Since this is an outfit that I feel good about myself in, I think it makes sense to use as a backdrop for something serious. Last week, I wrote about the time I wore a swimsuit. It was difficult for me to do, as I suspect it would be for most women, and I went into it knowing full well that Internet trolls exist for this very reason. However, I never once thought it would become the time I was called plus sized by the company who sent me the swimsuit.
The day after I put up the post, the company shared it on their social media. This normally would have been great, except that they titled a Facebook album with my post "Curvy Girl" and hashtagged all of the posts with #plussizefashion. There are a few things wrong with this. First, it was never discussed that this was how my photos were going to be used. Second, I know that I'm not plus sized, and I have never advertised myself as such on my blog. When I first saw the posts, I immediately felt a combination of hurt and embarrassed -- things I try my best to avoid. I pride myself on having a healthy body image; I know that I'm not stick thin, and I love the fact that I have curves. I do know that I'm not plus sized though. Like any human would, however, I couldn't help but see myself labeled that way and wonder, "wait, am I plus sized? Is this how other people see me?" And that's a shitty feeling to have. I spent so much time worrying about just wearing the swimsuit and then even more time worrying about putting up the photos. When everyone around me responded with such overwhelming support after I shared the post, it was easy to feel good about myself. So when all of that came crashing down with one silly hashtag, it felt like experiencing whiplash. It was as if all of that hard work toward positive body image was for nothing, and that's not okay.
After those brief awful moments of self doubt were over, they were quickly replaced with anger. I am a size medium. I ordered a size 36C top and a size 10 bottoms because I figured I should go up a size to be safe. Hell, the dress I'm wearing in these photos is a size medium, and I am almost always a size 8. Yet this company decided that this size was an okay standard for plus size. That alone is not only unfair to me, but it's unfair to girls who actually do consider themselves to be plus sized. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a larger size, and if I thought I were, I would completely own that. However, I'm not, and I don't think women who are would appreciate that label being used so carelessly. All of this isn't even to mention the fact that a man would never deal with being labeled as "curvy" or plus sized.
More than anything, though, I was angry at the lack of discussion in how my photos were used. The company never once approached me to say they wanted to use my photos to promote plus sized fashion. I fully understand that whoever used my photos this way had no intention if hurting me. As a company that primarily features tiny size 2 girls (others of whom they chose the much more flattering tag of #sexy), I get they wanted to promote that their product works on different body types. But since they never told me that was the goal, I can't help but feel exploited and used as a tool for likes. I'm fine with being labeled as curvy; I label myself that way. But when other bloggers are featured in a Facebook album called "lovely clients and bloggers," while my photos are put in a separate album labeled "Curvy Girl," it's hard not to feel like "curvy" isn't being used in the best sense of the word. It made me feel like the only reason they wanted to work with my blog was for my size, not for my content. My point is this: there's nothing wrong with any kind of body type or label, but I at least have the right to choose which label I want to give myself rather than have it chosen for me.
Since the posts went up, I've contacted the company and they've changed the album title and deleted the hashtags. For most of the first day, I was worried that I was being too sensitive and taking the label to hard. After talking to almost everyone I know (friends, family, my boyfriend, coworkers, other bloggers, you name it), and getting the same exact response from everyone, I decided that I had a right to be upset and express this to them. The woman I spoke gave me her sincere apologies and made sure the posts were corrected, which I greatly appreciate. I mostly sent the email in hopes that it would protect other bloggers they work with from going through the same thing I did.
Dress: Fleet Collection
Sunglasses: c/o Zero UV