Before I delve into the mid-size ‘movement’, I want you to say something with me. F-A-T. Fat. Say it, get your mouth around it. Fat fat fat fat fat. Fat is a descriptor. It is not a bad word. Before we delve into this, I need you to understand that. There’s so much personal and societal unpacking that we all need to do around the notion of fatness, myself included. Fat is not a bad word.
You may be thinking, ‘Rosie, why are you bringing this up?’ Well, this post is about body types, body image, and the treatment of body types, so of course I’ll be using words like fat and slim. Every time I use the word fat in this post, I need you to know it’s not a negative. Push away that little voice in your head that associates fatness with being unfit or unworthy. It’s a descriptor, a body type, an adjective. I need you to read this post with the eyes of body neutrality, so we can get down to business; unlearning, re-learning, and dismantling outdated systems! I don’t know about you, but I love dismantling outdated systems on a rainy afternoon…
It’s no secret to anyone that I’m not slim.
I’ve got a soft belly, wobbly thighs, and an hourglass figure that goes in in the middle and out everywhere else! I’m the average height, bra size, and clothing size for a woman my age in the UK – practically average in every way. Whilst I think we shouldn’t restrict bodies to mere types, sometimes it’s useful; for example, finding positive representation online. And considering that, I see myself as mid-size. I’ve written a post all about what mid-size is and what it is to be a mid-size woman. Buuuut if you fancy an informal definition, I’d say being mid-size is all about being in the middle of what the fashion industry calls straight-size and plus-size. Typically, to be mid-size is to be between a UK size 12-16, but this is also subjective.
I’ve been happily plodding along in my mid-size body for a few years now, trying to unpick the negativity I’ve been taught by the world about having a soft, wobbly, and podgy body. But recently, I came across a short thread on Twitter, where someone said ‘why don’t the mid-size lot just call themselves plus-size?’ and called anyone who called themselves mid-size ‘anti-fat’. Like a fool, I didn’t check to see if this was a genuine concern from someone who was plus-size, or if it was a rando on the internet being a rando on the internet. I just let the words stab me in the gut. My brain went into overdrive. Was calling myself mid-size a bad thing? Was I damaging the communities I was trying to support? Was I shouting into my own echo chamber?
This likely throwaway comment has been all I’ve been thinking about for weeks now, and that’s no exaggeration. I am such a people-pleaser and do-gooder, that the idea of hurting someone or a community shocks me to my core (therapy, have fun unwrapping that one). So I’ve made it my goal to get to the bottom of the question ‘is the mid-size movement anti-fat?’. I’m very aware that I am coming at this from an angle of someone who lives in a body neutrality bubble, whose body isn’t a societal ideal, and someone who identifies their body as mid-size. So, I want to make this a discussion. I want to know what people who are mid-size or plus-size think, if you think it’s negative, positive, anything in between. I’m so keen to learn and take in other people’s experiences so I can be a better activist and ally!
With that in mind, let me break down my answer to the question ‘is the mid-size movement anti-fat?’
The first thing that helped me come to some kind of answer was to actually define what it is to be straight-size, mid-size, and plus-size. These terms are so subjective to groups and individuals, so there aren’t really any cut-in-stone definitions. Therefore, I’ve created an analogy to highlight the differences.
Imagine that you are going to your typical high street clothes shop – I’m thinking Primark or New Look. If you can shop how you like, have limited issues with finding clothes in your size, and don’t struggle much with having clothes actually fitting you, then you would typically be ‘straight-size’. High street clothes brands typically cater their clothing to those who are size 10 or under. Anything else is simply made bigger as they go up in size; no proportions are changed, just more fabric used. That’s where ‘mid-size’ comes in. You might have to be spread across different clothing sizes for different styles of clothing, but you can tend to find your sizes in these high street shops – the clincher is that a lot won’t fit you because the template isn’t made for your body. That, typically, is the ‘mid-size’ struggle. If your clothing size isn’t accounted for, there’s less clothes in your size, or you are sent to the ‘curvy’/’plus’/’real’/’extra’ section of the shop (which is usually an abysmally small corner), then you are typically ‘plus-size’. Want to know why? Well, the fashion industry is sizeist of course!
On paper, the fashion industry is stuck in that 20th century mindset that you are either thin (good) or fat (bad) – just see heroin chic in the 90s and constant weight loss plans in ‘women’s magazines’.
