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Plus-Sized Personality Pt. 9: Still Not Represented

It’s been a while, y’all. Like, really -- I think over a year? Anyways, I’m back with this awesome series, picking it back up on a subject that I’ve kind of avoided for a while.

My opinions on Ashley Graham.

Everyone loves her. She’s got over 6 million followers on Instagram, has been in a music video with Joe Jonas, and she’s got her own lingerie line. But, if you actually paid attention, you’d realize that she isn’t exactly representative of the entire plus-sized population.

I know damn well my collar bones don’t poke out on my Instagram photos -- or any photos, actually.

In fact, I don’t know any plus-sized women’s who do. Maybe there are some out there, but in reality, not all of us can afford a glam team to help us look camera ready all the time.

Literally, the other night, I told my friends how I refused to post selfies on social media because of how wide my neck was.

Sure, you can work out. Sure, you can eat better. But, at the end of the day, we’re each shaped differently. And every person I know constantly references Ashley Graham as the epitome of how plus-sized women should be treated and viewed and aspire to be like.

But what about those of us who don’t look like her?

Where does that leave us? She has a really strong jawline that most of us plus-sized women don’t have the luxury of sporting. It means that her double-chin (if she even has one) never shows in pictures. Also, can we talk about her neck for a second? I don’t know any plus-sized woman who’s hollow shows. At all. Ever.

Feels after joining the #Revlon fam! #liveboldly

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At first I thought I was jealous. Here’s this woman -- who’s tall, has great hair, and always wears great clothes that probably cost more than I make in a year -- walking around and getting attention and support by EVERYONE in the industry (except Cheryl Tiegs), and the rest of us struggle with body image every day. Literally, I stand in front of the mirror for ten minutes wondering whether or not the clothes I’m about to walk out in will make me look okay. I dread being in a room that someone might take my picture because if I don’t have time to situate myself, then I just look like a potato.

No, I’m serious.

It’s an anxiety I’ve had since I was like 7 and was always larger than everyone else. At first I was taller, then I had bigger boobs, and finally I was just thicker than everyone else. Even now, I’m the thickest of my friend group, and if we ever go shopping, I make my way to the super-small plus-sized section while they peruse the huge regular ones. Or, they trek into the all-plus-sized shops with me and marvel at the atrocities that are plus-sized clothes (but that’s another story).

But I’m actually not jealous.

What I’m trying to say here is that we shouldn’t be tokenizing Ashley Graham. She shouldn’t be the one to represent all. I mean, she’s even been under fire for not practicing what she preaches. I’m not saying that I’m upset the woman has been successful -- in fact, I’m very happy that she’s been able to experience all that she has (I mean, come on, Joe-freaking-Jonas??????). But her body type and what she looks like shouldn’t be the standard for all plus-sized women, just like the handful of bone-thin supermodels shouldn’t represent all of the thin women out there. It’s not fair to place us in a box. No one is a cookie-cut-out of the other.

If we’re supposed to be working towards a more inclusive society, this can be the place to start. Body image is something that both men AND women struggle with, regardless of weight. But, the societal standard for Western beauty still remains, and we have to start straying away from it in order to progress. I challenge you to take a look at the plus-sized women in your life and remind them that they’re amazing -- they work, they cook, they go to school, and they kick ass. Just remember that we’re all different, and we shouldn’t be enclosed into borders because of it.

You can categorize Royall as either Leslie Knope when she has her color-coded binders: or Hyde whenever Jackie comes into a room before they start dating: There is no in-between.  Royall recently graduated with her B.A. in Sociology & Anthropology from CNU and now studies Government & International Relations at Regent University. She also serves as the Victim Advocate and Community Outreach Coordinator for Isle of Wight Co., VA in Victim Witness Services. Within Her Campus, she served as a Chapter Writer for CNU for one year, a Campus Expansion Assistant for a semester, Campus Correspondent for two years, and is in the middle of her second semester as a Chapter Advisor.  You can find her in the corner of a subway-tiled coffee shop somewhere, investigating identity experiences of members of Black Greek Letter Organizations at Primarily White Institutions as well as public perceptions of migrants and refugees. Or fantasizing about ziplining arcoss the French Alps. 
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