Ashley Graham thinks the ‘plus-sized’ label is ‘outdated’ & needs to go


We’ve been getting to know Ashley Graham over the last month. She became the first plus-sized model to ever cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and of course the clapback was stupid. Cheryl Tiegs made a total mess of things when she questioned the “health” of Ashley’s size-16 figure. Ashley responded in a classy way and Tiegs ended up writing a passive-aggressive “sorry you were offended” open letter. Anyway, Ashley was at South by Southwest to do a panel discussion on body image, sizeism and more. The quotes are interesting:

On the term “plus sized”: “I think the word ‘plus-sized’ is totally outdated. It shouldn’t be about labels. I don’t want to be called a label, I want to be called a model.”

She wants women to be comfortable regardless of size: “As a body activist, I want to tell women to not be totally subjected to the beauty standards around you.”

On Cheryl Teigs’ comments: “Of course I was hurt by hearing it. But I just brushed it off. That’s exactly what you have to do with everything in your life.”

Advice to internet trolls: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Your mama taught you that.”

[From People Magazine]

I’m closer to Ashley’s size than, like, Emma Stone’s size, and I sort of get Ashley’s point. It’s the same point Melissa McCarthy has made as she shills her clothing line too – people in the fashion industry have declared certain clothes “plus-sized” and some clothes “regular” or “misses.” And the delineation is often arbitrary – there are many women (raises hand) who are top heavy and “plus sized” when it comes to dresses or jackets, but can shop for skirts or slacks in misses. Should the term “plus sized” go away completely? I honestly don’t know.

Meanwhile, Ashley is featured in a commercial for Lane Bryant, which I’m including below. Networks like ABC and NBC have banned the ad because they say it’s too “racy.” Meanwhile, those same networks will show Victoria’s Secret and Carl’s Jr. ads, because…??? Here’s the ad… I guess NSFW warning, because there’s some skin showing and a lady breastfeeding.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Getty.

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46 Responses to “Ashley Graham thinks the ‘plus-sized’ label is ‘outdated’ & needs to go”

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  1. Grump says:

    I’m so mad that advertisement was banned.
    Yes, there is nudity. No, there is no more nudity than a Victoria’s Secret ad. Whatever rules and censorship apply to VS ads should apply here.
    But, let’s be real, it isn’t being aired because it doesn’t submit to the male gaze. Pretty much ever VS ad should read “This body is made to be penetrated.”
    This ad doesn’t say that.
    And so it is banned.
    BS, I say.

    • Lynnie says:

      HAHAHA you went in! Where is the lie tho?

      • Grump says:

        Well, there’s nothing wrong with being penetrated, or promoting one’s desire for penetration. That’s great.
        But to censor pretty much any advertisement which shows sexy/naked women in any way OTHER than promoting sex with dudes? To appeal to dudes?
        That’s lame. Women’s bodies do not exist to please men. Apparently, this concept is shocking and inappropriate to the censorship bureau.

    • Wren says:

      Funny thing is that I can personally think of multiple dudes who would leap at the chance of getting down with AG.

      Every time VS misguidedly sends me their catalog my husband is always like “ugh they’re all way too skinny and weird looking”.

      • AshleyQ says:

        Your husband is only saying that so he doesn’t hurt your feelings. If she doesn’t like the term “plus-size”, I say we call a spade a spade and just call her what she is – FAT.

    • Tifygodess24 says:

      @grump I’m in love with your comment. It’s completely spot on.

    • Magnoliarose says:

      Yes it stupid and blatant. Nothing shocking there at all.

    • AnotherDirtyMartini says:

      Go Grump! Love your comments.

  2. Lynnie says:

    I feel women’s clothing would be soooooooo much simpler if brands went by measurements like men do, and got some standards for sizing and what not. I find it completely ridiculous how you can range in sizes for bras, pants, shirts, dresses from store to store, and STILL end up with inferior material.

    If companies are worried about cutting into profits think of it this way. We already buy a lot under the current confusing system. Imagine how much more we’d buy if we knew what we were getting EVERY SINGLE TIME

    And it’s not like they can’t do this, so the question is why?

    • layla says:

      Agreed! My bf always buys the exact same size of jeans no matter what brand or what style (slim, regular, relaxed etc). Doesn’t even need to try them on, because he knows his size and that that size will fit. It blows my mind every damn time.

      • Wren says:

        Mine too. He’s like “hey I need jeans, buy the relaxed fit ones in my size” and I do and they fit. Drives me crazy with envy. I would also like to have pockets that fit more than a chapstick in them.

