Grammy Awards, 18 Billboard Music Awards, Golden Globe Award and Academy Award (to name a few).
She admits having problems with her "body image" but adds that she has more significant issues to handle. "I do have body image problems, but I don't let them rule my life at all. And there are bigger issues going on in the world than how I might feel about myself and stuff like that."
2. Oprah Winfrey
Source: Instagram/ @oprah
Ms. Winfrey, commonly noted as the queen of talk, is another celebrity well-acquainted with body-shamers. She puts a new perspective on how much time and energy is wasted if a woman focuses on body image alone. "I think of all the years I've wasted hating myself fat, wanting myself thin. Feeling guilty about every croissant, then giving up carbs, then fasting, then dieting, then worrying when I wasn't dieting, then eating everything I wanted until the next diet. All that energy I could have spent loving what is."
Source: Instagram/ @beyonce
Queen B is all about female empowerment. Just listen to any of her iconic songs if you need that quick confidence and morale boost. When Beyoncé was the target of backlash when her weight fluctuated, her response was writing and releasing the Bootylicious track.
"I wrote that because, at the time, I'd gained some weight and the pressure that people put you under, the pressure to be thin, is unbelievable," said the super relatable pop star. "I was just 18 and you shouldn't be thinking about that. You should be thinking about building up your character and having fun, and the song was just telling everyone to just forget what people are saying, you're bootylicious," added the inspirational Beyoncé.
4. America Ferrera
Source: Instagram/ @americaferrera
The star of Real Women Has Curves went straight to the point when someone from Glamour magazine asked the actress how she felt about being a spokeswoman for curvy women. "I'm a regular-size person," said Ms. Ferrera. "I'm a size 6 or 8, which is totally normal. Sometimes I worry more about losing weight than gaining weight because this is how people know and accept me. I do feel like if I wanted to get in better shape, there might be a backlash of, 'Why isn't she comfortable with herself anymore?'" There's no pleasing the critics, right?
5. Mariah Carey
Source: Instagram/ @mariahcarey
Ladies, let's face it when we become mothers, it's not easy to shed that post-pregnancy weight. Mariah Carey wasn't spared the conflict, even before she became pregnant! People wondered if the singer was expecting a baby or "was she just fat?"
"Everyone said I was fat," said Ms. Carey. The artist didn't let the comments get to her and instead did something about it. She worked out and made sure that she was healthy, even if she wasn't a size 0.
6. Melissa McCarthy
Source: Instagram/ @melissamccarthy
You can't watch Melissa McCarthy on TV without laughing. She is considered one of the most influential women when it comes to body positivity, which exudes every time she goes into the public eye. Her high spirits and confidence are so contagious; you can't help but be comfortable in your skin.
"With women, there's this constant weird cultural thing where we're always supposed to be comparing ourselves with one another," said the actress in an interview with Redbook. She's well-accustomed to the comparisons and criticisms and instead imposes the following perception on the matter: "How about if everyone wins? How intensely boring would it be if we were all the same?" Spot on, Ms. McCarthy.
7. Christina Aguilera
Source: Instagram/ @xtina
We all know Christina Aguilera to be petite when she started gaining her spot in the limelight. However, after her separation with husband Jordan Bratman in 2010, the pop star put on a few pounds. Fans and the media didn't let this pass without a notice and called her "fat" and made the frequent deduction that she was pregnant.
Regardless of the criticisms, Christina continued shining and sharing her expertise with aspiring singers. She told Company magazine that "whatever size women are, we shouldn't be ashamed of ourselves or our bodies." Today, many adore Aguilera's look, curves, and all.
8. Serena Williams
Source: Instagram/ @serenawilliams
Even an international athlete can't escape body shaming. Luckily for us, Williams has never been afraid to speak out. When called "a guy" because of her muscular frame, she said, "This is me, and this is my weapon and machine." Yes! She wouldn't have won 23 major singles titles (the most by any man or woman in the Open Era) without her amazing biceps.
