Earlier this week, Glamour magazine published a special issue celebrating plus-size women. Supermodel and cover star Ashley Graham was psyched, calling it “a special issue dedicated to your curves!” and used the hashtag #beautybeyondsize. Actress Amy Schumer, however, wasn’t so thrilled to be included in a sub-headline that said “women who inspire us.”
Glamour “put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me,” Schumer wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamourous.” She also clarified, “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.”
Schumer’s words struck a chord as she asked her Twitter followers for their thoughts, a brave tactic in the cesspool that is social media. She got hundreds of responses, including actress Carrie Brownstein (“I find ‘special editions’ problematic in general, or at least specious, in that they frame the content as ‘other.'”), writer Roxane Gay (“You aren’t plus sized but your vehement reaction to being labeled as such is pretty insulting.”) and reporter Kathryn Williams (“‘plus size’ is just another way of splitting us into uniformed groups, putting a label on people’s appearance.”)
Schumer joins a growing chorus of celebrities decrying the “plus size” label, including Melissa McCarthy and Meghan Trainor, and others asking what the term even means. Last spring, the Wall Street Journal reported that a social media campaign called #DropthePlus was gaining steam after Australian “Biggest Loser” host Ajay Rochester spoke up on Instagram, stating that the idea of plus size was “so ridiculous and harmful” and “not empowering.”
The paper traced the history of the phrase, which “dates back to the marketing of women’s apparel in the flapper era of the 1920s.” Lane Bryant (the company that coincidentally partnered with Glamour for this special issue) became the first store to use the term, the Wall Street Journal reported, advertising “Misses Plus Sizes” in 1922. Before then, the word “stout” was commonly used to describe women who had a “matronly appearance with generous bust, back and hip curves that did not fit with the fashionable figure.” Eventually, the paper said, the idea of plus size made its way to the modeling world in 1978, with the first plus-size modeling agency.
Anyway, the back and forth between Schumer and her fans accomplished exactly what Glamour was hoping for with the special edition of its magazine: attention. Regardless of her reaction, it’s still a win for the magazine.
While perhaps it would have liked a more excited response, more people are aware of the issue now than before, because nothing makes news more than a celebrity being upset about something. Even though Schumer’s tone was perfectly reasonable, headlines refer to her “slamming” or “sparring” with the magazine, words that are much more likely to get clicks.
And it all seemed to end up just fine. A few hours later, Schumer settled the issue by posting a video of herself flying a kite in a bikini and concluding, “Bottom line seems to be we are done with these unnecessary labels which seem to be reserved for women.”