      • Kitten says:

        Not to mention that men’s clothes are cheaper than women’s, even though they use far more fabric. I know somebody here once explained to me that it doesn’t work like that–that the price point comes from the cost of designing and constructing the clothes but meh, it still sucks…reminds me of that “pink tax” stuff.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Yes. It was nuts when women’s clothes started coming in a size zero, as if they were fitting the Invisible Woman. They could also look at the “Petite” label, though I don’t know how they would then signal higher armholes, shorter torso cuts etc. (which made a huge difference in my life, especially wearing suits in the corporate world). “Plus Size” is just bigger all over, yes? That would be easier to represent in measurements.

    • Magnoliarose says:

      I know I hate that. I’m not sure of the mechanics of it since women’s bodies tend to be more varied in shape but maybe at least some tailoring in store or something.

  3. Cary says:

    That commercial has a great message. Too bad it’s still necessary to have women snuggling naked to promote body positivism.

  4. sigghh says:

    Completely agree. It’s a made up label to describe a size that doesn’t fit mostly male generated beauty ideals for a mostly female dominated industry = plus sized fashion. I don’t think women love the term “plus size” ….it def has a stigma like “I’m fat but I don’t hate myself” …’s like a backhanded compliment imo….. : /

  5. Gozde says:

    I love this woman! And yes, plus size label needs to go away.

  6. JenYfromTheBlok says:

    Who remembers the “husky” label from Woolworth’s? When I was a kiddo, I guess I was, “husky” which was the 1970s version of a mini big beautiful woman.
    My point is that labeling faded (omg) and I’m assuming the label
    of plus-sized will also become a horrifying thing of the past.

    • Kitten says:

      Woolworth’s! Where you can buy tube socks, knitting yarn, and fish for your aquarium.
      I used to buy all my generic sweatshirts there so I could go home and decorate them with puffy paint. Ah, the good ol’ days.

  7. Snowflake says:

    Glad you mentioned the Carl’s Jr ads. I hate those, the women are acting like they’re having an orgasm eating a burger. Way too racy for TV.

    • Grump says:

      Ugh. I know.
      And, seriously, of all the burgers that actually could give someone an orgasm, you pick Carl Jr?
      WHUT o-0

  8. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    The labeling is pretty stupid. I’m 59 and I wear Misses sizes instead of woman’s. Not to mention that I can wear a 10-14 depending on who makes the clothes.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      As I said above, there was a time when size 0 appeared on the racks, I think at Chico’s. It was crazy. You can’t not be a size. Now things seem the opposite, everything is cut skimpy (in addition to being cheap fabric) and I’m having to scale up 2 pants sizes for a bottom that has not changed. Is Misses what we used to call Women’s — i.e. 8, 10, 12, 14? And Women’s is the new Plus Sized? Very confusing. I am regular on bottom but petite on top, and that sets off another round of hunting — especially for “petites” that don’t look doll-like (though things are MUCH better than they used to be). Oh, right, then there are Juniors: skinny, more hip clothes, right? And what about Missy? Has Missy gone away?

      I go shopping with my husband and grab things off the rack that we know will work for him instantly. Either it’s measured in inches, for his neck or waist or inseam, or a Large is a Large is a Large. And then if he buys a suit, free tailoring. Crazy. They’re messing with our minds.

      • Kitten says:

        Yeah the vanity sizing thing drives me nuts. Also, I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon and depending on the seller, some of that crap (and it IS crap) is made to fit a toddler.
        —and I’m a S/XS but in fully-grown adult sizing lol.

  9. Beckysuz says:

    Wowza! That black dress is hot! She is so gorgeous.

  10. Gina says:

    It’s unnatural for a body to store so much fat. she’s either 1) overeating, which is not healthy 2) eating healthy, but has metabolism problems and her body stores so much fat anyway, which, again, is not a sign of health. I myself have metabolism problem – my kidney form stones, my body doesn’t know how to get rid of all the salts. There’s not much I can do about it, but I dont call it healthy. Another metabolism problem – diabetes, when body can’t get rid of the glucose, again, nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a disease and many people have it. But it’s not advertised as being healthy.

    • Kitten says:

      How is it “unnatural” though? You don’t think that some women are at their most comfortable and happiest at a larger size?

    • Sam says:

      What?!? Your comment makes no sense. There is nothing unnatural about her, or diabetes (which happens in nature). Do you think you are unnatural with your metabolism problems? She is very fit and boxes, etc. Just because people have health issues doesn’t make them unnatural. I think you chose the wrong word.