9. Jennifer Hudson
Source: Instagram/ @iamjhud
Jennifer Hudson never gave the idea a second thought until an interviewer asked her how it felt to be a plus-sized celebrity in Hollywood. Ms. Hudson was caught unaware and even looked around to confirm if she was the plus-size person. "In the neighborhood I'm from in Chicago, a size 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out," said the American Idol. To ensure that it was only her that got the last laugh, Jennifer continues to advocate body positivity while following a healthy lifestyle.
10. Amy Schumer
Source: Instagram/ @amyschumer
Would you believe that Amy Schumer was categorized as plus size? "Plus size is considered size 16 in America," said the stand-up comedian and actress. "I go between size 6 and an 8 yet I was placed in Glamour's plus size only issue without my consent and it doesn't feel right to me."
When a fan altered a photo of Amy on Instagram and commented on how the actress looked better thinner, Amy replied with, "I disagree. I like how I really look. That's my body. I love my body for being strong and healthy and sexy." Thankfully, her response was taken with no offense and the fan ended up apologizing. You go, girl!
11. Demi Lovato
Source: Instagram/ @ddlovato
Imagine going through an eating disorder, being insecure about your body, doing something about it, and still getting bashed in social media. Yes, all of that happened to the gorgeous Demi Lovato. Instead of letting those circumstances douse her fire, the power singer fought back and is now a champion for body positivity.
"I was on Instagram and I started comparing myself to these IG models," said the totally-relatable celebrity. "I thought to myself; someone needs to show my fans and anybody that's looking at my account that what you see isn't always what's real." So she posted three un-retouched photos of herself to prove her point and wrote, "no thigh gap for me, and yet I still love myself."
12. Tess Holliday
Source: Instagram/ @tessholiday
The plus-size model Tess Holliday whole-heartedly accepts her body size and never let the bashers get her down. She considers it essential for young women to be comfortable with their body size even if its "big." "They have something to identify with," says the model referring to herself. "I'm really a firm believer in calling it what it is."
Inspiring Quotes And Learnings From These Celebrities
"I enjoy being me; I always have done. I've seen people where it rules their lives, you know, who want to be thinner or have bigger boobs, and it wears them down. And I don't want that in my life."
"I know that I am more than my personality, my body, and my body image."
"Be healthy and take care of yourself. But be happy with the beautiful things that make you you."
"Take your time and your talent and figure out what you have to contribute to this world. And get over what the hell your butt looks like in those jeans!"
"You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, 'I'm proud of what I am and who I am, and I'm just going to be myself.'"
"Pretty much everyone I know, no matter what size, is trying some system. Even when someone gets to looking like she should be so proud of herself, instead she's like, "I could be another three pounds less; I could be a little taller and have bigger lips." Where does it end?"
"It's important to embrace the things you might define as so-called imperfections — because something that you might call an imperfection, someone else might find so amazing and so beautiful."
"My arms might not look like the girl over there or my legs might not look like someone else or my butt or my body or my anything, if they [do] have a problem with it then I look them in the eye and say, 'If you don't like it, I don't want you to like it. I'm not asking you to like it."
"You've got to embrace yourself. Love what skin you're in."
"It's really exciting for me to be in a position to say, what about loving yourself how you are. What about saying this is how I look and I'm beautiful and I'm strong... You're not going to be what everybody loves. But you have to love yourself. Making the decision to do that is something you can actually do"
"I don't have to lie to myself and tell myself I have an amazing body. All I have to say is, 'I'm healthy.' In that statement, I express gratitude. I am grateful for my strength and the things I can do with my body. I am saying I'm healthy and I accept the way my body is today without changing anything."
"It's all about accepting yourself the way you are. If you want to work towards a better you in whatever regards…do it. But you're okay just the way you are today."
There's not much left to say after all the inspirational words from our role models. For those who have received hurtful words and body shaming, keep your chin up. Take a glance at what these superwomen have to say and realize that body positivity is so much more fun than worrying! (It diminishes the appearance of wrinkles as well!)
Here's to loving our bodies more!