Monday, November 8, 2010

The Cost of Being Plus-Size 2

There's no doubt that being healthy and curvy brings with it a great deal of discrimination. Whether you happen to suffer from discrimination personally is another matter. Many plus-size women are full of confidence, and very aware of themselves. Others simply don't want to think about it, it's hard enough trying to get through each day with all the other problems of life, without dwelling on the fact that people go out of their way to make the plus-size feel inadequate and not being in control.

Then there's the third or middle category. Into which many of us fall, at some stage of another. That of being VERY aware of the hostility and abuse centred on our size, and knowing that there is very little we can do about it.

The pressure put upon the plus-size to "diet" and so lose weight; and to exercise not only regularly but intensely, is too much for many people to bear. Insinuations and innuendoes about their weight, and how they live their lives, can cause many people to lose all sense of self and worth.

The inference in newspapers (articles almost every day on the subject of "obesity"); and all other media forums; together with the fashion industry; the entertainment and hospitality as well as the health and fitness industries, that "fat" people aren't worth worrying about, especially if they don't do as they are told to by these organisations, is abusive at the very least.

For people who have always been larger than their peers (and I'm not talking about obese people here, I'm talking about people who are merely bigger, slightly heavier even, taller and wider but healthy), they often find as they age, that they are hindered by various chronic conditions that immobilise their bodies to a greater extent than when they were younger. Things like arthritis. Now when a slender person has arthritis, they usually get sympathy or understanding from people around them. But ........ When a person who has always been on the larger side finds arthritis becomes a real problem, then they are told well, you're overweight, what do you expect?

What they should expect is the same understanding and sympathy as the smaller person. They've got enough to worry about without being subjected to all sorts of ridicule and indifference.

And what about women's magazines? I would be most surprised if you could show me a women's magazine on any newsagents shelf that focuses on the positive side of being plus-size. My argument is this, and has been for decades now. If women's magazines are for ALL women, then ALL women should be included within that magazine as a matter of course. Advertisement and fashion supplements; makeup and beauty therapy pages; positive self-esteem initiatives are all aimed at the younger, slimmer woman. Why are the older women ignored, and why are the plus-size ignored to such an extent that perhaps a special two page supplement every year will have an emphasis on "how to dress for the large body". Why should we be invisible until such time as the editors of these publications decide to do something nice for the fat people. How hypocritical. How arrogant.

And when we write to these magazines, voicing our opinions and feelings about being treated in this way, we're more or less pushed to one side and told to "get a life". We'd love to be able to get on with our lives and enjoy our lives, if only these magazines were a positive voice rather than a negative one that reinforces the bad publicity that makes the rounds every day about weight and being unhealthy.

Being unhealthy is not the point. Too many plus size people are healthy. They eat sensibly and wisely; they carry out exercise regimes; they look after their body. But they're looked upon as being out of control. Nonsense. Here in Australia I doubt whether there is ANY health and fitness course that allows all members of a particular class to be plus-size. Because if they did, more women would attend, and less women would feel intimidated.

The irony of being plus-size is also that society (with a little push and shove by the fashion industry as well as advertisers and the media industry per se) now has the audacity of labelling garments at rapidly decreasing size numbers. What used to be a size 14-16 is now a 10-12 and so on.

What used to be the "typical" or average range of sizes of Australian woman, i.e. 14, 16, 18, 20, is now seen to be: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8. So this means that a plus-size woman will venture into a clothing boutique and look for her sizes only to find none, because that boutique only caters for the current Australian range of sizes. Which is bad enough, but when one considers that the female form or figure has changed dramatically over the past few decades as well as becoming heavier and taller, then you can begin to see some of the inconsistencies involved in sizings.

Today's woman has larger breasts than her mother. Even young women of size 10 or 12, have larger and deeper breasts than their mothers and/or grandmothers. Their hips are larger too. The strange thing about this is that they most probably are the same weight as their mothers, which causes the whole weight/measurement/size/shape concept of what a woman should look like, to go completely out of sync.

So what does this do to the young woman who is generously curvy? It makes her think that it's all her fault. That she has to diet and lose weight so that she can fit into a garment that has been down-sized. Whether she will remain healthy is another matter altogether, because she'll starve and diet and do everything she's told to, and still she won't realise that it is not her problem, but the attitude of other people within industries that could do a lot to help the plus-size adjust to life. With far less problems and far less stress, and far less ridicule.

Those of us who are a little older know that diets don't work. We know that diets can make us fatter than we ever were. We know that diets can cause us to be ill. We know that diets are a big "con".

So that means that our magazines actually sell lies. That's a harsh statement, but when you think about it, you will have to agree surely.

No comments:

Post a Comment