So, I don’t want to make this into an essay but I have to talk about this. We’ve all probably heard the word “thick” being used to describe curvy women and the term has taken on amelioration over the years.
Remember when being told “you have a big behind” was the worst thing you could hear, then fast forward 10 years and it’s not only one of the best compliments you could receive, but even desirable.
The shift in meaning of being ‘thick’ is on the whole progressive as all shapes and sizes are becoming glorified. However, to someone like me who was nastily told that I had a big backside when I wore jeans at a young age, the change in meaning seems ironic. The same people who made me feel as though I couldn’t wear jeans or trousers without exposing myself for so long are now the same people desiring exaggerated curves.
When I went to Rome last summer, I received so much criticism for dressing for the intense heat. When I finally got the confidence to wear a playsuit and an above-the-knee skirt without tights, I got unwanted attention to the point where a man followed me with my family around Rome the whole day, just staring at my legs even when we all stared back at him. I didn’t dress for this type of attention, I dressed for the scorching heat that week. Rome is a Catholic city but it had nothing to do with the inappropriateness of showing shoulders or legs as it would be if you were in the Vatican, or a basilica. I had passed other tourists wearing shorts and not attracting any type of odd attention simply because their legs were slimmer. It became known to me that the problem of being a ‘thick’ girl is that we can’t just dress for hot weather in the same way that others can because summer clothes seem to be more prominent on thicker thighs.
My mother has even told me not to show legs or thighs, as her mother told her to. Women have to wear a chitenge (garment wrapped around your waist to cover your hips and legs; also, used as a baby sling) where we’re from. This was based on the notion that men stare at women’s legs and it encourages temptation. Apart from respectful reasons in the presence of fathers, women shouldn’t have to be restricted in what we wear and suffer discomfort in hot weather.
Celebrities such as the Kardashians, Beyoncé, Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Lopez have helped develop an appreciation of curves, including wide hips and the glorified hourglass figure. Even Jennifer Lopez faced the previous negativity of being ‘thick’.
Lopez told MTV News: “Before we were just considered heavy. Like we weren’t ‘in shape’ or whatever if you had a big butt or something. So now, it’s kind of nice that people are embracing womanly curves in that way”.
She recalled her experience “years ago when I came out to L.A. to act and sing and dance…I was considered heavy. My thighs were too big, my butt was too big, I had a small waist, I wasn’t like everybody else and I knew that.”
Now curvy shapes are being celebrated with the inclusion of plus-size models on catwalks and advertisements. Models such as Ashley Graham have made names for themselves with their beautiful larger figures that broaden ideas of the standard fashion model shape.
Two Instagram models, Barbie Ferreira (Instagram: barbienox) and Diana Veras (IG: mynamesdiana), have also gained a major following as they represent the beauty of thickness and curves. Both have modelled and featured in the likes of i-D magazine.
So, although being curvy seems to be the new ‘thick’ avant-garde, we should consider the hidden discrepancies that come with this and that for all shapes and sizes.
(Image sources: Own / Tumblr / Pinterest)