Big, Beautiful and Proud

Posted On: November 24, 2010

This article first appeared on the Good Vibrations Magazine.

Last Sunday on 14 November, a Singapore paper reported how eleven plus-sized women have put together a nude calendar to inspire other plus-sized women that their body shape does not signify the end of the world. This is a brave, encouraging and positive move by the women, by any standards.

However, if I were any of the women, I would have been highly offended by the lead (usually the first three paragraphs) into the news story: “The Health Promotion Board (HPB) is worried about the growing rate of obesity among Singaporeans. At the same time, a group of local women is celebrating – even promoting – their chubbiness with a nude calendar.”

A person is obese when he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. According to the latest National Health Survey last week, one out of every 10 Singaporeans (or 10.8 percent to be more specific) is obese. This is up from 6.9 percent in 2004.

It is only after eight paragraphs into the story that you hear Miss Erica Sim, who is behind the creation of the calendar saying that it is not trying to send the message that it is all right to be obese. Owner of the Big n Beautiful (B.A.B.) online shop that sells accessories and clothes ranging from size XL and 6XL, Sim was clear in saying that this was for those who remain obese even “after taking care of your diet, cutting down on junk food and sweet drinks, and also exercise”. See some of the pictures in the calendar here.

So are these calendar girls obese or plus-sized? They call themselves plus-sized. Yet the lead seems to suggest otherwise. The weight and height of each of the calendar girls interviewed was mentioned in the article. One wonders why. What I am concerned about as the reader is whether they are obese or indeed plus-sized. Either way, it is important for the journalist not to confuse the two, and unwittingly send a negative message when the story is a positive one.

People who are plus-sized are not necessarily lazy or ugly. Not all plus-sized people are shaped the way they are because they eat a lot and are not practicing a healthy lifestyle. Just like how beautiful people are not necessarily happier, nicer, more popular, more desired, or indeed more successful.

There is a fashion show with plus-sized models called The Military Mardi Gras Ball scheduled for Nov. 27. The calendar is now available for pre-order from the online shop and will be ready for collection on the day of the fashion show. I am not sure how B.A.B. will handle overseas inquiries or orders but I am certain all requests will be more than welcomed.

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