All Women Are Real Women: Why “Real Women Have Curves” Doesn’t Promote Body Positivity

Posted by on November 15, 2013

Whenever I read articles about plus-size models, I usually see comments like, “Curvy women are the best,” or “Real women have curves,” or “She’s not plus-size, she’s just a real woman.” These remarks make me absolutely cringe with horror. I think that there’s something inherently problematic with defining or categorizing women at all based on their body type.

There are no guidelines that a woman has to follow in order to be defined as a “real woman.” Real women can have curves, that is true, but real women can also be stick thin, real women can have long hair or pixie cuts, real women can burst out of DD bras or have barely-there A cups – there is no right or wrong way to be a woman.

Here’s a really simple test to see if a woman is a real woman: does the individual call themselves a woman? If, yes, then congratulations! They’re a real woman. It’s really that simple.

Your size does not define your womanhood.

Your size does not define your womanhood.

Real women have bodies. So as long as you’re not trying to call a wisp of smoke floating out of a chimney a woman, then you’re pretty much okay with calling any woman a real woman.

Now, I’m as much of a fan as anyone of fellow curvy girl America Ferrera’s 2002 film Real Women Have Curves, I thought it was well-acted and dealt a lot with multigenerational matriarchal dynamics, which are obviously kind of awesome! But, that title kills me. If you are saying that real women have curves, then there is an inherent implication that women who do not have the Marilyn Monroe hourglass are somehow less of a woman than their more well-endowed sisters.

There is health at every size, there is insecurity at every size, and there is beauty at every size.

There is health at every size, there is insecurity at every size, and there is beauty at every size.

In a great Jezebel article from 2011 that I bookmarked, writer Hugo Schwyzer talks about the awful dichotomy that this statement creates. “A new double-bind for women was born: those who met the skinny ideal could now be labeled ‘unreal,’ and those who were still shamed for being heavy were now encouraged to take some sort of comfort in being more ‘legitimate’ than their slender sisters,” Schwyzer writes.

Plus-size women are consistently discriminated against – by clothing manufacturers, designers, doctors, and even employers – but that does not mean that thin women are completely free from prejudice. I’m going to make a blanket statement here and say that it is still probably easier to be a size 2 than a size 22, but women who are incredibly thin do often have to deal with whispers of anorexia and criticism of their eating habits, as well. Just because someone is thin, that does not mean that they are happy or confident with how they look.

I am proud of my figure and I love my curves, but that does not mean that I need to put other women down to feel good about my body.

I am proud of my figure and I love my curves, but that does not mean that I need to put other women down to feel good about my body.

What people don’t seem to recognize, on either side of the aisle, is that whether you’re overweight or underweight, so much of your body type comes down to genetics. So much of this skinny versus fat debate also comes down to the idea that “healthy is best.” However, healthy can look so different. Just because someone is overweight it does not mean that they are diabetic ,and just because someone is thin it does not mean that they are anorexic or malnourished. We need to stop judging people based on their bodies. End of story.

I would recommend checking out the blog “The Skinny Girl Problems” for perspective on some of the struggles that women with different body types face. Personally, this line from a post about the issues with the statement “Real Women Have Curves” really spoke to me: “Do not claim to be anti-bullying and body positive and at the next turn, be hypocritical. Don’t claim ‘all bodies are beautiful’ and then the next day say ‘only dogs like bones’ or ‘skinny women are evil.’ That is not body positive. Skinny girls face insecurities too, and your hypocrisy is a part of that.”

What do you feel about the phrase “Real Women Have Curves?” Tell me in the comments.

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Cultivating Our Curves With Plus-Size Fashion Blogger Sarah Jerilinn

Posted by on November 14, 2013

Sarah Jerilinn, 35, is the full-time finance manager for a large California winery in Sonoma’s wine country, as well as a full-time fashionista. She recently decided to pursue a lifelong dream and go to design school so she can translate her love of the “Fatshion” movement into beautiful clothes for other plus-size women.

