In an era of body positivity, the term ‘plus-size’ is no longer PC

Think twice before you use the term plus-size — at least in reference to someone’s body.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02:  Amy Schumer attends the "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for People.com)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 02: Amy Schumer attends the “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for People.com)

The term has been increasingly declared politically incorrect, in large part thanks to a “plus-size” social media feud between actress/comedian Amy Schumer and Glamour magazine last month.

Schumer went in on Glamour for featuring her in their plus-size issue without her knowledge. The magazine listed her name, along with Adele, Melissa McCarthy and Ashley Graham as women who inspire them. Schumer took to Insta to let them know she wasn’t happy — since she wears a size 6 or 8.

The magazine’s editor, Cindi Leive, apologized to Schumer in a series of tweets and clarified the magazine’s intention. This month, in their June issue, the publication took another step toward reconciliation by polling women on their feelings about the term plus-size.

In the survey, 56% of respondents said plus-size has negative connotations. A better term, according to 63% is hourglass.

The majority of respondents (83%) said the word fat is totally offensive but the words chubby, boyish, apple-shaped, top-heavy and ruler-shaped didn’t fare much better.

The term that received the most universal acceptance was healthy — 74% of women said it made them feel good. This is interesting, considering that in some cultures, the term healthy has historically served as a euphemism for plus-size, so, there’s that. I guess we can assume the survey respondents aren’t part of those cultures.

This isn’t the first time the term plus-size has been questioned. The debate started years ago when the general public discovered that models labeled plus-size were actually a size 10 or 12.

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Generally in America, plus-size clothing is considered size 16 and up. Of course, some fashion brands start plus-size at size 14. But we all know how haphazard clothing sizes have been since the advent of vanity sizing — one girl’s 12 is another girl’s 16.

For the sake of context, let’s go with the finding that about 70% of American women wear a size 14 or higher.

Since the fashion industry is the primary entity that is forced to offer some type of sizing label, we should probably look there for solutions.

Companies like ModCloth, for example,  are ahead of the curve.

In 2014, the online retailer ramped up its plus-size offerings based on a survey that found more American women wear a size 16 than wear sizes 0, 2, and 4 combined.

But a lot of retailers have discovered the benefits of expanding into larger clothing sizes. Last year, Target, after a particularly contentious relationship with its healthy shoppers finally introduced Ava & Viv, a line designed specifically with the healthy in mind.

What makes ModCloth standout, is their revolutionary decision to stop segregating sizes. Unlike department stores that often house healthy clothing in sections labeled Women’s or otherwise, on the main page of their website, ModCloth clothing, from sizes XS – 4X peacefully co-exists. Healthy models of all sizes appear in images together. You won’t find a reference to plus-size unless you click on the “sale” tab and even then, the most prominent reference is to extended sizes.

Other than some complaints about quality from customers (which is almost a given when you are dealing with fast fashion), ModCloth seems to be pulling off the impossible, selling clothing without regard to size.

Reader Comments 0

61 comments
JMark Charles
JMark Charles

Who makes up this ridiculous "politically incorrect" trash? You're fat Schumer, get over it or do something about it.

Peyton Savoy
Peyton Savoy

You can be an hour glass from a size zero to a 22..lol. You are not automatically an hour glass because you are a big girl..

Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith

Plus size starts at 18- 20,she's differently not a plus size

Erica Edgar
Erica Edgar

So what if your hourglass is shaped like a clock?

Maria Dayley
Maria Dayley

I used to be a plus size too, and I did not like the term then or now. She may not be a plus size, but there is no way Ms.Schumer is a size 6-8.

Zeljka Gasic Salesevic
Zeljka Gasic Salesevic

I'm so fed up with "politically correct". Rather say "lie to my face", because that is just what it means.

Jennifer Kiefaber
Jennifer Kiefaber

I always liked the word voluptuous myself (Definition: curvaceous and sexually attractive). I agree that plus-size is not the right term.

Phil Dreer
Phil Dreer

And where do the minus-sized women stand on all this?

