““What is big enough?” she asks. “Big enough to us at Bella is if you are within your healthy weight range for your height and bone structure, that’s big enough. You shouldn’t be above that. With size 22 models, the garments don’t fit right. And it’s not healthy. I’ve not yet met a woman who is a size 22 who is healthy. Of course, there are also a lot of girls who are far too thin”.”


The quote above is from Chelsea Bonner, the manager of Bella Model Management, from an article by noted fashion blogger Patty Huntington, on the recent success of Bella Model’s Robyn Lawley.

Infuriating. As if discrimination in the straight sized fashion industry weren’t enough, we have to contend with these attitudes from people who, in theory, should know better than to make judgements based on size. The ‘fun’ way people get around making the judgement in the industry these days is to claim concern about your health. O rly? So why don’t straight sizes face the same scrutiny, based on inactivity, food, lifestyle, addiction, etc?

Its quite simple: plus sizes are, by default, regarded as ugly. We have to justify why our fashion needs are valid, time and time again. I confronted Ms Bonner on her Facebook page and this was her answer:

“Hi Jodie, of course all women should have access to fashion! My comments were directly related to modelling and in the context of an entire conversation not just a sound bite! Great story on Robyn, and the use of curvy models in high fashion, which is what the focus should be on. One of our Fav style gurus Megan Moir Pardy is totally fabulous and really curvy!”

I groaned at the last sentence – its the equivalent of a white person saying, “I have a black friend” in an argument about racist behaviour. ie, Oh, tee hee, I know someone who is really fat, so I can’t possibly be discriminating against fat people!

And thanks once again to one of the original members of Don’t Tell Me What Size I Must B, Velvet d’Amour for her reaction to the story:

“You can easily be, “within your healthy weight range for your height and bone structure,” whilst smoking 8 packs of cigarettes a day, snorting coke, getting drunk on a daily basis. The expectation that plus size models need to uphold a statute of health whilst supermodels snort coke, and others literally die of anorexia whilst walking down the runway is absurd.
As to healthy and plus sized- Jillian (Camarena) Williams-Shot Put-2008 Olympian and Crystl Bustos-Softball- 200/2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and Cheryl Haworth-Weightlifting- 2000 Olympic Bronze Medalist, to name just a few.”

Update: Found this quote from an article in The Age newspaper in 2007 with Chelsea Bonner talking about plus sizes. I wonder what has changed in that time for her to make a statement like “size 22 are not healthy”?

“The only thing I can think of is that it’s not cool; that there’s some embarrassment about stocking plus sizes.

“We’re a very judgmental society that’s really confused about size. Slimness does not always equate to health … On the one hand we’re warning young girls about anorexia; on the other, mainstream retail is telling women that full-bodied figures are unacceptable.”

Igigi's gorgeous Francesca dress

Igigi's gorgeous Francesca dress

Due to time constraints and a myriad of other personal reasons, I’ve decided to wrap up the original Yahoo Group for Don’t Tell Me What Size I Must Be. The group must be one of the longest running of its type on the internet, accumulating a steady 2500+ members during its ten years, and I’ve had a wonderful time running it.

For the time being, I will keep it there but no longer accept new members or add new information. Instead, this blog and information website will be the group’s new home. I can promise that I will maintain the information pages, adding and subtracting as the need requires. There’s still a need to promote plus size fashion, to have a freely available directory so that all can explore the world of plus size fashion.

In 2010, after ten years of activism, what are we still fighting for?

  • Variety – colours, styles, shapes, inspiration
  • Availability – if only the US and European markets would ship internationally, it would make such a difference!
  • Recognition – instead of disdain, realise that women with plus sized figures love fashion, want to spend money on it and are eternally frustrated.
  • Positioning – department stores, stop putting plus sized women’s clothing at the back of the store, treating the majority of your shoppers as an afterthought or embarrassment!
  • Discovery – we want designers who understand the needs of our market, who celebrate it and we want to celebrate your work, too
  • Encouragement – why can’t women over size 14-16 easily access active wear, so we can exercise in the appropriate clothing?
  • There’s a long way to go, but I want to encourage you all to keep pushing, keep working towards these goals and others.

    Beth Ditto launches her range at Evans UK

    Beth Ditto launches her range at Evans UK

    At last, the collection that Beth Ditto – the current plus size fashion muse – has been launched at Evans.  That top reminds me of a certain Duran Duran album (*cough* showing my age) but the clothes themselves are at least interesting and different from other places on offer.  Such an eighties look to much of the clothing in terms of colours and shapes.  Significantly, much of the collection will suit women who are apple shaped.  They get the least amount of options (IMHO) as they are regarded as the least desirable (as compared to hourglass plus size shapes).

    The full range can be seen in this article or at Evans UK.

    Every era eventually comes to a close...bye bye Geocities!

    Every era eventually comes to a close...bye bye Geocities!

    Don’t Tell Me What Size I Must B has been in existence since August 2000 on a Yahoo Geocities website – nearly a decade!

    Unfortunately, Yahoo Geocities itself will be discontinuing as of October 2009, so I am transferring all of the information over to this website between now and October. Twas time for a spruce up at any rate. All the links in the fashion directory will be checked for current information and new links will be added in.  I welcome any suggestions for the directory – however, I ask that you check it before posting a recommendation as I may have already listed the store.

    If you’d like to join the regular members to chat about fashion and plus sized issues, please feel free to join at Yahoo Groups.