One of my favorite quotes is, “Well behaved women seldom make history” a phrase that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich coined in 1976. Well a few days ago while searching the internet, I found a photo with a phrase that really spoke to me in just as great a manner as “well behaved women seldom make history.” The phrase which was accompanied by a photo stated, ” The greatest crime of a fat woman is that she dares to take up space.” Upon reading it, I was taken to many different places and it made me think of many women.
History tells us that women are intended to be seen and not heard. We should not have a presence that is too anything. Women have always been expected to shrink ourselves and conform to society’s standards. Although times have changed and the roles of women have become greater, this ignorant belief still haunts our gender, especially plus size women.
Plus size women make up over half of the overall female population. Although the plus size industry contribute billions of dollars to our economy, we are still over looked and treated like second class citizens. Based on society’s beauty standards we are the ugly ducklings and are expected to tuck our tails and hide in a corner. While we embraced this as our truth for many years, more and more plus size women are aborting those ideas and giving birth to greatness. We are no longer willing to simply take what is given to us. We love and celebrate all that makes us who we are, and says to hell with society and its beauty standards.
When I read the statement, “the greatest crime of a fat woman is that she dares to take up space,” I thought of bold plus size women who have made a mark not just on the plus-size industry but the world. Women who not only dare to take up space but women who make room for other women in the same image. Women like Gwen Devoe (creator and executive producer of Full Figured Fashion Week), Tess Holliday (First size 22 model to be signed to an agency and blogger), Pam Chatman (Mississippi’s first black woman new director), Gabourey Sidebe ( Actress) and Ashley Graham (first plus model to be featured in Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue). Like most of us, these women have experienced the insults and down talk that is all too familiar. They were discouraged by naysayers and placed in that box, but they didn’t stay they. They made the choice to make noise, step out of that box and do just what they wanted to do not what they were told they could do.
The emergence of the new bold and confident plus size woman is long over due. No longer are we afraid to go against the grain. We are comfortable with misbehaving and could care less about being liked because we know that being respected is where it is at. We reject the thought that we have to accept society’s beauty standards. We know that we are more than just pretty faces, we have bodies that we love and a wealth of knowledge that we put to use. We have stepped out of the box and are taking up as much space as we see fit; making history and kicking ass and taking names.
Although it seems as though we have arrived, there is still much work to be done. During an interview, Sharon Quinn and Gwen Devoe stated that, “this industry is a huge pie and there is enough for everyone.” My question is, who among us will be next? Who will be confident and assertive enough to make history and take up space that society says we don’t deserve to occupy. DO YOU DARE?