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Retailers Offering More Options for the "Woman of Size"

Retailers Offering More Options For the "Woman of Size"

"When you’re fat you stand out anyway. It’s really important to go all the way and do something fun or even outrageous with your clothes."

— Annie Maribona, founder and part owner of Fat Fancy, a boutique in Portland, OR, that sells modern and vintage clothes up to size 24. (Pictured is Emme, one of the most famous plus-size models.)

Retailers are increasingly providing plus-size fashions to teens and women who wear sizes 14-24. Singer Beth Ditto, complaining to trendy London-based Topshop that they had nothing for women her size, is now designing a line for the Arcadia Group, Topshop's parent company. Forever 21, Kmart, and Lord & Taylor also provide their fashions in plus sizes. Some stores, like Old Navy and Ann Taylor, no longer carry plus-size clothes in their stores, but still have them available online.

One interesting thing I noticed in this news story was the variety of words used to name women who are not thin. Some, like boutique owner Annie Maribona, have reclaimed the word "fat," as have women who advocate what they call fat acceptance. Then there's plus size, "woman of size," big girl and curvy. The only person in the article who didn't use these euphemisms was Andrea Marks, a specialist in adolescent medicine in Manhattan. She simply calls women who aren't thin "overweight."

What do you think about the idea of "fat acceptance," and what is the best term for a woman who isn't a size 12 or under?

