How Amy Schumer's Stance on "Plus Size" Is Changing the Way We Talk About Women
Amy Schumer recently posted an Instagram response to an interview she gave to Glamour in August 2015 that was recently republished in a special issue of the magazine titled "Chic at Any Size" without her knowledge. The issue, which, according to Glamour in a statement released this afternoon, is "aimed at women size 12 and up," angered Schumer, who believed it insinuated that she was plus size. "I think there's nothing wrong with being plus size," Schumer said in her Instagram caption. "Beautiful healthy women." But, she continued, "plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8."
It is worth noting that the special issue in question, which does not use the term plus size in regards to Schumer, also features quotes about body acceptance from actresses Nicole Richie, Tracee Ellis Ross, Portia de Rossi, Beth Ditto, Liv Tyler, Lena Dunham, and Aisha Tyler—celebrities who vary greatly from one another in their height, weight, and shape. In its statement, Glamour said it included Schumer in the issue not because of her dress size, but because “we believe her passionate and vocal message of body positivity IS inspiring, as is the message of the many other women, of all sizes, featured.”
Indeed, the subject of body image is something the comedian and actress has made a habit of addressing head-on, taking control of a conversation that has been used to value her in the past. Her public appearances and Inside Amy Schumer sketches often jest at the insane pressure put on women to look a certain way in Hollywood — where, she joked on Ellen, "my arms register as legs" — and in culture at large. Sketches like "Last F**kable Day," "Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup," "Celebrity Interview," and "Focus Group" go viral because as absurd as the dialogue and scenarios may become, they strike a chord with her ever-growing feminist audience, who feel liberated by Schumer’s deft ability to poke holes in archaic ways of thinking.
If Schumer is remarkably frank about her body, making jokes about UTIs and, in an acceptance speech at last June’s Glamour Awards, sharing her exact weight — 160 pounds — it is because she has personally experienced criticism aimed at cutting her down for those very things. "I can be reduced . . . so quickly sometimes, I want to quit," she said in a speech at the 2014 Gloria Awards and Gala. "Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, 'All right! You got it. You figured me out. . . . All my self-worth is based on what you can see.’ But then I think, Fuck that."
It's a self-empowered message that has found its footing in a growing conversation about body image. Over the past few years, a new generation of young women including Zendaya, Lorde, and Dunham have taken a stand against the retouching of their photographs, while models and celebrities from Gigi Hadid to Daisy Ridley have spoken out about body shaming. Following their lead perhaps, the fashion world has also been exploring a broader definition of beauty — even questioning the necessity of the "plus size" label.
It all raises the question: In a world in which model Ashley Graham covers the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue at a fit and healthy size 14, and the most recent Pirelli Calendar includes fully clothed portraits of trailblazing women (whose accomplishments are heralded as the sexiest thing about them) alongside voluptuous nudes, should the size and weight of Schumer, who was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People, was chosen as People magazine's Most Intriguing Person of 2015, and who grossed $139.5 million on her first-ever feature film (which she both wrote and starred in), even be part of the conversation? To quote the comedian's own words from her "Saturday Night Live" monologue: "We have to be a role model to these little girls. Because who do they have?" Now they have Amy.
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