Following Rihanna’s red carpet appearance at the Hollywood premiere of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, one blogger by the name of Sandra Rose attempted to celebrate the singer’s newly gained weight by labeling her a “plus-size singer.” The gesture, however well intentioned, was met with backlash and ruffled many a feathers.
The blogger’s argument? “According to PLUS Model magazine,” she began, “plus size is defined as sizes 10-14; super-size is sizes 16 and up,” adding thereafter that “At 5-ft-9 and about 160 pounds, Rihanna fits the category of plus-size.” Who knew?
Aside from the fact that the same mag reported the majority of plus-size models on agency boards are between a size 6 and 14 – leaving room for just about anyone to make the cut – when have we (the black and brown collective) ever labeled our heavier set sistren as “plus size”? As one Instagram follower said in regards to the lazy, if not dangerous labeling of plus-size, “the streets know the truth.”
The term plus-size was coined by the fashion elitist (read: wypipo), and denotes “otherness” or not “normal.” It reeks of a select ideal of what it means to be a bigger woman in this world, an ideal Riri herself surely doesn’t identify with. Us melanated folk have often (from around the way) used terms like “thick”, “big-bodied” and even “curvy” to sing a stockier sister’s praise. Definitely not “plus size” as a term of endearment.
Question: do we go around calling Adele a plus-size singer? What about Beyoncé post twins? Jill Scott? Mary J. Blige circa mid ’80s? Present-day Mariah Carey? No need to mention we’ve never, as a society, bothered projecting these terms onto our male counterparts.
Born and raised in the island nation of Barbados, Rihanna’s body never adhered to the “slender, straight-line dresses and boyish figure ideals of the Roaring Twenties“, even prior to her subsequent luscious layer of thickness. She was and always will be a Caribbean goddess. Not to mention, many slim-thick shorty’s #bodygoal.