Is The Term Plus-Size Problematic?

Is The Term Plus-Size Problematic?

Hey everyone!

Okay so I don’t want this to be one of those posts where people just assume it’s another person getting offended over unnecessary things. As with all my posts, I want it to be a genuine discussion on the matter in question and I’m always open to people commenting or messaging me to debate or talk about anything I post on here. That is, as long as it’s in a mature way as I may only be 22 but I have 0 tolerance when it comes to nastiness and bullsh*t, I’m not sorry. Being educated and empathetic are two massively important things to me so I’m always happy to be learning about everything generally and individually!

Anyway, onto the term “plus-size” and whether it’s a problematic and confidence-killing phrase. I recently uploaded a post on how high street sizing was failing us ladies and affecting us negatively and it really seemed to resonate with a lot of people. It really got me thinking about the term “plus-size” and why exactly it came about or is used at all. The wikipedia definition states “plus size clothing is clothing proportioned specifically for people whose bodies are larger than the average persons”. This isn’t always the case as the average dress size of a woman in the UK is now a 16 yet the majority of stores that hold a plus-size range or section start at a size 16 or a size or two below. Why? If a size 16 is supposedly the average for a woman in the United Kingdom then why are stores classing as low as a size 12 a plus-size?

Which leads me to the question of was this term actually created to shame women with larger bodies? I say women as personally I have only once seen mens clothing labelled with this phrase and it was on ASOS. I have seen clothing shops especially for larger men but always marketed with words like “beefier” or “mightier”. It’s as if in society that a woman carrying weight anywhere that isn’t her bum or boobs is deemed unattractive and is criticised to the point of causing so many personal issues.

If there is a name for clothing for above average sized people, then why isn’t there a name like “mini-size” for clothing for under average sized people? Why are brands only focusing on labelling clothes for larger people? Yes you could come back with the argument that it could be detrimental to people suffering with an eating disorder but they aren’t inclusive to under average sized people. Literally any person, any size or shape can suffer from an eating disorder and they aren’t always in the form of losing weight.

Also, the pricing is definitely something that is in need of discussion and was recently brought up on ITV news. The brand particularly in question were New Look and they were said to have increased their normal prices by up to 15% on their plus-size range. The brand responded with they were ‘looking at ways to rectify this’. I think this is still quite a widely ignorant issue too as a lot of people argue, “more material, more money”. If that is truly the case then why don’t all sizes go up in price? Why isn’t a size 8 cheaper than a size 12?

Also why don’t petite or tall ranges differ in price either if extra material is the issue? And when it comes to footwear, why aren’t people paying more for every size they’re above “average”? As someone who has experience making clothes, you could even argue that making smaller sized garments leaves behind more cut offs of fabric essentially causing more waste for a brand.

The other problem with THIS part of the discussion is that a lot of brands still don’t cater for above a size 16. Brands KNOW this and cash in on it as larger ladies really don’t have much choice but to pay these prices if they want to wear nice, fashionable and different styles for their shape. It’s just all very sad that larger people are still so discriminated against and shamed in this way.

It’s easy for ignorant people to sit around and say “well they should lose weight then” or “why did they let theirself get to that weight” but you have absolutely no idea why or how people have the appearance they do. It could be a consequence of mental or physical health issues, medication, issues with food or simply just the fact they LIKE being that size. As long as they are relatively healthy, happy and causing you no harm then who are you to judge? They could feel empowered and beautiful that way. It doesn’t mean they should have to pay a hefty surplus for a bit of fabric to wear.

I could go on for quite a while about this subject but my last point will be, why do stores even make specific ranges for larger people anyway? As I mentioned before, if a size 16 is classed as the average size, why aren’t stores basing their “normal” ranges around this number? Why can’t they just make all their clothes in a larger range of sizes instead of singling out certain groups and basically telling them this is what they can and should wear because of their size? This goes for smaller sizes too as I know a lot of stores don’t cater for below a 6, sometimes even an 8.

I did a few polls on Twitter to go along with this post:

Out of the people who answered this question, no one AT ALL feels empowered by the term “plus-size”.

Much like me, the majority of people haven’t seen the term “plus-size” used to describe mens clothing.

I felt the results for these two sort of contradicted each other – if you don’t think the term “plus-size” is necessary in women’s fashion then what reason other than essentially fat-shaming can you see for it arising in the fashion world? I’d love to hear your opinion!

