The Vixen Thinks: Does Plus Size Promote Obesity?


The Vixen Thinks is an almost weekly feature on this blog. Posts vary in topic, I'll talk about anything I have an opinion on! From blogging to relationships to feminism and anything beyond. If there's anything you'd like me to write about, feel free to get in touch: emily@theglittervixen.com! Thank you!

A few weeks (months maybe, been planning this post for far too long) ago, I was exposed to the idea that the rise in availability of plus size clothing promotes obesity. That is, by stocking clothes intended for larger people, clothing companies were saying "hey everyone, obesity is acceptable, it's desirable!"

What an absolutely outrageous idea! I could say, no, plus size does not "promote" obesity, and be done with it, but this is a blog post, so let's get into why I think there are absolutely no downsides to the increasing number of plus sizes ranges available and why the idea of promoting obesity is flawed at best.

Traditionally, the term plus size actually simply referred to clothing that wasn't made to fit a typical tall and skinny model. So yeah, clothing designed to fit the vast majority of us reading this - I'm pretty sure none of my readers are supermodels! With this definition in mind, all high street clothing retailers sell plus size clothing! How on earth can stocking UK size 8 clothing be a promotion of obesity? Oh yeah, it isn't.

Of course, this argument over simplifies things. Nowadays, plus size refers to sizes typically above those most commonly found readily available on the high street. I've seen some plus size ranges start around the UK size 16 mark, but my (limited) research suggests that more often, plus size is 18+.

The truth is, many people who require plus size clothing are fat, or, shock horror, OBESE.

The thing is, you cannot tell how healthy someone is simply by looking at them. I will repeat that: you cannot measure someone's health simply by looking at them. Just as there are super slim people who actually eat the recommended number of calories each day and get a healthy, balanced diet, there are also fat people who eat the recommended number of calories each day and get a healthy, balanced diet.

Everyone deserves access to clothing that fits them comfortably.

Should fat people who eat healthily really be penalised because there are actually people in this world who believe that by making clothing for fat people, we are condoning obesity? Of course not, what a ridiculous idea!

But what about fat people who don't healthily?

Well, this is where I need to repeat myself:

Everyone deserves access to clothing that fits them comfortably.

I know this may come as a surprise to some people but the lifestyle another person chooses to lead is NONE of your business. It is literally none of your business whether someone chooses to eat healthily, or chooses to regularly indulge in junk food instead.

By making clothes that fit people of all shapes and sizes, shops aren't screaming "HEY LIVE OFF CHEESEBURGERS IT'S FINE!" They're saying "OK, the vast majority of the UK isn't 6 feet tall and a dress size 6, so maybe the clothing we sell should reflect that."

I know, I know, you're probably moaning about the health risks associated with obesity and crying out about the "strain on the NHS" it causes. But here's the kicker - being skinny doesn't automatically make you immune to disease. Not everyone who falls on the larger side of scale is a walking ill-health timebomb. Again, you can't tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them.

There are other things that can cause severe health problems. Alcohol is a big one. Misuse of that drug places strain on the NHS, but I've never seen someone with a pint in their hand get the kind of abuse I've seen a fat person receive. Not even smokers get as much abuse as the plus size community, and smoking in my opinion is one of the worst, because it's not just your health it affects, it's that of those around you too.

It is time to move beyond the idea that the way someone looks is any of our business. It's time to move beyond the idea that you can tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them. It's time to celebrate that we're all different shapes and sizes and we should be encouraging clothing retailers to reflect this!