Last week I attended a panel discussion on “the state of the curvy community”, at Full Figured Fashion Week in New York. The panel discussion, which involved a lot of audience participation, raised many interesting questions for me. Having worked in the “plus size” industry now for several years, I found the fledgling event (only in it’s second year) promising. The panelists ranged from plus size designers to comedians and bloggers/ performance artists and even a fabulously eloquent curvy life coach.
To give you a little background information, I recently picked up on this event through plus size model Emme. I was lucky enough to get in touch with this plus fashion icon through a mutual acquaintance in order to discuss this very topic, body Image and the curvy community. We chatted for a bit when she mentioned the event, I knew instantly I had to make time to attend.
The overreaching topic that came up again and again throughout the night was the war raging between self-acceptance and the diet culture that we live in today. On one side is women who feel they have worked hard to gain confidence and self-awareness; on the other is a movement against the trend towards obesity in our country.
Blogger after blogger stood up and recounted the negative feedback they have had from either side, a nasty battle of wills pushing from both perspectives. Some angry readers feel that promoting curvy fashion, praising plus models, and celebrating self-acceptance at any size, condones and even promotes an unhealthy lifestyle. In stark contrast are women in the curvy community who see betrayal in plus role models who choose to work with trainers and promote healthy eating.
My opinion and I think the ultimate consensus of the panel is this. Weight is not the issue. The issue instead is a balance of mental and physical health; this may lie in different places for different people. After all we only have one life to live and it is ours to do with as we please. Punishing women by not supplying fashionable and flattering clothing will not lead to a healthier lifestyle. Conversely seeing the pursuit of health as betrayal is no better.
In short, here are my key takeaways from this thought-provoking and empowering event:
- Live in the now.
- Always try to accept yourself for who you are today.
- A diet will not fix your life.
- Health is not about a size it is about choices.
- What you see is not always what is there.