So, clothes were made to fit one type of body (slim, thin, skinny, sample-size), and then simply sized up, with fat and non-slim bodies thrown on as an afterthought. It’s ridiculous to think this is still the case, but it’s true. Starting in the seventies, the body positivity and fat acceptance movement came along, namely spearheaded by fat, black women. The body positivity movement (or fat acceptance movement) was a social movement started by fat people to celebrate fat bodies, challenge society’s sizeist views, and to advocate for the acceptance and normalization of all body types. After years of hard work, body positivity is slowly, very slowly trickling into the fashion industry; big up to Chromat and Aerie for leading the pack here. So out of the dismantling of 20th century fashion/business models, and the body positivity movement of normalising bodies, mid-size was born.
To me, calling myself mid-size is not anti-fat. To call myself fat or plus-size would be to play into that idea that you are either thin or fat, no inbetween, and that anything that is not slim is by default is fat. To call myself plus-size would be the same as the fashion industry putting a size 14 model on the runway and going ‘hey, look, a plus-size person!’ (which they do in an act of performative size inclusivity). It would be a mis-representation, when fat acceptance and liberation is all about representing real, fat, plus-size bodies.
It’s important for me, and other people who are mid-size, to remember that our bodies bring us privilege. I have an hourglass figure that is currently in fashion, I have ‘acceptably’ wobbly legs and arms, and when I show my cellulite and stretch marks, in come the comments of ‘YAAAAS gal’, ‘hit them with that real body’, and ‘curves for daaaays’. Despite this, my body doesn’t get the same privilege as a slim body. Clothes aren’t made for me, media representation is meh, I’m always told to lose weight for any health concerns, and I’m unravelling years of systematic thoughts telling me my weight defines me. However, I do not have the same struggles that plus-size and fat people face everyday; they have the above struggles and more. Fat people constantly have their body type being ripped apart in the media, are told they are unfit after one look, are ignored by the fashion industry, and they receive neglect at the hands of healthcare professionals – the list goes on.
To be mid-size, or to call yourself mid-size, is to support the normalisation of all ‘non-normalised’ types; fat, chubby, disabled, all races, all representations.
It is to push back against the stereotype that there are only two body types, and that only one is good. All bodies are good bodies. But to be involved in the body positive or neutrality movement is to remember privilege. Whilst being mid-size comes with societal barriers, we must remember where mid-size came from. It came from the body positivity movement, from the hard work of fat people normalising fat bodies.
So, my answer to the question is no; mid-size is not anti-fat. It is not anti-fat as long as we remember where mid-size came from; as long as we do not settle for the acceptance of just mid-size bodies, but fat bodies too. The mid-size movement can come with a lot of ingrained and inner prejudice to fat bodies, so we need to work to untangle that on our own. We need to be advocates and allies and lift other people’s voices.
However, this is just my opinion. Tell me what you think. What work do mid-size folks need to do? What are your experiences as a mid-size or plus-size person? Tell me – do you think mid-size is anti-fat?
Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Bloglovin |
Educate & Donate: Stephen Lawrence Day | Stonewall UK | Survivor’s Trust | Mind |
11 thoughts on “Is Being Mid-Size Anti-Fat? | Mid-Size Style”
I never really knew that there was such a thing as mid-sized. We live in a world where very often slim girls are being called too-skinny and where plus size girls are dealing with fat-shaming and discrimination. I think it’s about time the world learns to accept and uplift bodies of all shapes, sizes, and colours! Thanks for sharing such an interesting read, Rosie, and have a lovely weekend. Aiva 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, and I totally agree with you 😊 ❤
LikeLiked by 1 person
What matters more than skinny or fat is muscle mass vs. fat mass. There are skinny-ish people who aren’t fit and are very flabby (like me). There are also “fat” people who aren’t fit either. Then there are “fat” people who may be classified as overweight but are very fit and can wear revealing outfits that I can’t wear. I don’t think that fat is a good descriptive word but I’m not sure what mid-sized means. What BMI is mid-sized?
Fitness is more important than how big or small someone is in my opinion. Fitness is also more important than someone’s BMI. Fat weighs less than muscle btw.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I definitely agree that it’s such a spectrum, and that we shouldn’t expect thin to mean fit and fat to be unfit, because it’s not the case 😊 Also, body type shouldn’t dictate what you can and can not wear – there should be no rules on who can wear revealing clothes; if you want to wear it, wear it!
I’ve talked about what mid-size is in the blog post, but it is typically those who are size UK 10-16; mid-size is between straight-size (which society tends to cater to) and plus-size (which has been ignored and mistreated by typical society). Regarding ‘fat’ as a descriptive word, for years it has been used a negative or a taunt, when in fact it is just a descriptive word. Self Magazine have a great online article called “I’m Done Treating the Word ‘Fat’ Like an Insult” which discusses this brilliantly.
