24 March 2023

Six plus-sized women on the failures of activewear: “I’m fat, I’m sexy and I’m not going to apologise for that”

There is a long way to go before the activewear industry can label itself inclusive, and, here, plus-sized women are speaking out on what needs to change.

You may be under the impression that the fashion industry is moving forward with designs catering to all shapes and sizes — and in some ways, it is, and in others, not so much. With non-inclusive sizing, limited colourways, and a lack of representation when it comes to shape, many plus-sized women still think that bigger bodies are an afterthought for brands.

However, it’s not all facades and false advertisements in the industry, as ethically produced activewear brand TALA is on a mission to combat this stigma. Carrying sizes from 2XS to 4XL, TALA interviewed six women to discuss how activewear is failing women with bigger bodies. Here, they share their thoughts on what can be done to ensure an inclusive and representative industry…

 “A lot of gym wear, underwear, and fashion brands do this thing with their marketing where plus-size women are linked to the term ‘body positivity’ and look all smiley in the photos when actually it’s like ‘I’m fat, and I’m sexy’, and I’m not going to apologise for that. When you’re shopping online, you’ll also often see a straight-size model as the first model on a website, and it’s like, ‘why are they first, and why am I second’ also, why do I have to spend more time online to find the women who look more like me.” – Pearl, 23.

“I want to be able to go on a website like everyone else, pick something I like, find my size, and buy it like everyone else and not feel ‘othered’ or ‘separated’ or have to investigate to find it.” – Chika, 24.

“Most of the time, an activewear brand will have new ‘drops’, but I can’t click and buy because they don’t have my size. I always find that when I shop for activewear, they don’t take into account the parts of me that are bigger than somebody who is a size 12. The proportions are really different, and just because a brand can make a bra in a 3XL, it doesn’t mean my boobs are going to look great in it if they haven’t considered the different proportions. To be able to have the same leggings or sports bras as my friends who are completely different sizes and shapes – that’s confidence boosting to me. That’s society saying to me, ‘you’re accepted,’ which women with bigger bodies don’t get often.” – Harriet, 25.

“From my experience working and shopping with a lot of brands, you almost feel like an afterthought or an inconvenience when ranges don’t offer full colourways or styles for plus size, and once again, you have to settle for something you don’t actually want. A brand can’t say it has a full range unless the product and marketing actually reflect society accurately. It’s not a full range if you don’t cater to everyone.” – Shannon, 27.

“For larger women, the main social standard is that ‘you’re plus-size, so you go to the gym to lose weight’. Wrong. I love going to the gym to get strong, but you always get unsolicited comments and advice from other people telling you about what they do to lose weight. People and brands need to change their mindset that plus-size women go to the gym to lose weight. We go there to feel confident and fit as f**k!” – Louisa, 33.

“When I look at ‘curve’ models, half of them still have a flat stomach. It’s not representative of me. My hip area is where I carry, so immediately, that’s what I look at when I’m shopping. So as soon as I see a model with a flat stomach, I think I’m not going to get an item because it’s not going to look like that on me. Brands need to show plus-size women with lots of different shapes. Half the time, the colours brands are not offering in plus size is the colour I actually want. It happens all the time.” – Emma, 27. 

  • Writer Ella Chadwick
  • Banner Image Credit TALA's Skinluxe range

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