Tonda Cooper
Tonda Cooper

Plus size could have a better name!! I've thought that for many years. Like instead of busty or top heavy, we said " well endowed." It's nicer. Hour glass figure is a shape. It says nothing of size. My mom had that 22 inch waste in HS. She was 5'1" and 115 lbs. Petite. You see, petite is nice! Find a word for full size that's NICE!

Hope Walker
Hope Walker

I guess but my 'hourglass' figure looks quite the opposite of an actual hourglass then.

Angela Watson
Angela Watson

When the modeling world looks like starved, flat chest and flat butt prepubescent boys then you understand.

Megan-Eric Knapp
Megan-Eric Knapp

No way she is a 6 or 8. She's at Least a 12 Or 14. And that's fine! She's pretty. Love yourself, girl! As Women we need to love ourselves more. And...hourglass refers To a shape, not weight.

Angelika Moore
Angelika Moore

6 to 8 are plus size? On what planet. Especially considering that over 50 percent of people in this country are obese.

Wendy Melton
Wendy Melton

She is not a size 6 or 8, more like 10 or 12..lol..she is in denial

Stephanie Weininger
Stephanie Weininger

Whut? I agree that plus size is not the best description but hourglass?? I dont have hips.. It would be a lie..lol as far as size shaming? We have gotten so used to seeing models and actresses that are a size 0 to 3 and equating it with an average size. I was told i was fat when i was a size 6. I pretty much looked like amy schumer. Some people carry weight fluffy.. They have fuller cheeks and arms but their bodies are slim.. Lets not get stuck on what you think of her but concentrate on the fact that at the base of this conflict was the idea that a healthy size was put into an article as an example of being plus sized.. Its a bigger issue than how you feel about the actress.

Jennifer Waterman
Jennifer Waterman

Uhm... She is NOT a size 6 or 8. I'm a 6 or 8 and I am NOT that big

Jennifer Waterman
Jennifer Waterman

In fact.. she is the exact same size as my cousin who is a 14 as well

Rick Lingerfelt
Rick Lingerfelt

hmmmmm......we can't say fat, big boned, heavy set...and now the PC police say we can't say plus size. Really?

Max Brill
Max Brill

Lose some weight then Amy and you won't be in that category . FYI no sin/crime being plus size. When I was a boy I was "husky" .

Lisa F. Austin
Lisa F. Austin

It amazes me that so many care what size she is. My opinion...you need to worry about you & yours.

Melissa Eppers
Melissa Eppers

First time she has been funny to me...telling everyone she wears a 6/8 \U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602

Melissa Eppers
Melissa Eppers

And there is nothing wrong with that I just got down to a 14 and I am freaking happy about it! Lol she is making herself look kind of dumb right now more than usual ha!

Angela Watson
Angela Watson

Not at all. I don't see the big deal. As long as you're healthy it shouldn't matter.

Melissa Eppers
Melissa Eppers

Exactly, I worked my butt off to get where I am but I can't imagine walking around telling people I am a 6/8 especially so high profile like her. She def has issues with herself.

Tabitha Lynn
Tabitha Lynn

What isn't politically incorrect today? She left a size six or eight behind years ago. If she doesn't want to be called plus sized there's an easy solution.

Tabitha Lynn
Tabitha Lynn

Lisa F. Austin Because I'm sick of everything being so politically correct? Feelings can get hurt, but if you're a big girl (figuratively and/or literally) you should suck it up and drive on.

Max Brill
Max Brill

She is a bigger girl own it she ain't bad looking.

Amber Wright Randhawa
Amber Wright Randhawa

It has nothing to do with being politically correct. Its a definition of a word. Size 6 and 8 aren't plus size. Neither are size 10 and 12. Plus size generally starts at 16, though some stores/designers start it at 14 or 18. This has nothing to do with thin skin, and hourglass means something completely different than plus size. You can be a size 2 and have an hourglass figure if your bust/waist/hip proportions fit the bill. This headline is nonsensical.