Image Source: Getty
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I've just hit size 14 (I call it my winter layer as I'm always 14 in the middle of winter and 10 during summer) and I have a lot of trouble finding clothes that doesn't make me look pregnant. Personally I'd call someone who is above a size 12 BEAUTIFUL!
Rouge-Noir Rouge-Noir 8 years
... last sentence was supposed to say: which is *WHY* a size 12 may feel like a size 16 to one woman and a size 8 to another.
Rouge-Noir Rouge-Noir 8 years
I've heard the term "real size" used. If viewed in the light of the average American woman, it might be the proper term to use, but judging from some of the above comments, it may be controversial. The term "woman of size" is totally hilarious. C'mon now, all women are of a certain size, whether petite, average or big:-) I also agree with Margokhal that the size of clothing is highly dependent on the cut and/or the business strategies of the designer/retailer, which is a size 12 may feel like a size 16 to one woman and a size 8 to another.
marcied23 marcied23 8 years
wow spacekat, i am totally on a weight loss journey right now and you are my inspiration! but on to the question, there shouldn't be a "fat acceptance" but a movement to love yourself for who you are, (no matter what size) but also americans need to start eating healthier and working out more. more and more pe is being cut from school programs and kids are staying in more on the computer or playing video games. if we put more emphasis on being healthy and loving taking care of your body, people would be happier as a whole.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
A size 12 would be perfect for me medically, especially from where I'm starting at now [size 18/20]. Does this make me fat? I don't think so. Clothing designers simply want your money. They charge so much more for larger clothes, and many times the quality and selection goes down dramatically when designers attempt to expand their size ranges. You can't reclaim the word "fat". It will always have negative connotations as long as EVERYONE ELSE thinks of it that way. It's the same way racial slurs can't be reclaimed [as much as people want to say black people have taken back the n-word, it STILL has a generally negative connotation. If somebody called YOU an n-word, would you be proud or appalled? Enough said.] You shouldn't *want* them. Also, Faith 21 is a joke. Their idea of "plus-size" only goes from 12 - 16, and everything is cut VERY NARROW. So it's really more for taller people.
Meike Meike 8 years
Okay, really, where does describing a person as 'fat' begin? If by fat, you mean obese, then I have a hard time believing that person is healthy the same way I have a hard time believing an anorexic person is healthy. Whether you're on the heavier or lighter side, we can all agree that those with inactive lifestyles and whom eat nothing but junk food aren't doing much for their health. 'Fat acceptance' is great and all but studies show that Americans have grown fatter by the decades. Let's not be naive. Americans on average were much slimmer 50 years ago. Their diet has changed significantly and not in a good way. The only good I see from 'fat acceptance' is that people who gripe about not being a smaller size will finally accept themselves and won't cause greedy clothing companies to 'vanity-size' their products to appeal to these people with low self-esteems i.e. putting a smaller size number on a larger piece of clothing. I've seen my waist-line in clothes from some companies go from a size '2' to a '1' to a '0' over the past years. Trust me, I have not lost any wait nor inches off my waist. And, now they've create a freaking size '00' for people smaller than me??? I hate for the day when a triple '0' comes into existence. How zero can one get? Or maybe we'll go size 'negatives'.
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 8 years
I am not for fat acceptance; but, rather healthy living. Also, I don't equate the word, "curvy" with plus-size at all.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
My problem is that I can't get tops to fit me right due to my large breasts and smaller frame. It sucks, I have to buy larger tops just so they fit over my breasts, the same for swimsuits and bras.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
How many women in Hollywood are skinny and unhealthy? Skinny does not equal healthy -- just like fat does not equal unhealthy.
stephaniegee stephaniegee 8 years
No matter what we think of their size, everyone needs clothes to wear! It's cruel to not provide the same fashion choices to bigger women.
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
I have to agree that being thin does not necessarily mean you are healthy. I agree with Bella, I know a lot of people who are thin and NEVER work out, and a lot that aren't & work out all the time. It's not healthy to eat crap all the time, even if you can. That being said. This is all about marketing. You wouldn't be talking about it here if it weren't making a big deal in the press. Being "over the top" in marketing is just one way to get attention. I think it's dumb. Just go get the size that fits you, who cares what it's called or where you get it from, just please, get things that fit.
Lyngay Lyngay 8 years
"there is no such thing as being fat and healthy. " WRONG. But thanks for buying into the hype. Fitness is a state that can be found at any size. And unhealthy and unfit can be someone who is fat OR thin. I'm fat. I'm not unhealthy. Believe it! My blood pressure, my blood sugar, my cholesterol, my thyroid, my heart, my lung capacity... all in perfect working order. There are plenty of women like me who can keep up with our thinner peers in terms of strength and activity and are still fat. Science has not found a way to make a skinny person fat and keep him/her that way. So what makes you think a fat people can make themselves skinny and keep them that way? I believe in health at any size and as long as I feel good and I'm in good health then that's all that matters.
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
Sorry, but just because the average size for women in America is 14 doesn't make it a small size. Maybe by comparison, but it is not a small size for any woman.
kia kia 8 years
I am not for "fat acceptance" for the same reason the designers and retailers are, they just want your money and MANY people are fat these days. It is true that medically there are some people that can't or have an extremely hard time losing weight. That is not everyone and the public should be educated in that matter. There are more people out there that could adhere to a healthier lifestyle and perhaps find themselves in a smaller size bracket. If consuming unhealthy foods and leading a lifestyle that throws your hormones out of whack is a medical excuse to be fat, then people should put themselves in check and realize they are fat by their own doing. People on steroids for serious medical conditions and the like cope with being fat but know they are in situations that could not be prevented, not the same thing.
Beauty Beauty 8 years
Fat is not a four-letter word, and fat-shaming really bothers me. I think it's best to encourage everybody — fat, skinny, in between — to eat healthy foods and move around. But it bugs me that so many people are quick to judge people on their size. I'm thin but honestly, I never work out and am probably really out of shape; I have friends who wear a size 14 or 16, and they go to the gym daily and are in better condition than I am. So you can't tell how healthy someone is or isn't just by looking at her size. FWIW, I don't think a size 12 is a "big" size. It isn't bad to be a big size, but it's odd to me that retailers think size 12 is soooooo big, when it's actually smaller than what the average American woman wears.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Truthfully, I'm okay with "fat acceptance" when it comes to other people. If they're okay with their weight, so am I. The bottom line is that THEIR weight makes no difference to me. Their weight is their business, not mine. With that said, for MYSELF, it's another story. I prefer to be fit, petite, and shapely. I feel my best, and look my best when I am. That's MY preference for myself. When it comes to describing overweight (obese) people, I would say someone is heavy.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 8 years
This is a comment from the NYT article and I'm posting it here because it made a lot of sense. One more thing bigger =/= unhealthy, just the same as thin =/= healthy "I can only imagine that the bulk of the comments will criticize the manufacturers (or the women) for accepting the reality that heavy people would also like to dress fashionably. But as an extremely active person with a "scientifically correct" BMI, I would like to stand up for my higher-BMI sisters. As former head of the FDA Dr. David Kessler has proved, you can be incredibly disciplined and still have serious problems losing weight and keeping it off. (I strongly recommend his book, "The End of Overeating") which posits that conditioned overeating is a "biological challenge, and not a character flaw." Very few people who feel badly about themselves can sustain the difficult process of weight loss and maintenance, or adopting a more active lifestyle. But heavier women who do feel good about themselves are more likely to take good care of their bodies, to watch their diets, to pay attention to the environmental pitfalls that cause them to put on weight, and to become and remain physically active. Heavier women who feel good about themselves are also less likely to engage in compulsive overeating. As an ex-health care worker, I am upset about what overweight and obesity related illness does to people. But I don't hate heavy people. And one of the best ways we can help people get active and get healthy is to stop treating them with so much contempt. And yes, that includes including them in the retail fashion environment."
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I'm not down with "fat acceptance." It seems irresponsible to me to start a movement accepting something that's admittedly terrible for your health.
gabi29 gabi29 8 years
While I can understand that a lack of clothing in one's size is frustrating, I don't think the fashion world should be building a culture to celebrate being overweight. No matter how you try to dress it up, being overweight is not beautiful in terms of the detriment it has on a woman's health.
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
I don't know if I am for "fat acceptance" because it's like saying that I support being unhealthy. I don't think I can do that. I have nothing against people that are over weight and I support being comfortable with yourself, but I cannot support being unhealthy and there is no such thing as being fat and healthy.
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
I don't have any opinion on what we call bigger sizes, but I think Annie Maribona's advice is really bad! If you're like a size 16 or 18 (or above), I don't think it's wise to dress "outrageously".
stylinfabqueen stylinfabqueen 8 years
It's so funny you posted about it because I did a podcast on this very topic after seeing reading the NY Times...check it out:
wackydeli wackydeli 8 years
funny when i go shopping it seems clothes are all geared toward bigger women,i have to shop in the freaken kids department to get anything small enough and im not that tiny!
Love-and-Sex Love-and-Sex 8 years
Whoops, Jabbadoo. My bad...size 12 and under.
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