As plus size bodies fight for visibility, it seems as if there’s one particular body type that is easy for the mainstream to digest: the hourglass. You’ve likely heard “body like a coke bottle” in a song or read a fashion magazine’s advice on how to dress your curvy body as the only acknowledgement of plus size bodies. Plus size models in advertisements have completely flat stomachs and can often only look plus size by the hourglass curvature of their bodies. Companies have been known to use padding on the models to further accentuate this shape. With this messaging, it can be easy to forget that other bodies exist and need to be celebrated.
The hourglass figure is defined by both hips and bust measurements that are significantly larger than the waist. In a piece for Madame Noire, Charing Ball notes that only eight percent of women of any size actually have an hourglass body by definition. She also writes, “While seeing bigger women is an improvement and empowering in itself, if all we are really seeing is bigger versions of the same image we’ve been force-fed since we were kids, all we are really doing is trading in one oppression for another.”
I really got to thinking about this concept after reading some tweets from fat activist Ariel Woodson about the topic. Woodson is one person who I always see pushing for more inclusive representation so I wanted to get her perspective on why we need to see more visibility for bodies who are not hourglass in plus size fashion.
“It’s so important that we as a community make sure that we’re celebrating all fat bodies, not just those deemed as ‘acceptably fat’ by the mainstream,” Woodson tells me. “It’s important to remember that not only body size and skin color garner privilege and attention, but shape can as well. There’s a severe underrepresentation of bodies that can’t be easily categorized as ‘curvy in the right places.’ It’s dangerous for us to follow the lead of the mainstream and create a hierarchy in which hourglass and pear shaped bodies are preferred over others.”
While some may argue that seeing any plus size bodies in the mainstream is progress we should celebrate, Woodson presents an alternative take.
“Even though we’re working towards rejecting the idea that a thin body is the only valuable one, it is important to remember that dismantling one ideal (thinness) will be in vain if we create a new set of standards that value some bodies over others.”
Woodson says she lovingly defines her own body shape as refrigerator or “box bodied” and she would like to see more bodies like hers being celebrated in the same way as her curvy counterparts. And in a way that responsibility falls on the plus size community to challenge the mainstream’s control of the narrative of what being plus size means.
“We’re being noticed and getting more mainstream media representation, but we can’t allow their ideas to shape our conversation,” says Woodson. “And we have to all work on our own internalized standards about what shapes are desirable.”
There are plus size bloggers who are not hourglass or pear-shaped that are helping to show the wider lens of plus size bodies. I polled folks on my personal social media as well as asked Woodson to pick some of her favorites and came up with a list of 15 non-hourglass bloggers you should know. It’s important to note that I do not know these bloggers measurements so I went on either self-identification as another body type written on their blog or I selected them based on someone else’s nomination. I’m not interested in defining someone’s body type so much as showing that other body types exist in plus size fashion.
This list is not exhaustive but I hope that it’s a start to a conversation!
15 Non-Hourglass Plus Size Fashion Bloggers To Know!
Simply Curvy was nominated by Fat Girl Flow and I have to say that I was missing out myself by not following her already. After looking through her blog and lusting after her looks, I saw that she defines herself as apple-shaped. You can catch her styling everything from casual boyfriend jeans to a shimmery party dresses.