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Labeling Amy Schumer ‘plus size’ takes us two steps backward

As a woman who wears a size 8, I can relate to Amy Schumer’s recent beef with Glamour. Schumer called out the magazine for including her in an issue clearly targeted at “plus size” readers without letting her know, something the size 6-to-8 star said on Instagram just “doesn’t feel right” to her. And I couldn’t agree more.

More: Researchers blame plus size models for obesity

In the fashion industry, it seems like any woman bigger than a size 6 is considered plus size, which impacts how we view our own bodies and those of other women. Schumer questions what effect calling bodies like hers “plus size” will have on young girls — quite a negative one if you ask me.

Given that the average clothing size for an adult American woman is between a size 14 and 16, fashion magazines are basically marginalizing women with typical — and often healthy — body types by putting them in their own fringe category. And sure, Schumer may be plus size in the absurd world of the fashion industry, where the average international runway model’s body mass index is under 16 — a level that the World Health Organization actually uses as an indicator of starvation — but she’s bang on when she says that it just “doesn’t feel right.”

The debates about what is and is not considered a plus-sized body have caused a heavy backlash against the fashion industry, with some even demanding that we retire the term plus size completely. After all, why do plus-size models have to be in their own special category? Can’t they simply be models?

Models like Stefania Ferrario have been quite outspoken about how fraught they find the plus-size label: “Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size, and so I’m often labelled a ‘plus size’ model. I do NOT find this empowering,” Ferrario writes on Instagram.

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I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you're above a US size 4 you are considered plus size, and so I'm often labelled a 'plus size' model. I do NOT find this empowering. A couple of days ago, @ajayrochester called the industry to task for its use of the term 'plus size' by making the point that it is 'harmful' to call a model 'plus' and damaging for the minds of young girls. I fully support Ajay and agree with her. Let's have models of ALL shapes, sizes and ethnicities, and drop the misleading labels. I'm NOT proud to be called 'plus', but I AM proud to be called a 'model', that is my profession! Visit for full explanation of the dangers this label carries (especially on young impressionable girls). #droptheplus

A post shared by Stefania Ferrario (@stefania_model) on

It’s true — there’s nothing empowering about essentially broadcasting to women that if they want to be featured alongside “normal” model bodies in fashion magazines, they have to be thinner than models like Ferrario. Sadly, this whole debate over what is and isn’t plus size has become insulting to women, as though there’s some magic cut-off size where you suddenly become categorically different than “regular” women.

More: ‘Skinny’ and ‘plus size’ are not the only body types

Glamour responded to Schumer’s Instagram post with the following statement, pointing out that they never directly called Schumer plus sized: “The cover line on this special edition — which is aimed at women size 12 and up — simply says ‘Women Who Inspire Us,’ since we believe her passionate and vocal message of body positivity IS inspiring, as is the message of the many other women, of all sizes, featured,” they write. “The edition did not describe her as plus-size. We are sorry if we offended her in any way.”

That all being said, I think how Amy Schumer feels and what the cover looks like to the casual observer is what’s important here: Glancing at the cover, one can easily get the impression that Schumer has been categorized as “plus sized.”

 “I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size,” writes Schumer. “Beautiful healthy women.” But I’m starting to think we all might be better off if we just stuck to calling them that.

More: Plus size women to Victoria’s Secret: We’re here too!

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