Proud2Bme | It’s Time to Stop Labeling Women’s Bodies

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It’s Time to Stop Labeling Women’s Bodies

By Carla Roman--Recently, Refinery 29 published a piece entitled, “The Medium-Sized Woman Problem” by Kelsey Miller. Summed up in one quote, this is the article’s main point: “Thin is normal, fat is bad, and anything in between is confusing.” Miller hits home on this one issue facing society today.

Some brands believe that they are solving this issue by moving to a more realistic, “un-touched” ad campaign. But by doing this, these brands are enforcing a new language and classification system in media. These brands have added “un-touched” and “real women” labels behind their initiatives. This is a problem.

Our society is insistent on having a label, category and clear image of what is what when it comes to the female body. In campaigns, a woman is now portrayed as either the “runway model” or the “plus-sized model” and as either “re-touched” or “un-touched.” This divide splits everything for the reader, consumer and brand into a neat black-and-white spectrum. So, what happens to the body that falls in between?

Media has created a label divide, and that divide contributed to the recent Amy Schumer upset over Glamour’s “Chic at Every Size” issue. Schumer, like many other women in the world, does not exist in one of two spectrums; she’s not considered thin but she also isn’t plus-size. Yet, due to an insistence on labeling and branding, media has to find a place for these body types. For Schumer, it ended up with her being labeled as plus-size in Glamour, which is simply not accurate.

This issue can only be resolved when mainstream media and brands realize that there is no clear language or label for the female body. Women do not fall into one of two categories, and therefore they cannot be branded in one of two ways. A successful campaign would not link initiatives to labels and definitions but rather would integrate all sizes into its shoots and covers, and leave it at that.

There is no need to define the “medium-sized” woman or to create a space for her in media and language. This would further extend the labeling divide. What needs to change is how brands, media and society approach the body. A body has no definition. Like someone’s personality and DNA, each body is different and unique.  

There are no universal labels to define a body and shape, and anti-label campaigns can be the start of a real change. Some brands have already jumped on this bandwagon and discreetly changed how they advertise. For example, some brands are no longer use the term “also available in plus-sizes,” but rather state the sizes that the particular garment they are featuring runs in. Removing body labels such as “plus-size” can begin to change the spectrum and the insistence that society has on labeling and classifying the human body.

All in all, “The Medium-Sized Women Problem” is not an issue with the women at all. Rather, the issue lies with the language and classification that media insists on creating. Readers, consumers and media have to accept that the body cannot be easily classified, and embrace the diversity of the human shape. Once this is achieved, there will be no problem with the representation of any type of body or figure.

About the blogger: Carla Roman is a 23-year-old native New Yorker. She loves books, films, writing and spending time with her one-year-old Shiba Inu. Carla has a bachelor of arts in English and communications from the State University of New York at Albany and works in the publishing industry.

For more on body image, check out:

Yes, We Still Need Body Positivity

5 Reasons Why Self-Love Matters

Your Ultimate Body-Shaming Survival Guide

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