I feel these polls have mostly backed up my points on the subject and I really hope my opinions or questions have possibly helped to make people think. Women seem to be constantly belittled and judged for their body type if it’s not a carbon copy of Kim Kardashians (which by the way, NO ONE has without surgery or photoshop) and It’s safe to say we’re getting pretty sick of it. It’s so important to remember that no matter how great you think someone else looks, they’re going to have at least one thing they’re insecure about too. What things about the fashion world irritate you the most?

’Til Next Time,


*Pinafore and striped top from Monki. All photos by Becky Elen.


    • blacktulipbeauty
      1st June 2018 / 8:54 pm

      I totally agree! Why can’t we all just live? Thank you ? xx

  1. 1st June 2018 / 11:59 am

    A great and interesting topic to discuss. That wikipedia definition is cringing for me. Oh myyy…. Yeah I don’t see the reason for labelling, but that’s the society we live it now.

    • blacktulipbeauty
      1st June 2018 / 8:53 pm

      Thank you! Isn’t it just? Haha! I do wonder what will happen in the future but I agree, I don’t see the need either!

  2. 1st June 2018 / 4:13 pm

    This is such a great though provoking post Alice! As someone that’s made clothes for a number of years, the patterns used to make clothes in your standard 6-16 sizes are graded for those particular sizes (so they have a small pattern in the centre and grade out each size to a certain amount of fabric if that makes sense?) so having a higher price on “plus size” (I’m not a fan of the term either) does make sense practically – however the hike in price is quite questionable, especially when they’re able to make clothes on the cheap abroad anyway. If you make clothes in the UK production and fabrics costs are WAY more expensive so a 15% increase would make sense, but in the likes of China, Turkey, Bangladesh, India (just some of the top ones I can think of!) where most of our high street stores source their manufacturing, the prices shouldn’t differ too much! My pet peeve is the vanity sizing of clothes – I just picked up a swimsuit from Accessorize in the airport before flying to Bali, it looked like it was a standard size 8, without looking at the size, I just took it to the counter knowing it would fit, only to find out when I tried it on in Bali it was a size 12!! Madness!! ❤️❤️❤️

    • blacktulipbeauty
      1st June 2018 / 4:32 pm

      See that’s really interesting as we were never taught to make clothes that way, in my class we always worked from the outside inwards to make the most out of fabrics and minimise cut offs so they’re able to use for other things if possible! But my school was all super eco-friendly and whatnot, I suppose it’s all relative to the fabric and what you’re making! Also like you said that being for 6-16 sizes, it clearly needs to be rethought and widened as if 16 is worked out as the average size in the UK why is it still at the top of the high street spectrum? It frustrates me so much! The fashion world sure knows how to exclude the body types that it wants to doesn’t it? ☹️ yeah I TOTALLY agree that was exactly my point in my high street sizing post, I just don’t get why there can’t be measurements set that ALL companies have to follow ??‍♀️ If you were a size 12 I can’t imagine what size I’d be in that bikini! ? Xx

  3. 1st June 2018 / 8:15 pm

    This post was a great read! I just wish there was less of a need to label everything these days..

    • blacktulipbeauty
      1st June 2018 / 8:51 pm

      Thank you so much! I totally agree, it can be really grating x

  4. 1st June 2018 / 8:18 pm

    I just wanted to say before I started that I love the diverse range of topics you’re covering on your blog now, and I love seeing you in more of your posts now a days.. ? I consider myself to be plus-size because I normally wear between a 14-16, which can range depending on the store from a 10 to a 20, but more so because I used to be a size 10 solidly, and I’ve put on weight recently. I completely agree with you that if the average size of women in the UK is a size 16, this should be comfortably catered for in every store without a difference in price, and I also agree that there should be no difference in price between a size 4 and a size 24. I know you covered it recently, but I think the most irritating thing in fashion are sizes differing between stores, I just want to be able to shop and know something is going to fit without feeling crap about myself when I have to size up a million times.. ???‍♀️

    • blacktulipbeauty
      1st June 2018 / 9:03 pm

      Thank you so much Andi, it means so much that you’re constantly reading my posts and enjoying them ? exactly, realistically size 14-16 is below to bang on average so you shouldn’t consider yourself plus-size at all as the media has made you believe! It’s good to hear that others feel the same, I honestly think it’s such an issue and can knock down women so much. Who are people to tell us what we are and what we should look like? It is the worst isn’t it!? Imagine being able to order a size online and KNOWING it is definitely going to fit, what a dream that’d be! X

  5. 1st June 2018 / 8:29 pm

    People are far too sensitive these days, as well as being over cautious to be see as PC. The media’s idea of plus size bring a 12 is completely wrong. Depending on your height etc this might be the ideal. I’m not plus size, I’m over weight. Am I ok with this? Sometimes, but I shouldn’t be. A bit of fat shaming is actually good for you, at least it might encourage you to do something about it!