The ‘Fatshion’ community on Tumblr is amazing, authentic, and continues to be my greatest source of inspiration,” says Sarah. “It has inspired me to take a big step and fulfill a lifelong dream of mine to attend design school. I want to make beautiful clothes for these women.”

Sarah is inspired by art and music, and when she's not working, she spends as much time as possible being creative. She loves to sew, paint, and do other creative things that make her happy. Credit: Sarah Jerilinn

Sarah is inspired by art and music, and when she’s not working, she spends as much time as possible being creative. She loves to sew, paint, and do other creative things that make her happy. Credit: Sarah Jerilinn

Sarah is taking a big step and heading to fashion design school in San Francisco in January, where she will continue working full-time while going to school part-time for her design degree. She’s planning on launching a new website on January 1st, on which she’ll continue doing her fabulous “Outfit of the Day” posts, which are currently showcased on her Tumblr, but she is also going to start exploring additional content like DIY’s, plus-size fashion tutorials, videos, and news. Sarah is also planning on blogging about her experiences in design school.

Personally, I can’t wait to her about it. It takes a lot of courage to go back to school and pursue a lifelong dream and I can’t wait to see the beautiful designs that Sarah is going to be turning out, especially since Sarah is eventually planning on creating a collection to sell online. Sarah took some time out of her busy life to talk with IGIGI (over email) and discuss her design aesthetic, her plus-size inspirations, and her life in the blog-o-sphere.

JaneWhat was the moment when you realized that you were interested in pursuing fashion?

Sarah: My grandmother was a seamstress. She taught me to sew when I was around 6 years old. I can remember her strapping a wooden block to the top of the sewing machine pedal because my legs weren’t long enough to reach it.  It wasn’t long before I was designing and making my dolls clothes. I have loved fashion and sewing ever since.

Sarah describes her style as classic and feminine. She's strongly attracted to floral prints and bold colors. Credit: Sarah Jerilinn

Sarah describes her style as classic and feminine. She’s strongly attracted to floral prints and bold colors. Credit: Sarah Jerilinn

JaneWhere do you think that you get your fashion and design inspiration from?

Sarah: I find fashion inspiration all around me. I work in a tourist-saturated town and I like to go out on the square and people watch. I spend way too many hours on the Internet during fashion week, watching the shows in New York and Paris.  I also follow a ton of plus-size and straight-size style bloggers and designers on BloglovinInstagram, and Pinterest.  But, my absolute favorite source of fashion inspiration comes from Tumblr. I am constantly inspired by the women I see posting pics, taking risks and having so much fun with fashion.

Jane: Yes! So many women that I talk to absolutely love the online plus-size fashion community and the support there, myself included. Just out of curiosity, is there anything that you don’t love about that community?

Sarah: Yes, I’ve noticed a trend recently; a lot of my favorite plus-size bloggers are doing more and more sponsored posts.  Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing sponsored posts as long as there’s real authenticity behind what you are saying.  However, in some instances, I’ve felt like some of my favorite bloggers are being paid to do PR damage control rather than speak from the heart, and it has seriously diminished my interest in their style and opinions.

Sarah believes in wearing clothing that feels right to her, which ends up being lots of dresses and skirts. She doesn't wear trends for the sake of being in style. Instead, she prefers to stick with classic silhouettes and styles that flatter her curvy shape. Credit: Sarah Jerilinn

Sarah believes in wearing clothing that feels right to her, which ends up being lots of dresses and skirts. She doesn’t wear trends for the sake of being in style. Instead, she prefers to stick with classic silhouettes and styles that flatter her curvy shape. Credit: Sarah Jerilinn

JaneWhat steps do you take when you’re looking for some outfit inspiration, and what advice would you give to women who are finding themselves in a fashion rut?