Mid-size doesn’t have an explicit BMI; it’s a body type, a descriptor. Everybody’s BMI is different. Anyway, I do believe BMI to be an outdated way of measuring someone’s physical wellbeing. I believe that people’s health comes before anything else, whether that be mental or physical, and that shouldn’t be linked to their size.
Thank you for your comment, I do really appreciate it and love starting conversations with people 😊<3
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m a guy and I’m annoyed with societal standards… any woman with a bit of meat on her bones is considered plus sized. Now within plus sized you have levels. Acceptable and unacceptable. Yet, societal standards govern every bit of these views.
If you are happy being you, it’s going to show everywhere. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Even if everyone else doesn’t think so.
I don’t like the term and the reason is that people will say ‘well between size 12 – 18 i can’t find anything when in reality most plus-size models are that size (your body type is represented vs ppl who are size 22+) AND i know for a fact after being fat my entire life and in those sizes, that plus size stores (and places like h&m, forever21, anthropolgie that have plus sections) really will max go to a 20 and usually start from a 12 or 14. I don’t see the point of midsize beyond wanting to distance yourself from fatter people. I am plus size and have been most of my life, but I’ve mostly worn 16-20 (and hey if it has stretch I can fit a 12).
Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment 😊 I totally agree with you that most plus-size models are my size, so that’s poor plus-size representation! And being mid-size means that I can find my sizes in clothes shops but they won’t fit correctly because those clothes are built for straight sizes. The issue is that the world is built into the idea of ‘thin’ and ‘fat’, (and the word fat comes with negative connotations which is such bullshit). Calling myself plus-size plays into the outdated idea that anything over straight size is plus-size, which isn’t the case! There’s so much work that needs to be done in the fashion and style industry regardinging plus-size clothing and representation. To me, calling myself plus-size is the same as a brand using a mid-size body to represent their plus-size clothes. Society is so stuck in the idea of ‘straight size’ or ‘plus-size’ being the only body types, and society still treats straight size like the ideal. To class myself as plus-size would tie into that dual idea, when we know bodies come in all shapes and sizes and clothes should reflect that. I am not plus-size. It would be disingenuous and harmful for the plus-size and fat acceptance movement if I was to identify as such, as it plays into that outdated dual idea. However, this is just a personal opinion, and my blog is a place for discussion! Thanks once again for taking the time to comment and share 💕
I love this article. I have been struggling to find clothes that fit my body lately. Over the last few years I have learned to accept my body how it is instead of starving myself and working out excessively to maintain a certain size (which I would tie to my personal worth). Doing such has resulted in weight gain and I generally wear a size 14-18 but NOTHING looks nice on me!!! Just doesn’t fit certain areas correctly. However I have gone to stores such as Torrid (ment for plus size women) and even the smallest size is too big! Those clothes are made specifically for plus size women and their certain curves and, as you said, the larger/plus sizes at “regular stores” are just extra fabric without thought out into where that extra fabric needs to be let looser or pulled tighter to accentuate our assets
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think we need to get away from sizing categories and start making clothes for body types instead. It does feel like you’re distancing yourself from the movement that made it ok for you to be complimented for having curves, the plus size movement. Retailers are finally eliminating plus size sections and just adding everything together, it felt so good seeing that. In both of your articles you describe issues that plus size people face too. You just experience less shame and I understand the want to respect the struggle and I do appreciate it. I fit in between both plus and mid size, what am I? I’m not another category, my body type is not represented, however my size is. Straight is a body type, not a size, it’s in the name. Men’s stores have big and tall options, those are body types, it shouldn’t be impossible. We have blue jeans in a million different cuts, we should be able to do this. I respect the movement, I just think personally, we should go in a different direction other than focusing on jean size.
Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I really do agree with the idea that a change needs to happen, we need to make clothing sizes for body types instead. It just makes more sense! However, in regards to distancing myself from the plus-size movement, I really have to disagree. To call myself plus-size is the same thing as calling size 14 models plus-size and leaving it there: it’s mis-representation! I do not experience the same societal oppression and marginalisation that ‘plus’ or fat bodies do. For me, mid-size isn’t a movement in the same vein as the body positivity or fat liberation movement, heavens no. It’s a way for people to recognise the fatphobia in fashion and style, and recognise that they feel the effects of it without being marginalised. It’s the job of the mid-size movement to call it out and support our sisters who are plus-size and ensure a size-inclusive future. Fat liberation is the way forward to that future, and we all need to support that.