Here's Why This Lingerie Brand's Body-Positive Sizing Is Kind of BS

neon moon bra
neonmoonco/instagram
Body positivity has had an intense year. With its roots planted in fat activism -- a movement that sought to eradicate the mistreatment of fat people based on their size -- it has grown into less of a space for marginalized people and more of a profitable Instagram trend. And just like they have been making money off our insecurities for years, brands are chomping at the bit to cash in on this too. 

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And I know what you're thinking: "Body positivity is for everyone!" "We should be happy brands want to cater to us!" And in a number of ways, you're right. All people do have the inalienable right to love themselves, and, yes, we do need a range of products to fit our needs -- but by misrepresenting these spaces and venues for gross profit, we're losing sight of the end goal. 

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Take, for instance, body-positive brand Neon Moon. Recently, it ditched its traditional sizing and instead replaced the numbers with compliments.

neon moon sizing chart
Neon Moon

US sizes 2–4 are now known as size "Lovely," while its 18–20 (the largest it goes, by the way) are known as size "Stunning." The intent, the company claims, is to replace numbers with confidence, to remove this idea that our worth is tied to a number. Neon Moon encourages customers to use its revised measuring tape, and if measuring oneself is too triggering, it implores customers to reach out to it. It checks its boxes, and in no way do I doubt that the Neon Moon folks' intentions are pure and at their core they truly believe they are doing good.

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To be fair, Neon Moon isn't the only one to promote the idea of blanket inclusivity. Plenty of models like Ashley Graham want to "drop the plus" entirely, and call for retailers to integrate plus-size options into straight sizes by removing sections.

ashley graham selfie
theashleygraham/Instagram

But good intentions aside, by removing numbers and eradicating all implications of differences, the company is in a way contributing to the erasure of plus-size women -- which negates the entire foundation of the bopo platform.

neon moon ad
neonmoonco/Instagram

Virgie Tovar, activist and author, explains in Ravishly that by treating plus-size fashion the same exact way as straight (i.e., just offering the same thing in all sizes without considering the actual differences variously sized bodies have), manufacturers aren't considering the unique fashion assets fat bodies have.

"We need to recognize that we are allowed to accentuate the differences among bodies, rather than mute them. We need to recognize that when you have a belly or big arms or big hips, then fabric sits differently and that difference is amazing. We need to recognize that body diversity — including the diverse ways that bodies look in clothing — is something worth celebrating." 

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The truth is we should be pushing media to stop enforcing the idea that numbers, be they on a scale or a tag, have a contextual meaning behind them.  

Writer and activist Marie Southard Ospina told CafeMom it's a pretty simple concept: 

"The reality is that we live in a world in which clothing sizes as well as general body size are assigned a whole heap of problematic connotations, from morality to success to failure to assumptions about the lifestyle of the wearer. In truth, clothing size is just that. A completely arbitrary number; an amount of fabric and thread."

neon moon ad
neonmoonco/instagram

While the plights of these marginalized groups are inarguably different, the best comparison I can make is to those who claim to "not see color." The well-intentioned notion that you see everyone equally really implies that you aren't seeing the struggles a person of color deals with daily. By not seeing them, you are pretending their problems don't exist, which leads to their needs in society going unserviced, and takes us back to square one. It's the same with plus-size people.

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That isn't to say this kind of sizing is utterly worthless. For folks who are living with or in recovery from eating disorders, taking the social pressure off the sizing can be a blessing. 

But overall, just because plus-size fashion falls out of the norm doesn't give retailers an excuse to not cater to these people's needs. In order to do that, they need to understand their client base -- not service them ineffectually or erase them by not acknowledging them.

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