Today’s columnist, Jess Peace - Size, does it really matter?

Almost three weeks since the Jamelia fiasco and my news feed is still clogged with posts about body image and ‘fat-shaming’.

For those of you who haven’t seen or heard what happened on Loose Women, I’ll clue you in.

The show features four women, usually from an entertainment background, who discuss hot topics from a female’s POV. One of the more recent discussions being: whether or not the high street was ‘normalising’ obesity by selling plus-sized clothes.

Jamelia Davis, one of four panellists, said: “I don’t think it’s right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle.”

And she said that the high street shouldn’t cater for those under a size 6 or over a size 20, saying that there should be ‘specialist shops’ instead.

Naturally, ladies of all shapes and sizes took to social media to express their opinions.

Just weeks earlier, a bikini picture uploaded to Facebook went viral – and for all the right reasons.

Rachel Hollis was on holiday with her family when the photo was taken.

She then uploaded it with an innocent caption about her ‘flabby belly’.

“I wear a bikini because I’m proud of this body and every mark on it. Those marks prove that I was blessed enough to carry my babies.”

She went on to encourage other women to flaunt their bodies, imperfections and all, by adding: “They aren’t scars, they’re stripes and you’ve earned them.”

The photo racked up more than 300,000 likes and, more importantly, it spoke to women everywhere. What seemed like a giant step forward for feminism was flattened by Jamelia’s comments.

The way we look at body image is changing, but admittedly it’s a slow change. Loose Women’s main argument was that we shouldn’t be encouraging or normalising obesity.

If a retailer stocks a particular dress in a size 20, is it encouraging young girls to become that size? I doubt it. It’s ridiculous to consider banning plus-sized clothes from the high street and limiting their retail to just ‘specialist shops’. If anything, that alienates the petite and body-shames the plus-sized.

It goes without saying that if you can’t find your size in a shop, you usually walk away a little miffed. But you don’t consciously decide to put on weight (or lose it for that matter) to accommodate fashion. We have far more credibility than that.

I’m not saying that we should turn a blind eye to people genuinely living an unhealthy lifestyle. Those who are at a size – too small or too large – that it affects the way they live day to day. But we should be more careful when we determine what’s unhealthy.

Women are often criticised for never being entirely happy with their bodies, slim women, curvy women, short women and tall women included. But not everybody is unhappy with the way they look. Some of the most body-confident people I know are curvy ladies!

The only person who should care what your body looks like, is you. What does it matter, as long as you are happy, healthy and your weight doesn’t stop you from doing the things that you want to?

We each have the right to say what we think. But as the saying goes; if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

* Jess Peace, Journalism Student

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