    • blacktulipbeauty
      1st June 2018 / 8:49 pm

      I honestly suggest you re-read this message as it’s so contradictory. Saying people are too sensitive is also really detrimental to others wellbeing and makes them feel as if they can’t speak out about their feelings. I agree that plus-size being a 12 is completely wrong but I don’t think the media should be telling ANYONE that they’re plus-size at all really. What’s the need for a label? It makes you feel crap and who deserves that because they enjoy food? Again, I’m not sure if you read through the whole post but I mention not judging people on their weight because of many issues that may have caused it or because they personally like being that way. People with all sorts of health issues can’t always just ‘do something about it’. Despite being really chronically unwell myself and not plus-size, I don’t judge.

  6. 1st June 2018 / 8:33 pm

    Great post. It’s something that I have never thought of before and didn’t even know about the prices being more expensive. I like the point you make about people not criticising others on their weight as their might be reasons for it. Whole heartedly agree with you there.

    • blacktulipbeauty
      2nd June 2018 / 12:10 am

      Thank you! Yeah it’s something I’ve seen people really suffer from recently and I think so many are far too quick to judge when really they have no idea. Thanks for reading!

  7. 1st June 2018 / 8:50 pm

    Yess! This is another fantastic post Alice! ? I’m with you on this, I don’t think there is any need for the term “plus size”. Its unnecessary and just makes women feel bigger than the “average” person. I’m sure people can work out what sizes they need without being given a label too. Wow, and I didn’t even know about the price difference either, that’s awful. Great post girl, very well written and well done for discussing these important topics! ? xx

    Bexa |

    • blacktulipbeauty
      2nd June 2018 / 12:08 am

      Thank you Bexa ? exactly! It’s yet another term that makes us feel crap in my opinion. Haha, I’m sure they can! I know it really isn’t the best, just makes people feel even worse… Thank you for reading ? xx

  8. 1st June 2018 / 9:39 pm

    I think it’s defintiely problematic! So are a lot of things to do with weight though, I get so mad when influencers actually glorify obesity (actual obesity not just ‘plus size’). The term plus size is used so inappropriatly, no wonder so many girls have confidence issues regarding their weight!
    Sophie – x

    • blacktulipbeauty
      1st June 2018 / 9:49 pm

      100% which is why I think eating disorders are on the rise and self-love isn’t! Yeah I totally get that, when it gets to a point where it’s really harmful to health I do understand the concern. It is extremely easy to feel intimidated and horrible about yourself when there are so many media outlets telling you how you should look! X

  9. 1st June 2018 / 10:12 pm

    I had no idea they charged extra for plus-sized clothes, that’s so wrong! And I’m pretty sure they charge more for ‘petite’ sizes than ‘regular’ so it definitely cannot be justified by saying that it’s the extra material that they’re charging for. I also think it’s interesting that the term ‘plus-sized’ isn’t used in relation to men. I’d never noticed this before but now you’ve pointed it out I don’t think I’ve ever seen it either. You’ve made so many good points in this post 🙂 x

  10. 1st June 2018 / 10:22 pm

    This was a great post! It’s interesting to me that the average size is now considered plus-sized, and how that reflects on the market. You made many good points, thanks for sharing! x

    • blacktulipbeauty
      2nd June 2018 / 12:05 am

      Thank you for reading! Yeah it shouldn’t be at all, it’s something that really needs to be looked into! x

  11. 1st June 2018 / 11:38 pm

    It’s only problematic to people who have low self esteem and low confidence to begin with.
    People with self esteem and confidence can be labeled by others as a fat cow and it’s not “problematic” for them.

    • blacktulipbeauty
      2nd June 2018 / 12:04 am

      I can’t say I agree with this, you can be confident and love yourself and still be affected by what the media says and by what others think of you! And also, we’re kind of taught to pick away at ourselves and that if we don’t look a certain way we’re not good enough by the media from a young age anyway which is incredibly hard to combat for the majority of people, which brings me back to the original point of the media being problematic ??‍♀️

      • 2nd June 2018 / 12:26 am

        Surely “fat” isn’t better than plus size?
        How do you suggest we refer to overweight people?

        • blacktulipbeauty
          2nd June 2018 / 12:34 am

          Of course not. You’ve said it there – overweight! It’s a medical and factual term but these terms don’t need to be brought into fashion, especially not in a demeaning way – that was my point in this post

          • 2nd June 2018 / 12:35 am

            So you’d rather see “overweight” stores and sections in stores than “plus size” stores and sections?
            That’s just silly, words should not have that kind of power over people.

