Ashley Graham's Best And Worst Advice For Plus Size Women Because Body Positivity Is Complex
Recognized as of late for her TEDx talk on plus size modeling, during which she urged the fashion industry to stop using the term "plus size," Ashley Graham's styling tips for Glamour Magazine have come as a surprise. During her TEDx presentation, she boldly stated, “The fashion industry may persist to label me as plus size but I like to think of it as my size.” Graham's ideas are in keeping with the #DropThePlus campaign created by Ajay Rochester and Stefania Ferrario back in March. All three women essentially believe that the label of "plus size" is outdated, and that models should simply be called "models," without any prefixes.
On July 13, Glamour released an exclusive interview with Graham, in which she offers tips specifically for plus size women. And while I highly doubt that Graham has meant to upset or exclude anyone with her advice, some of her comments about the inclusion of body shaming terms have come as a shock. Of course, she also offers some truly helpful and inspiring perspectives, and overall, the article has a ton of positive messaging, too.
Graham is seeking to help women, and I'll definitely be applying some of her tips to my own wardrobe and shopping sessions! With a few tweaks, this list could've been perfect. Often, we don't realize our own internalized issues until somebody else points them out, and the realization is usually a very revolutionary moment. Here's hoping next time Graham will be able to dish out some similarly solid advice without any body shaming at all.
POSITIVE: "Don't worry about conventional style rules. Show your lingerie. Wear white on white. I wear skirts above my knees — even if I have some cellulite hanging out."
Too often, plus size fashion revolves around hiding what makes us plus size. Graham refuses to do this.
Another tip tells you to ignore rules about cellulite: "I was always told I can't wear silk because my cellulite shows through it. Guess what: I wear it all the time."
NEGATIVE: "Balance your body's proportions too."
Forcing everyone to fit the "hourglass" shape that's expected of all plus size women is an act of body shaming. Your body doesn't need balancing out, but body diversity does. Many plus sizers don't have a big bust, big hips, and a tiny waist; and that doesn't make them any less beautiful.
POSITIVE: "Rock a crop top."
Just in time for #rockthecrop, Graham promotes crop top wearing for plus size women, not just those with "flat stomachs," and even gives some helpful hints on how to style them.
NEGATIVE: "Find the perfect bra to create the perfect silhouette."
And what exactly is the "perfect" silhouette? Ashley Graham's advice on finding comfortable, supportive underwear could have been phrased differently, in a way that doesn't shame those who do not fit social conceptions of the "ideal" body shape.
POSITIVE: "Step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes plus size girls are afraid to go into high-end stores and try clothes on because they think they won't fit into them and they'll get judge-y looks. But who cares what the store clerk thinks? Step outside your boundaries and go shopping!"
This advice is so on point! Take a leaf out of Rachel Taylor's book and focus on loving yourself whilst shopping. Most people (those who aren't toxic body shamers) will be too busy shopping for themselves to notice you reaching for the back of a clothing display for your size.
NEGATIVE: "Learn the brands that cut favorably."
Here again, I feel Graham's body shaming lies solely in phrasing. What she says implies that there's a favorable way to look; what she probably means is that some brands will fit you better and more comfortably. Attention should always be paid to the way that we phrase things, because often a throwaway word may mean nothing to you, but could crush another person's confidence.