Pluses of Plus Size:
Tips for Embracing & Accentuating Your Full Figure
It's no secret that our culture worships thinness
and equates the emaciated state with great beauty.
It's also no secret that more and more of the
population is succumbing to "obesity", gaining
more weight than ever before. One secret that
remains is that you can be overweight on the
charts while still being healthy and beautiful.
And the plus in the recent trend towards
overweight in the general population means that,
slowly but inexorably, fashion designers will be
designing attractive clothes for plus-sized women.
It's about time!
Why is being thinner in style historically speaking?
It's only in the past sixty years that thinness
became the standard for beauty, and it started in
the U.S. Even into the 1950's, women were expected
to have considerable curves, and if look at
pictures of great beauties from the early 1900's,
you'll see some amazing feminine forms. Lilly
Langtry, considered the most lovely woman of her
time, weighed around 180 pounds. The Gibson Girls
of around 1915 were wasp-waisted thanks to the
death-grip of tightly-laced corsets, but they also
augmented their natural rumps with great big
bustles. A big behind was considered charming.
Some feminist theorists point out that the demand
for women's thinness came along just as women were
starting to assert themselves socially. The
sixties, when the women's movement burgeoned, the
Pill came along and women could be sexually active
without enduring unwanted pregnancy. Divorce laws
changed, freeing women from onerous marriages,
(and freeing some husbands too). Finally, women
started entering the workforce in large numbers
for the first time, excepting the years of W.W.II
when the government first urged women into the
workplace, then threw them out at the end of the
war. One theory is that the sudden emphasis on
thinness came about as a social pressure to keep
women from being as powerful as they could be.
Perhaps unconsciously, men and women have been
colluding, creating a society where women have
many social freedoms, but taking away the greatest
freedom of all--the right to feed oneself
I'm always reminded of this theory when I see an
advertisement for a particular treadmill It shows
a woman finishing her workout, then folding up the
treadmill and sliding it under the bed. The
voice-over says, "Soon, you'll both be taking up
less space". The first time I heard it, I got mad,
but I wasn't exactly sure why. Then I recalled my
college readings, that suggested that women are
expected to attain unnatural levels of thinness so
that they will take up less physical space,
minimizing their impact on the world.
Many Cultures Perfer a Fuller Womens Figure
So it makes me wonder how our world will change
over the next few decades. At one time, (and in
many cultures still), beautiful women were round,
curvy, plump, even downright fat. Right now, over
60% of American women are over size 12. Is it
possible that those times of larger feminine
beauty are returning?
There has always been a
section of the masculine population that considers
women more attractive when they aren't thin, and
there are some notable exceptions to the
industry-wide narrowness in the television world.
Witness Ina Garten, whose Barefoot Contessa show
on the Food Network illustrates fabulous cooking
and gracious dining. Ina is a beautiful woman (I
know a man who says he loves her, although they
will never meet if his girlfriend can help it!)
She's a plus-size beauty, with a satiny, brunette
bob, .comeous skin, wide eyes, and a husky laugh.
What's not to love?
Popular Plus Size Celebrities
What women like Ina Garten know, is that there is
so much more to life than counting your
carbohydrates. There are white roses and candles
on the table, champagne and kir, plum tarts and
boef bourgignon, for example.
So here's an idea. What if, instead of focusing on
taking up less space, we all spent more time
attending to our greatness? Can you imagine what
the world would be like if all the hours spent at
the gym were spent instead on developing
compassion? If nail salons were replaced with the
old-fashioned European salons where people met to
discuss art, music and current events? What is we
all spent as much time and money on growing our
characters as we now spend on reducing our
Remind yourself that its OKAY if you need a larger size
I think most people are motivated to diet in order
to fit a particular clothing size. That way lies
madness, as sizes vary drastically, even within
brands. Life is much simpler when clothes fit the
person, rather than the other way around. And for
plus-size people, finding the designs that
complement the body is more than half the battle.
Although many designers are starting to include
plus size fashions (in sections separated from
non-plus-sized clothes), the clothes often fall
into the "giant-black tunic over giant black
stretch pants" category. Look at companies that
specialize in plus-sized clothes --my particular
favorite for stylish, pretty clothing is
Zaftique at www.igigi.com and www.zaftique.com.
So, here are my beauty tips for plus sized women.
You will not find the recommendation to wear black apparel
because it's so slimming, or to wear neutrals
because they help you "blend in". And I'm not
going to write about career-wear here; check out
the previous articles on professional and
business-casual work wear.
1. Wear clothes that you love. If you feel pretty or
elegant or sexy or classy in an plus size skirt, dress or other outfit, that's the
way people will see you. Spend a little more if
you have to, but find clothes and designers that
work for you.
2. Wear brightly colored outfits to feel cheerful. Let your
self shine through and only wear black if you
happen to like the way you look in black. For example, EVERY woman should own a pair of the classic black plus size pants that go with everything. Just pair them with a bright shirt or blouse on top. Use your
own good sense when mixing and matching.
3. If you have them, flaunt them. Some plus size tops, tanks and shirts were
made to show off beautiful shoulders, or a nice
bust. Don't hide in cowl-necks or tunics if you
have the option of a nice V-neck or an
4. Pretty curvy legs are pretty curvy legs. Buy the
best-looking hose in natural colors, strappy shoes
or sexy boots and show the real estate between
ankle and knee--the prettiest parts of the leg. A great aline skirt is wonderful way to show off nice legs as well.
5. Work on increasing your happiness and body images. It doesn't
matter what you wear if you're happy, and the most
fabulous clothes in the world can't cover up an
unhappy face (remember Princess Diana in the
6. Exercise for your health, not for your
derriere. Not for your mother, your boyfriend, the
fashion industry, or your ideas of what you
"should" look like. Focus on feel-good exercise
like dancing, wandering through the woods, playing
in the water. Stop tormenting yourself with the
Stairmaster, and go outside to play.
7. Friendship is one of the primary components of
a happy life. It's also one of the hardest things
to maintain once we're grown up. Find friends,
nurture relationships by hanging out together,
make time for each other, and you'll enrich your
For more information on plus size clothing fashions, styling tips and flattering clothes that look great on your body check out classic shoes every woman should own and learn how to complete your shoe wardrobe on a budget.