Sarah: The first thing I do when I’m in a rut is shop my own closet. I keep all of my clothing organized by color to make it easy to find what that I’m looking for. I will pull out an item and try to come up with three new ways to style it. I also keep a list of items that I’d like to add to my wardrobe. Once you evaluate what you have, you may realize that just a couple of new items would inspire you to try some new ways of wearing what you’ve already got. I keep a folder of bookmarks with every online plus-size retailer I’ve ever found. Sometimes, I will get my inspiration from doing some online window shopping. It could be the colors or the way a retailer has styled an outfit that inspires me, but I often get good inspiration this way. I have a fashion inspiration board on Pinterest where I keep my inspirations for the next season pinned. I’m keeping my eye out right now for what I want to be wearing next spring and it helps keeps me inspired throughout the year.

Jane: Do you do most of your shopping online? I know that I, personally, really struggle with shopping in brick-and-mortar stores just because there are so few options available in my size. Have you ever dealt with any size-discrimination?

Sarah: Every time I go into a department store and the plus-size clothing selection is on a different floor or tucked into the back corner, I feel a little sick to my stomach. Every time I go into a store and there are 500 racks of straight sized women’s clothing and two small racks of plus-size clothing, I feel less important than the other women shopping there. Every time I go into a store to be told that my size is only available online, I feel a little embarrassed. I realize that these retailers are under no obligations to cater to plus sized women. Likewise, I’ve realized that I do not have to spend a cent in their stores. I have a list of places where I do not shop ever, not for my household, not for gifts, not for my husband. I am not ashamed of myself, but if you are too ashamed to carry a decent selection of my sizes in your store than you do not get any of my money.

If you want to dress like Sarah, she recommends trying out the IGIGI Hanna Coat in Navy. She thinks it’s gorgeous, simple, and looks to be the perfect length to wear over dresses this winter. She would accessorize it with a colorful scarf or a bold necklace, or even a great faux fur collar.

To keep up with Sarah, you can follow her on her Tumblr, her Instagram or her Pinterest, and make sure to comment!

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Plus-size Model Robyn Lawley Doesn’t Have A Thigh Gap Either, And She’s Cool With It

Posted by on November 13, 2013

Robyn Lawley is really blowing up right now. Her own swimsuit line, a Ralph Lauren campaign, and a Vogue Italia cover are just some of the credentials that the 24-year-old now has on her resume.

The gorgeous, Australian plus-size model wrote an awesome October editorial, titled “Why The Dangerous ‘Thigh Gap’ Trend Makes Me Mad,” for the Daily Beast after a photo of her in a corset appeared in a Facebook group for proponents of thigh gaps. But, GASP! Lawley does not have a thigh gap (like most women), and so the trim US size 12 model was called “pig,” “hefty,” and “too fat,” among other more unpleasant comments by responders.

Robin Lawley

This is the picture of Lawley that appeared on the pro-thigh gap Facebook page. Credit: Robyn Lawley via the Daily Beast

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Lululemon Founder Blames Product Performance on Plus-Size Women’s Thighs

Posted by on November 12, 2013

While size discrimination amongst mainstream retailers certainly isn’t new, it always takes me by surprise whenever a company comes out as specifically and definitely against plus-size women.

I feel like I should know better by this point, since we’re living in a post Mike Jeffries world, where fat customers are automatically categorized as uncool and undesirable, and yet when I saw the Bloomberg TV interview in which Lululemon founder Chip Wilson blamed women’s meaty thighs for ruining his fancy yoga pants, my jaw actually dropped.

Here's a screenshot of Lululemon founders Chip and Sharon Wilson during their disastrous Bloomberg TV Interview. Credit: Bloomberg TV

Here’s a screenshot of Lululemon founders Chip and Sharon Wilson during their disastrous Bloomberg TV Interview. Credit: Bloomberg TV

“Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it,” were Wilson’s exact words. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

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Celebrating Plus-Size Bodies In Art: Our Favorite Body Positive Artists

Posted by on November 11, 2013

Since the Venus of Willendorf, plus-size bodies have been depicted and celebrated in art – and they should be, because they are absolutely beautiful! I recently came across the blog “Fat People Art,” which serves as an aggregator of mostly modern (and some historical) drawings and paintings of plus-size bodies. Many of the figures are female, but there are depictions of men as well.

Submission on "Fat People Art"

This image was submitted to “Fat People Art” by a contributing blogger. Credit: Kayezilla

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