The Real Problem with Calling Amy Schumer Plus-Size

Amy Schumer is not plus-size. 

But that didn’t stop Glamour magazine from featuring the actress and comedienne in their “plus-size” issue this week. The special edition, which was in collaboration with plus-size clothing line Lane Bryant, praised “women who inspire us,” like Melissa McCarthy, Adele, and Ashley Graham (who all range from sizes 14-18). 

Amy Schumer says she’s a size 6/8. So it’s no exaggeration to say she was not only surprised to see her name amongst those amazing women, but she was pissed. Responding on Instagram Tuesday, Schumer wrote:

I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8.@glamourmag put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamourous

The magazine likely had great intentions. Glamour editor-in-chief Cindy Leive even took to Twitter to defend the edition and clarify Schumer’s inclusion, saying: 

We love Amy Schumer, & would never want to offend her. To be clear, @glamourmag special edition never called her plus-size …

Her 2015 cover story was included in the edition, aimed at sizes 12 and up, its the coverlid “Women who Inspire Us” bc …

… her longtime message of body positivity — & talking back to body haters — IS inspiring. (To me, too!)

To be clear, size 6-8 is not plus. (Even size 12 — frequent size of “plus” models — is smaller than average American woman!) …

But women of all sizes can be inspired by one another’s words. So sorry if implication was otherwise, Amy.

The thing is, women of all sizes can be inspired by another’s positive words; but they can also be damaged by the implications made about and the labels placed upon their bodies, too. Negative, or otherwise.

For starters, Schumer is smaller than me. Well, maybe — I run on the 8/10 end of the spectrum. I’m large enough to wear a Large, never a Medium; my boobs sometimes dictate I size up to XL. My favorite pair of jeans are a 10, though I usually wear 8s with Spanx. I saw size 6 once. It happened for about two weeks after my second son was born. It required sucking in, shapewear, and breath-holding. I was so proud.

See, like most women in America, I’m insecure about my body. In tenth grade, I asked a boy if I needed to lose more weight. I weighed 100 lbs and threw up in the shower every night. The freshman 15 came in the form of fries and chicken nuggets, and I realized it when I sat down in the car to feel my belly tightly balloon over my jeans. I was, I knew then, fat. Until I had my first son, I wore a 4 — a 4! — and still thought I needed to lose a few pounds. I see pictures from that time and examine my jutting collarbones, my flat stomach. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed that body. I looked like the women in magazines, but that wasn’t good enough. I had to hit heroin chic.

But after my babies came, I settled down to the 8/10 range — even after the weight dropped off — mostly because of my belly (wrinkled, flabby with pregnancy), my boobs (swollen with nursing), and my back (padded with fat). I bought expensive shapewear to stop the muffin top, I loosened my bras to prevent back fat bumps. And since there wasn’t anything I could do about them, I bought some good bras and flaunted the 32HHs.

So yeah, the insinuation that Schumer is plus-sized hits me right in the gut. Because it means I’m plus-sized. And spout as much body positivity as you can, point to as much rubenesque beauty as you can find, but being designated “plus-sized” still carries with it a host of negative thoughts and emotions and stigmas; even in 2016. It means you can’t wear those cute clothes anymore; you’re condemned to the frumpy fat-girl section. Plus-sized carries a certain sensibility; a roundness, an excess that says you’ve given up. Plus-sized girls don’t exercise. Plus-sized girls don’t try. We eat cheese burgers, suck down cokes, and snarf an extra-large brownie sundae.

Of course, this isn’t true; but it’s what we keep telling ourselves. And perhaps therein lies the point — the whole message of Glamour’s issue: Beauty in size, health in size, lifting the stigma of size. Apparently, we still do need magazines like this because the message hasn’t trickled down to the average woman: She can see beauty in other women of size, but she can’t see it in herself. So we look to the media for answers, and when the media tells us that Schumer, a size 6 counts as plus-size, we freak out. We look at ourselves and feel shame.

When really, the problem doesn’t lie in whether or not Schumer is “plus-size” or not. The problem lies in our need to use a term to separate women from each other, in our “us vs. them” approach to beauty, and in our natural inclination to look at those around us and feel less than.

So sorry, Glamour, but you’re wrong. We aren’t plus-sized. We are normal.

Including Amy Schumer. 

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