“I think everyone should have access to lovely clothes, BUT I do not think it’s right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle… I don’t believe stores should stock clothes below or above a certain weight. They should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go in and can’t find a size.”
Jamelia, Loose Women, ITV, UK
Unfortunately this is undoubtedly a view held by many people, although when a prime time, TV presenter, with young daughters says it, it kind of digs a little deeper. We often think that as we get more youthful, each generation should be less prejudice and more accepting than the last, although it seems where weight is concerned, for Jamelia that simply isn’t the case.
It is clear when you read the above statement that it wasn’t said by anyone with an actual grasp on the topic but as more and more plus size brands and lines open we have to wonder what motivates these thoughts. Is it simply that Jamelia is simply another ‘health concern troll’, whose understanding of weight, body image and obesity is likely gleamed from the media anyway or is it a more serious underlining malice where straight size women do not want to shop in store or wear the same clothing as plus size women.
The truth is body image and body size is a a hugely complicated issue and flippant but impact full, uninformed opinions like Jamelia’s are definitely harmful.
So we have a few questions and points for the former pop singer…
1. For starters the bracket of plus size is so broad, exactly who are you banishing from the high street? Is there a particular size you think this should start at? Because I imagine you’ve thought this through…
2. You think we all deserve to have lovely clothes (how very kind) but only if we buy them secretly and wear them where you aren’t subjected to look at us. There isn’t really a question here I just wanted to clarify that you understood how ridiculous and shallow you sound.
3. Perhaps you aren’t really aware of how size, weight and health works because you aren’t a doctor. But size and health aren’t mutually exclusive and there are lots of plus size women exercising, just like there are lots of women that you might find an acceptable dress size who aren’t. Do you worry about them? Or are they ok because you find them visually satisfactory?
4. Dresses do not facilitate an unhealthy lifestyle. Low wages, cheap fast food, expensive good food, lack of access to good food and gyms, education, time poor etc (you get the picture) facilitate unhealthy lifestyles. Nice clothes and not being shamed whilst finding said clothes do not cause unhealthy lifestyle choices. Infact if you feel good about yourself or are facilitated in feeling mentally strong you are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices… whatever your size.
5. You don’t get to decide what is a ‘good or acceptable’ body. Not only because you aren’t a Doctor but also because shaming people on both ends of the size spectrum is wrong.
You don’t think clothes should be stocked above or below a certain weight? Clothes don’t come in weights, perhaps you’ve been styled for too long to know that even if 2 women share the same dress size they don’t necessarily carry their weight in the same way or share the same lifestyle choices.
Trying to decipher someone’s lifestyle by looking at them isn’t an educated guess, it is simply a guess.
Teenage girls self esteem is at shocking low levels, to even suggest that shaming girls or women is the solution to a complex issue is sheer madness. Not a day goes past when plus size or obesity isn’t in the paper. There is no end of discussion but imagine that, Jamelia had the answer all along (or not). Shaming and bullying has been the tactic for so long it is clearly not turning us all into the perfect ten.
But perhaps finally and most importantly is that quite simply a person’s body is personal. We have to stop believing that we have the right to judge each other. We all have a responsibility to ourselves to be the best we can not for others but for our own happiness. Whatever someone’s size, they’re a human and shaming or trying to disappear anyone from view is simply not an acceptable view in 2015.