  11. Susan says:

    I am 10000 percent on board with the removal of the term “plus sized,” but I worry from a retailing perspective it will never happen. Retailers are struggling to manage their inventory as is….brick and mortar stores are barely getting by…and I don’t know that they’d be willing or able to expand their minimal Inventory. It upsets me because as previous posters mentioned, sizing is inconsistent within one label, much less the industry in general. While I love to shop on the Internet, some things need to be tried on in a store. My fear is that as malls and department stores close, we are going to be taking chances on crazy ass sizing gambles (I’m looking at you, Jcrew), and a lot less retail store options. Sad.

    • Deering says:

      Maybe retailers would be doing better if they had more large sizes in the stores, for cryin’ out loud. It makes no sense that most women are–what, size 12 and up–but stores relegate those clothes to online so their brick and mortars will look “fashionable.” Heaven forfend their shops look “downmarket” because of too many fat women around. Retailers keep denying reality and will keep losing money till they get a clue.

  12. Luxe says:

    She seems like she could wear a garbage bag and still look sexy. She’s almost freakishly beautiful.

  13. Magnoliarose says:

    I’m glad Ashley is continuing on as a model and a businesswoman since she Is coming out with a lingerie line. I like that she is making her cover work for her beyond Sports Illustrated.
    I have never been much of a SI swimsuit issue fan because I think it is a little stale and don’t get the sports connection but I’m glad she capitalized on the exposure.

    It did make me feel for her about Cheryl’s comments but I think she comes out the winner here. Instead of Cheryl raining on her parade she turned it around.

  14. Jenn4037 says:

    I actually bought Ashley’s SI cover just to prove a point (she is my cover model choice). She looked stunning in her pictures. And was actually wearing a bathing suit. And one Id actually purchase!!

    I’m a large breasted woman with short arms. Shopping petite isn’t possible due to bust. Shopping plus or women’s means my sleeves have to be adjusted. The inconsistency means I wear a lot of tank tops and cardigans. Very Mumsy, but what else is a professional woman to do?

    Do away with “plus size” and force designers to cut to style (like Michael Kors) and not just add inches until it resembles a sack like other designers.

  15. Lex says:

    I usually wear about a US size 12 but since moving to Canada (from Australia where I’d wear an AU 14 or 16 (EU44ish)), I am baffled by the regular shops in the USA and Canada that don’t stock clothes for larger than a 10…… all I’ve heard my whole life is how there are more large people in USA (although AUS is creeping up too), but the fashion brands don’t cater to them… where do more than half of women shop? I am not particularly large by any means, but the L size at Forever21 is usually too small (in dresses, they’re way too short and the waist is a bit small – I can usually fit tops and jumpers but pants NO WAY).

    Then beyond that, the “plus” ranges are downright awful and are barely stocked in any shops. I get it, they want us fatties only shopping online so we aren’t uglying up their shops… but what?! In Vancouver I haven’t found a F21 that actually stocks the + range in stores. And even if they did, all the stores in the US I’ve seen with the range – it is one tiny corner in the 4 story store and has all the dregs of size 22 that noone bought.

    If they literally made their normal range in XL and XXL, they’d fit a huge percentage more people… so odd!

    • ReignbowGirl says:

      I wear a size 10 or 12 (depending on whether it’s a top or bottoms), and have no problem finding things in those sizes. It may be where you’re shopping. I live in a suburb of Vancouver, and can easily find lots of clothing in my sizes — The Gap, Old Navy (cheap jeans!), H&M, Reitman’s, RW & Co., etc. — so I suggest maybe heading to Coquitlam Centre (such an awesome mall!) or other suburban shopping areas such as Grandview Corners and Morgan Crossing in South Surrey. Happy shopping!

  16. Truthful says:

    In my country this problem won’t occur… her size doesn’t exist, so problem solved! :)

    • me says:

      Her size doesn’t exist? WTF?

    • Jenn says:

      Excellent. Overweight=nonexistent How’s that for progress?

      • Truthful says:

        @jenn: not really , the average woman in France is a size 8/10, of course there are overweighted people but most under size 16 (which doesn’t exist in most brands except the ones for plus size).
        It’s not negating a problem, it’s proper adjustment to a market.

  17. Jigli says:

    She’s extremely beautiful, a model, and she as an activist trying to persuade people not to conform to beauty standards.

    • me says:

      Yeah I mean she may be bigger than the average model, but it’s that pretty face of hers that got her the modeling gigs. If she had a double chin or rounder face, chubby cheeks, etc, would she have been hired? I doubt it.

    • LENA NOT DUNHAM says:

      agree with me,how an extremely beautiful woman not conform to beauty standard???
      she is extremely beautiful,she is more like,if you are exceptionally beautiful you can be accepted even if you are a little chubby/