Before I watched the new Channel 4 documentary Plus Sized Wars, I thought I was quite clued up on the plus-size movement and body positivity. Now I know that similar to the fashion industry, I too had been living in ignorance — and not the blissful kind. I was actually quite shocked about what I didn't know, and if I'm being honest, I feel ashamed about this fact. How could I, a fashion journalist, be so oblivious to the trials and triumphs of plus-size women? I guess this is the problem with the entire industry, though. Far too many individuals within it don't know enough about this vital conversation.
During the show, former model and founder of modeling agency Milk Management, Anna Shillinglaw, informed viewers of the expansion of a plus-size division within her company. However the "plus-size" ladies Shillinglaw discussed were, for the most part, sizes 14 to 16 (12 to 14 U.S. sizes). Later in the show, however, we were reminded that iconic plus-size legend Tess Holliday (a.k.a. Tess Munster, who has an enormous online following), was recently signed by Milk Management as one of their plus-size models. Munster is a size 24 (U.S. 22), brunette bombshell, and she appears to have extended Milk's plus-size division's size range. She also created the online movement "EffYourBeautyStandards," inspiring many women of all sizes to love and be proud of their bodies. Holliday is proving that she is a fabulous and a force to be reckoned with.
So I wanted to share some of the other brilliant things I learned from Plus Sized Wars, because ignorance definitely isn't bliss.
1. Plus-size Bloggers Are Burning The Outdated Fashion Rule Book
Plus-size bloggers Danielle Vanier, Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, Callie Thorpe of From the Corners of the Curve, and Bethany Rutter of Arched Eyebrow discussed different "rules" that have been imposed upon them because of their sizes. For instance "steer clear of prints" and that they "can't wear white." They discussed these "rules" while trying on clothes that completely disproved them and Vanier concluded, "You wear anything, you're gonna' look fat if you have fat."
Thorpe commented, "I especially don't like to be told not to wear stuff," and who's to tell these fashionable women what they are "allowed" to wear?
2. Be Proud Of Yourself — The Self-Shaming Era Is Over
It was great to see these women loving themselves and being proud of who they are. Such confidence is not the kind of thing that young women are taught to possess, as Mean Girls exemplifies in the Mirror Scene. In fact, Mean Girls shows that young women often put themselves down in order to "fit in." I love that the incredible plus-size bloggers and models on Plus Sized Wars promote body positivity and show all women that it's okay to love themselves.
3. We Should All Just Say It Like It Is
A lot of people dance around the real issues of life, including topics surrounding plus-related activism. Being British (and I know I'm not speaking for everyone when I say this), I can vouch for the fact that a lot of us Brits are often too polite for our own good.
Thus, Bethany Rutter was a breath of fresh air when she told the other bloggers about her "cheese feast" the night before. She said, "I know for a fact that I will never lose a lot of weight unless I become seriously ill. Like last night I had my cheese feast where I bought three kinds of cheese and I just ate them and it's like... I don't think I deserve to be treated with less respect than anyone else because I eat three kinds of cheese for my dinner one night."
4. The Plus Movement Has Gone Global
I was so happy to find out that the plus-size movement is taking over the world and is not just limited to the U.K. or U.S.A. Plus Sized Wars introduced viewers to plus-size clothing label Taking Shape, which has conquered Australia and is now expanding into the U.K.
5. Plus-Size Bloggers Are Actually Changing The Fashion Industry
"Plus sized bloggers are seen as a bit of a revolution," Georgina Horne told viewers, "Brands are definitely realizing that bloggers are very good for them." This opinion was seconded by Tom Doran, PR Manager at Evans who told viewers, "They're a big commodity those girls. They can change brand's perceptions, they're really powerful." Finally, the fashion industry seems to be making big steps to becoming more diverse.
6. We Need To Celebrate People's Differences
"You do you and I'll do me," were the wise words spoken by Danielle Vanier. She is completely bang on the money with this statement. We are all different in our own unique ways; everyone has different bodies, hairstyles, fashion styles, personalities, and outlooks on life. We are all unique. These plus-size beauties are attempting to get the fashion industry to celebrate people's differences rather than just one specific beauty ideal — an ideal that was created by society, but can just as easily be eradicated.
7. The Plus-Size Community Is Full Of Love, Kindness, And Support
During this documentary there were many moments in which I thought I was going to burst into tears due to the kindness and compassion of the plus-size community. Thorpe told viewers, "We're very supportive of each other and what we do. I love them. Yeah they're such... they're babes... mega babes."
During the show, Tess Munster also attended a meet and greet in association with Yours Clothing in order to properly meet and talk to her fans. An up-and-coming blogger told Munster, "For years I got bullied in school and everyone made me feel so horrible and it wasn't until like you set up like 'EffYourBeautyStandards' and people made a community that I started to feel better about myself." Later when Munster was alone with the film crew she said, "I know what it's like to be 16 and feel like you're not good enough."
The fashion industry needs to take a long, hard look at itself and learn some lessons from these incredibly powerful women, who are not afraid to stand up for themselves and others to champion diversity.