          • blacktulipbeauty
            2nd June 2018 / 12:44 am

            Well I literally just said that these words shouldn’t be brought into fashion at all so I’ve no idea where you got that from. No they shouldn’t but they do and that’s the sad reality of the world now unfortunately because people are super judgemental!

          • 2nd June 2018 / 12:45 am

            So you think all sizes should be available in all stores ? Or what is your solution for overweight fashion

          • blacktulipbeauty
            2nd June 2018 / 12:54 am

            I can’t offer a solid foolproof solution unfortunately as that’d involve crap tons of research and a whole team of people but I think general wider margins for sizing in high street stores would definitely help to make people feel more included and accepted – that being larger AND smaller. And regulating the measurements of them too so that all stores are creating the same measurements for each size. Maybe even start offering clothes for different body shapes too and see how that works as some of us are smaller and larger in different areas of our figures! I believe in a lot of George garments they’re offering up to a size 30 now and they’re cheap as chips and it seems to be going really well for them!

  12. 2nd June 2018 / 4:41 am

    I feel like the whole size naming scheme needs a huge overhaul. Women are beautiful whether they’re a size 0, 4, 7, 12, 19, and etc. I know one thing I’ve faced is that petite size cost more than regular size?? But yeah, I totally get your point – at least have a way that doesn’t embarrass shopper. Thanks for sharing your thoughts ♥

    Nancy ♥

  13. 2nd June 2018 / 10:47 pm

    I have so many opinions on this issue. Firstly, your comment regarding garment cut offs is totally valid but if you look closely, petite clothes are often more expensive than ‘regular’ clothes. Not at the initial price, but when sales come, I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen the same item on ASOS or Topshop in petite and regular and the regular has 50% off and the petite version is still full price or only 10/20% off. As someone 5ft tall, size 4 with size 2 feet my bank balance would be having a party if we really did use the ‘more material, more money’ principle but that’s not how the world works so I’d love to know why New Look chose to up the price. My first encounter with the term plus size wasn’t anything to do with the high street at all, it was fashion shoot casting briefs. It was literally just a descriptor they used to cast back then (going back a decade or so) and wasn’t used so publicly. So my view of the phrase in my brain is linked to how it was introduced to me. I’ve never really considered it as a fat shaming term and just associated it in the same way as I would the petite or tall section. There definitely needs to be wider ranges across the board when it comes to the number of sizes offered. I see brands on ASOS all the time that only stock an 8-14 or something equally ridiculous and wonder how they ever make money. You’ve raised so many interesting points here. Definitely food for thought. And this is by far the longest comment I’ve ever left anyone. Essay over. I really enjoyed reading this! x


  14. 8th June 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I cannot stand people who say that “plus size” clothing should cost more money, honestly, they won’t be “plus size” themselves so it is just massively hating on larger bodies! And exactly do people stop and think sometimes, larger women and men can feel so empowered in their body and are happy, you are right, as long as they are healthy there is nothing wrong with it. Stores 100% need to cater for more sizes and shapes, bigger sizes, smaller sizes, more range in petite or tall clothing! It is sad that there are 0 votes for the first poll, that is why it is great that fashion companies like Missguided do campaigns promoting all bodies, but then again they do “curve” clothing and “plus” clothing but they are in the same sizes??? hmm. Interesting to see the votes for whether or not you think the term “plus size clothing” was created to shame larger women! I don’t think me and others can have a fair comment on this because I have not experience what it is like to be “plus sized” you know what I mean? Interested to hear others opinions though! Great blog post I enjoyed reading it as you can tell with my long comment haha! LOVE your hair in the pics x x

  15. Ashton
    9th June 2018 / 10:30 am

    I personaly hate the term plus size becuase i feel it brings a person down to be just a size. When it comes to clothes prices I understand where they coming from, they do have to use more material so I uncerstand that. I do not think it is a punishment to people, i think it is a fact of the economy

  16. 18th June 2018 / 3:51 pm

    I loved reading this post! I was astonsihed when I saw that New Look had raised their prices on their plus-size ranges and it’s refreshing knowing that more people feel the shame. I totally agree with everything you should and it was awesome that you shared this. 🙂

    • blacktulipbeauty
      22nd June 2018 / 10:50 pm

      I know it was quite crappy to hear ? I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you for reading! ❤️

  17. 30th June 2018 / 1:17 am

    This post just made my day
    Nice write up sis✌

    • blacktulipbeauty
      30th June 2018 / 10:01 am

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment!

Leave Me A Comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:

Looking for Something?