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Why I Stand With Amy Schumer: Plus-Size Labels Need to Stop

For those of you who don’t religiously stalk Amy Schumer on all forms of social media, the actress made an important statement last week, but everyone seems to have missed her point.

Here’s the rundown: Schumer called out Glamour magazine on Instagram last week after the publication included her name on the cover of their Plus-Sized issue. Schumer responded by posting the photo of the magazine cover by stating, “Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size. What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamourous.”

Later in the week, Glamour issued a statement saying, “We believe her passionate and vocal message of body positivity IS inspiring, as is the message of the many other women, of all sizes, featured. The edition did not describe her as plus-size. We are sorry if we offended her in any way.”

Their response, however, sums up the very problem with the cover: Schumer isn’t frustrated that she was deemed plus sized, but that others will now believe their own bodies to be. 

Schumer stated in the Instagram caption that she fluctuates between a size 6 to 8. Plus-sizes in the U.S. begin at a size 14 with an estimated 65% of women wearing a size 14 and over. Schumer’s size 6 to 8 frame actually places her among the thinnest American women. But with Glamour labeling her as plus-sized, the magazine is sending the message that she is heavier than “average.” And this is what Schumer is getting at.

The average, non-plus-sized model weighs 23 percent less than does the average woman. Only 5% of the actual female population in the US actually fit into the model type. Five percent. Yet, the 0-6 sample sized women we see on the runways are depicted as “normal, ” when they are in fact the minority. Glamour is telling its readers that a “normal” weight, an even slimmer figure than the national average in Schumer’s case, is actually overweight. Women are inundated with the traditionally thin model type, so much so, that they become the “normal” in the public eye. This creates a disconnect between the real average and the so-called average presented in entertainment or on runways.

And this misconception is precisely what Schumer is addressing. She wonders why, when she is actually thinner than the average woman, she is being labeled as “plus,” and is being used to perpetuate these unrealistic beauty ideals. Labeling Schumer as “plus” makes the actress a part of the normative representation of women, which is why she responded to Glamour’s statement on Twitter the same day. Schumer tweeted, “Bottom line seems to be we are done with these unnecessary labels which seem to be reserved for women.”  Schumer isn’t a “plus,” but Glamour’s mislabeling tells women, women who are plus, women who are fat shamed every day for failing to fit into the thin definition of acceptable female bodies that they are more than plus. They aren’t even on the spectrum. They aren’t attractive. 

And this has real impact. A study found that 69% of girls measured stated that women in magazines had an influence of their concept of the perfect body. With the lack of size diversity, it’s no surprise that 25% of girls surveyed by Teen People magazine felt pressured by the media to have a perfect body. And where does this pressure manifest? Another survey found that girls who frequently read fashion magazines were twice as likely to have dieted and three times as likely to have exercised. Since 1970 eating disorders have risen by 400%. Women and girls strive to be the image they are told is the norm, told is attractive, even damaging their bodies and mental health to do so.

So, no, Glamour, Amy Schumer was not offended by being called plus-sized. She was offended that you were using her to maintain normative body standards for women. And thankfully there are people like her in the public eye to finally call out the damaging and ridiculous pressures women face. Because there may be 95% of women who don’t meet the female ideals shown in the public eye, but there is no doubt that 100% of women have felt their body was inadequate. And Amy Schumer, as well as I, are here to tell you that you are not. It is the organizations who represent you, and fail to, that are inadequate. You are beautiful.

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