Jennifer Alexander is a published writer, plus size model and body confidence advocate living in Canada. She studied English literature at the University of Toronto and began her career life writing for the theater. Later studying at The Second City and being a huge advocate for the representation of diversity in the media, Jennifer often uses humor to shed light on some of societies more serious issues
Negative Comments about Body Image
It began in late 2013 when I noticed my Facebook wall being berated by angry comments, mostly female, over a link posted by a friend to a local plus size modelling competition. Naturally curious about what could possibly lead to such outrage, I clicked on the link. Upon first inspection, I could not find much of a flaw with the competition until I cast my gaze to the “rules and regulations” section of the entry form. It seemed the issue my friends were having with the contest was this particular company’s definition of the term “plus size”. In this case “plus size” was defined as being anything above a size 8. Sure this took me by surprise at first, but I can not say that I was as terribly offended as my female counterparts. I had never really spent a great deal of time contemplating on the term “plus size” before as I never had any inkling that it could possibly define me.
Body Positive Companies & Being In The Middle
It seems in recent years that there has been an ever-shrinking gap between the so called “straight-sizes” (< size 6) and the “plus-sizes” (12+). This has been due to strides that many companies like Dove are making to include “real” body types in the media. Before this incident, I had never really used the term “plus size” to describe myself as I, like many, believed the term meant someone much “bigger and taller”.
Being a self-proclaimed Inbetweenie (someone who is not plus size but far from straight size), I had always been squeezing myself and all my “assets” into whatever the largest size was that the mainstream stores would carry. It was at this point of revelation however that I realized that there was a whole category of fashion out there that described me perfectly. Suddenly terms like “healthy body-type”, “curvy” and “fiercely real” were welcome recruits to my banner and I became a crusader; spreading the news that “curves are in”. I didn’t care if it was called “plus size”, “real size” or “healthy size”, I finally belonged.
Spreading The Word
Social media accounts and began using social media to spread my message. It wasn’t long before local brands started contacting me about working together and spreading the message about body-confidence and that fashion can be for everyone. It was at this point that I had to take a bit of a step back.
It was one thing coming to terms with my own size and talking to other girls through the privacy of the internet about body-confidence, however, it was another thing entirely being the poster-child, if you will, and being front an center. Until this point I don’t think that I even owned a bikini and definitely never thought about letting someone photograph me in one. I decided for the “fake it until you make it” ploy and dived in head-first. I became a plus size model!
Body Issues & Why It’s Difficult
Whenever I see interviews with other plus size models they always say things like “I never had issues with my size” or “I have always loved my body”; sadly I can not say the same. I say this not to bring about discouragement, but rather to instill the opposite. I never thought that I could get to a place in my life where I felt comfortable physically about my body and though ironic to some, it is all because of the term “plus size”. I often get asked whether I believe the term “plus size” should be stricken from the vocabulary, and my reply is simply “not yet”.
There really needn’t be such outrage at the term plus-size as there is a great deal of nobility held in the intention of companies as they attempt to bridge the fashion gap and make it more inclusive. In one of my YouTube [HERE] videos I speak about this topic precisely and explain why it is difficult, at least for now, for everyone to just drop the term “plus size” altogether. The industry has spent years defining and giving power to this term and we need some adjustment time in order, as a society, to replace it. I can not demonize the term myself because it literally saved my life.
My message to my insecure body-shy readers is this: I too was in your position. I too had, and still have, self-esteem issues. I still have hard days but the road gets better. Though it is often not an easy road, if you surround yourself with the right people and find your “plus size”, you will, with out a doubt, come to the realization that “every body is beautiful, even mine”.
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