The only time in my life that I’ve been small is when I was in high school and was eating less than 1000 calories a day while exercising at a minimum one hour a day, and sometimes up to four hours a day (I was on a dance team). The smallest I could possibly get my body was a size 4/5 and even then I had curves and muscle.
I tell you this so that you know that I’ve never, not one in my life, no matter how hard I tried, been skinny. My genetics dictate that I was never, ever, ever going to be thin. So … I’ve basically spent the last 10 years of my adult life coming to terms with the body that I have, and trying to accept the way I look. It’s not alway easy, and there are days when I look at the labels on my pants and sigh wearily. I eat healthy foods. I do not eat processed garbage. I don’t exercise nearly as often as I should, I admit, but I’m trying.
I’ve been a somewhat vocal advocate for body acceptance and positivity and for not shaming those of us whose sizing is deemed plus. For the last several years, I’ve hovered in the 14/16 or 16/18 range, depending on a few factors. Since my hysterectomy last September, I have been able to move around less than I would like and despite eating as healthy as possible, I’ve gone up to a 16/18 or 18/20 in some brands. It’s not a number I love seeing, but it is what it is and I know that a lot of the extra sizing has to do with the way my body is now shaped around my torso.
Anyhow, I say all of this because I want you to know that I know what it’s like to be that large, to see that number. I know what it looks like when it’s staring me back in the mirror and despite what a certain much-talked-about plus size model insists on saying, it is not quite as large as some would have you believe.
Look, I applaud Tess Holliday for getting a modeling contract. She’s a beautiful woman and I covet her hair. But … she is NOT a size 22. That is technically only one or two sizes up from where I am right now, and while I am at my biggest, there is no way that I am close to being this big.
I would guess she’s more like a 26 or a 28 and it pisses me off so damn much that she continues to lie to the public about what size she is. Imagine if you’re a size 26 or a 28 and you’re trying like hell to lose weight and you see these pictures of her and read her interviews where she talks about being a size 22 and you’re thinking to yourself, “what the hell am I doing wrong?” Think about the discouragement you’d be feeling, wondering why in the hell your pants don’t have a smaller number on the tag, or why you just can’t seem to hit your goal. You’ve seen what a 22 looks like, you look at yourself in the mirror and you think, “I look like that, so why am I not a 22?” BECAUSE THAT IS NOT A 22 M’DEAR.
It’s the same thing that Jennifer Hudson did back in the day before she became a Weight Watchers representative and she was telling everyone that she was a size 16. I looked at her, looked at myself, and thought, “hmmm, maybe I’m smaller than I thought.” I took myself off to the store and tried on a 12/14 and I couldn’t get the damn pants up over my ass and I was so sad. You know why? Because that woman wasn’t a 16. She was visibly larger than I was, she was lying about it, and it was frustrating.
Not only did it make me question my own size and make me hopeful that my diet du jour was working – it wasn’t – but it made me mad because you have all of these beautiful, larger women claiming to be body positive while still lying about their size. Why? The world knows you’re fat. They look at you and they can see you’re not thin. You are free. You don’t have to say you’re a 2 when you’re really a 4 lest you not walk the runway. No one cares if you’re a 20, 22, or 24. Those are all really big numbers. At that point, does it matter which one you are?
Why are you lying?
To me it says that you’re really not quite as accepting of yourself as you would have people believe and that all of your cheerleading for the larger lady is actually tinged with shame and disappointment. You are not empowered. You’re cowered. You can’t get away with lying and saying you’re an 18 because that would be absolutely ridiculous, so you pick a random number that is smaller than your real number … why again?
Now, I don’t have a photograph of me in underwear laying around, but I do have a pic of me in a bathing suit from our trip to Hawaii in February. This is me at my largest. I’m actually about five pounds lighter right now than I was here, but it hasn’t impacted my shape or size in any noticeable way. The bathing suit is from Lands End and the size equals roughly an 18/20. I’m standing at an awkward angle, but there is no way in Hades that my arms are one size down from hers. Two of my arms is one of her arms, and I don’t say that to flatter myself. My arms are among my worst features so it’s not like I’m being delusional here. It’s an a-line swim dress, so you can’t really see my legs – especially because I have shorts on underneath – but I guarantee you that as loud as my thighs thunder, they do not thunder as loud as Tess’s. Again. 22 my arse.
This is a picture of me taken while we were in London in November. I was two months out from my surgery and in the worst shape of my life. All of my clothes here are a size 1x (again, Lands End) which translates to a 16/18 or 18/20 depending on what I have on and how they measure it. My stomach is HUGE here because I was still very swollen from my surgery. Also, on top of the clothes I have on, I am also wearing what I can assure you is a nearly 8 pound coat when wet (it was). So, here I am wearing a size 16/18/20 with a full layer of wool on top, and it would take probably two more jackets for me to look as padded as she does naked.
Again, there is no way that woman shown above is only 1-2 sizes larger than me.
I don’t say this to make myself feel better. I say this because I‘m tired of the lies and half-truths from people who are considered the leading voices in the fight for body acceptance.
You want to fight for acceptance and be the face of a movement? OWN YOUR SHIT.