A “Plus-Sized” Rant on Wedding Fashion

Does the wedding industry think they’re doing us a favor by doing editorial coverage on bridal gowns with headlines like “Here are 4 body types and the wonderfully wearable gowns that play up their positives” (thanks for that one, Brides Magazine) or “Small on top, ubercurvy down below? Bring balance with an awesome A-line”.

Please.  These types of features make me want to puke.  Or starve.  Or both.  It’s no wonder women have body issues. The photos of the women above have been labeled on line and in magazines as “plus sized” brides.  Both of these women are probably a size  10.  They look beautiful and glowing to me–not like the typical gown ad with a hunched over, pale faced bride who looks like she’s recovering from a nasty bout of diarrhea cramps.  Who wants to walk down the aisle with her?

I’m going to be a bridesmaid in August, and I just picked up my dress and brought it to my seamstress for what I thought would be a simple hem.  I stepped into the size 8 dress (I wear a size 6 in regular clothes) and the zipper stopped right at my bra and wouldn’t budge any further.  There was no place to fit my natural 36 DDDs (yeah, it’s true!) in that little number.  So, in addition to the $200 I paid for the dress, I now have to have it completely rebuilt to accommodate me, because that dress is not a true size 8!

How about dropping the labels?  How about stop overcharging for larger sizes, and how about the industry stops singling out women for their curves –they might as well just call us “pleasantly plump”, “big boned” or “more to love” and title the article “Fatties Get Married Too”–which let’s face it, is what they’re really thinking!

The features in magazines that show perfectly toned, 5′ 11″ models aren’t titled “How to Find a Dress To Fit Your Perfectly Toned 5′ 11″ Model Shaped Body“.   Yet, the articles for “plus sized” brides are clearly indicated as such and targeted specifically at hiding flaws and accentuating the positive.

The only real flaw I see is in the fashion industry’s skewed approach to broadening the spectrum of represented women.  The magazines won’t get a pat on the back from me for their efforts.  In my mind, these attempts do the complete opposite of what they are apparently intended to do–they deflate my confidence and remind me that I don’t look like the girls in the magazines.

I realize that not all bodies are created equally, and I’m not suggesting at all that one shape is better than an another.  I don’t resent that other women are thinner and taller than me, have perkier breasts than me, or straighter teeth than me, or whatever.  I just want all women to feel good in the skin they’re in and I think the media has a responsibility to help promote that feeling in women.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  I’d love to hear all angles in the comments below.

7 Responses

  1. erica says:

    Here here, well said!
    I have HAD it with finger-pointing and indicating the DIFFERENCES of so-called “plus” sizes. If the average American size is (and has been for some years now) a 14, couldn’t we just as easily point at anything less and say something along the lines of “How to make your size 2 boyish body look feminine” or even better–the converse of what we read “Looking bigger on a small budget”. Instead, we are made to feel we are BIGGER than the norm, and need help looking good, or even NORMAL.

    At 5’7″ I have spent most of my life as a size 10 (with a natural 36E-F bust, depending on my weight that year) and recently find the need to try and 14’s to fit my bust–but they’re now often considered PLUS sizes. Why can’t all the sizes be put together? Why are we separating the Haves from the Have Nots? Genetics did not program me to be a size 6, and from the looks I get, I think world LIKES me this way; now if only the media believed I should.

  2. That’s a well written rant if I’ve ever heard one!
    I agree with everything you have said. i often wonder when I see all those women who have had breast implants where they can possibly find clothes to fit their new endowments. I find that most dresses never fit my top and bottom – they are most often produced overseas by underpaid workers who have never had the chance to overeat! I think that if the garment industry brought their business back onto domestics soil things might start fitting better.
    And yes, at a tall size 8 I often feel like a plus size in the fitting room! Great post

  3. sharon says:

    I agree, these women are beautiful curvy typical North American woman. As a plus size person I’m sick and tired of not being able to shop in the same stores as the “normal” people, I’m sick and tired of not having the same “fashion” options, I’m sick and tired of only have 3 places I can buy from……Actually, I’m just sick and tired of not being allowed to be “normal”…. ;-(

  4. jan says:

    Had to add this:
    When I was 7 mos pregnant with my son exactly 13 years ago, I was a bridemaid. I lived in Chicago; wedding was in PA, and I was fitted when I was barely a bump of a bun in the oven. The lady assured me that a size 6 would still fit down the road b/c I was little and it was my first. ha!! They didn’t know how i would attack quatro formaggio at the little Italian restaurant every Friday for the next 6 mos! Sure enough, they mailed the dress and it didn’t zip for shit. I had to have alllll the other girls’ hems sent to me to have them pieced into the side seams to the tune of $150. Then, I effin forgot it at home when I left. My husband sent it same day via Fed Ex for another $200. I burned that thing when I was done with it!!!!!!!!!

    I understand your rant, but from a different perspective. I am practically a negative A – if you can even count that…I am the boyish size 2 mentioned in the last comment. Speaking strictly of endowment, not a day goes by that I don’t hyperfocus on my lack of feminine curves…probably in an unhealthy way. When I see women in advertising, all that registers are boobs (sorry!). So, while all you might see are skinny models that don’t depict an average reality, all I see are voluptuous curves that make me feel like a prepubescent 12-year-old boy. Grass is always greener.

  5. Alissa says:

    Thanks for all this great discussion. Erica, you brought up some things that I was thinking as well! and Jan, interesting to see the other side of the picture. The problem in my mind, is that clothes are designed and marketed with a very specific idea of “normal”. Why does it have to be so specific? I wish the spectrum would be broadened a bit so that no body body type feels singled out–too big, too small, too flat, too full.

    You are right indeed though–the grass is always greener, especially when it comes to boobs!

  6. Ula B. says:

    HORAY! I have been in search of “THE” dress for over a year (I started browsing about 2 months after we met, and got serious with cutting pics out right before he proposed). Of course all those gowns look amazing – because they were designed for and made for the size 0 body, which only a very small portion of the population is. I do have to admit, I am a dyslexic anorexic (I think I am smaller than I am, eat accordingly and then I see a picture of myself and come back to reality!). Even the articles such as the one which prompted the rant above, never used actual ‘plus sized’ girls, they are always size 8 with big arms. And now, all the shops are either tween sized or “Plus plus woman”. So when it was time to try on wedding dresses, every single insecurity surfaces. At 5’7″ and between an 18 to a 22, you walk into a salon knowing there is no way a single sample will actually fit. It really takes away from the experience. And to add insult to injury, what’s on the label is not the ‘real’ size. They are two to four sizes SMALLER!!! So if you are normally an 8, you need to try on a 10 or 12, or in my case a 24 to a 26!! Ah, the humiliation!
    I also agree with Sharon above. Only a few places to shop, and what’s up with the exact same shirt style everywhere and all the freaky patterns??

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