Angry Bird

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Should plus size clothes be banned? Our resident ranter and mum-of-two Michelle Harris gets stuck into a big fat issue

So bingo wings wobbled in indignation all around the nation this week as the phrase ‘plus-size’ was up for debate. Either it is fab and funky and honours the curves, or it is a pie-in-the-face offence. I’m undecided. Gobby Brummie C-lister Jamelia added fuel to the fire when she brain-farted all over ITV that plus size women should not be catered for in High Street clothes shops. She said on whiney-whinge-bag lunchtime show Loose Women that they should “be made to feel uncomfortable when clothes shopping” and have to buy their clothes from specialist shops. Marquees R Us, presumably. You must know it, it’s just on the High Street sandwiched in between You Big-chested Bitch and Skinny Sluts Only Ltd.

The misguided Loose Woman (aren’t they all?!) then took to Twitter to defend herself, saying, “Never waste your time trying to explain, to people committed to misunderstanding you” (the rogue comma is hers, not mine) and then went on Breakfast Telly to waste her time trying to explain to… well… you know. Where to begin, my friends, on this super-size bargain-bucket of body shaming nonsense, I’m unsure, but feed me enough chocolate buttons and I’ll get the job done.

Healthy women come in all shapes and sizes. I know, it’s shocking. Or, you know, it’s common sense. You can be very thin but like the pies; wiry, althetic, or just unable to gain weight. You can be larger, blessed with boobage, hips and a hefty arse coverage and still leave the house without the involvement of a forklift truck. Why can’t women just leave each other alone?

Provided a woman is eating some food, and not all the food, I take no issue with her. Naturally thin, and they get jutty-out hipster hips, sharp-as-shit cheekbones, and they can wear all the fancy-strapped braless type tops that we racked-up mammas can only drool in the general direction of. Naturally curvaceous and they get to do Monroe chic cleavage-filled wonderousness, and bootiful bottoms in pencil skirts. There is no ‘bad’ here. There is only different. And difference should be embraced, beauty should be celebrated, in all its forms.

I have never met a woman who claims that she is perfect. If I did, I would probably assume that she was compensating for something. Women worry about how men see us, how women see us, what friends think, what strangers think, what enemies think, are we judged for how we look in our jobs, have we let ourselves go since childbearing, do we look our age, do we look like we try too hard, do we look like we try too little, and it’s bloody tiring, if you let it be. I used to. But not now, baring the odd hormone-driven woe is me rage. I’m human after all.

I’m thirty-five. I used to be skinny till I discovered ladette culture and a university-long love of the pint which proved irresversible even though these days I am a vino-fiend whose binge-drinking is much lessened by night feeds. I have been a size ten. I have been a size sixteen, although sometimes I chose to forget that by cutting the labels out, because if you can’t see it, it didn’t happen, right?

Now I am between those, and while I, like many, am in constant pursuit of the slightly-smaller-bottom, I am pretty comfortable in my skin. I have had two kids. This has sagged some bits of me, padded others, inexplicably shrunk my waist and immeasurably improved my rack. I do not qualify, I don’t think, for Jamelia’s Marquees R Us, but I if I tried on miniskirts in Miss Selfridge I might need one for each arse cheek. Thankfully the High Street is a mixed bag with something to make everyone feel good about themselves. Sadly no “Please Reverse the Drivel I Spouted On TV” outlet for washed-up popstars, but hey, she’s still vaguely famous so she probably isn’t bothered.

If a woman has health issues stemming directly from her size, whether she is underweight or overweight, then yes, it would be wise to address them. But the phrase plus size – which has actually been evolved so much and steeped in such derision that it is now very much a minus – to describe anyone over a twelve, should probably go the way of other fashion faux-pas like shellsuits and bum bags.

Just be a woman, don’t define yourself by your size. You’re more than that. Go easy on yourself. And do not judge other women for looking different to you, either. It’s knobby. Ignore chubby cheeks in favour of winning smiles. Forgive a skinny arm if it gives its babies warm hugs. Saggy boobs may have kept humans alive, mum-tums equal motherhood, and flat-stomachs may just be the result of bloody hard work. Women knocking women is ugly, even if the people doing it are beautiful. Sod fat-shaming, sod skinny-shaming, sod plus size, sod size zero, sod ‘real women’. We are all real women. Respect that. Or I may force you to loop-watch Loose Women.

Michelle Harris

Following a career in teaching, Michelle decided to boss her own children round, instead of other people’s. Outside of the Internet, Michelle can mostly be found in the wine aisle of the supermarket.

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