Women often feel their bodies aren’t truly their own, constantly scrutinized with everyone from strangers to friends and family regulating how they should look.
For plus-size women, it’s especially difficult, as mass media tells them they aren’t as beautiful, healthy or vibrant as women with smaller statures. These assertions have very real implications on how this demographic feels about their own self-worth.
When it comes to fashion, plus-size women are often shamed the most.
The industry is intent on telling plus-size women what they should and should not wear. Many retailers subject these women to wear all black, or don’t carry plus-size clothes at all — as if saying the latest trends are not for them.
As a result, there’s an unspoken plus-size fashion rulebook that women have had to adhere to, minimizing their beautiful, full figures.
More than the obvious hate this perpetuates, notions that voluptuous women are anything less than sexy is just plain wrong.
We’ve compiled nine fashion rules plus-size women should completely break this summer. Practice body-positive activism through fashion — you can pull off these trends, too.
1. Wear shorts, no matter your thigh size.
Shorts are classic summer attire that fuller women are told to avoid. But you shouldn’t suffocate your legs in denim skinny jeans all summer long.
Bare your legs in a pretty pair of shorts, but do so with caution. “Chub rub,” or the unpleasant chafing caused by rubbing thighs, is a real problem for many women.
2. Exercise your right to bare arms.
Bare arms help make the sweltering summer somewhat bearable, but plus-size women are constantly told to keep their arms hidden to conceal any hint of fat.
Forget that rule and let your arms enjoy a bit of a breeze. In the heat of the summer, you definitely need it.
3. Don’t sweat your summer away in all-black everything.
The absence of color is supposed to have all plus-size girls captivated by its slimming properties. But dressing in all-black everything in the middle of August will have you keeling over with heatstroke if you aren’t careful.
Summer is all about bright colors that mimic the vibrancy of the season. You can give your wardrobe that extra pop, even if you are over a size 12.
4. The latest trends aren’t just for skinny ladies.
A bogus plus-size fashion rule is to always stick to the basics. Some people apparently believe your body is only safe with tried-and-true styles, meaning you should steer clear of any passing trends.
But trends aren’t only for runway models and the women who share their measurements. You can look flawless in sheer styles, gingham and even in all white this season.
5. Crop tops aren’t only made for thin women.
Having a flat stomach like Britney Spears circa her “I’m A Slave 4 U” days isn’t a requirement for wearing a crop top — you can show your belly, too. Ignore the summer fashion rule that says crop tops are off-limits.
6. Get loud with your prints.
Plus-size women are told to avoid patterns in order to appear slimmer, but banning patterns can make your wardrobe terribly bland. What’s summer (or any season) without a good pattern thrown in?
7. Don’t let clingy fabrics scare you.
Apparently, plus-size women should only wear ill-fitting black mumus 365 days a year.
If that sounds unappealing — and it probably should — don’t feel like you need to buy into this rule. If you’re into that form-fitting jersey dress, you should feel no shame in wearing it.
8. Rock that bikini on your ready-made beach bod.
Grab that bikini — or #Fatkini, if hashtag activism is more your speed.
Bikinis have always been reserved for those with flat stomachs and high confidence. But there’s no reason a confident plus-size woman can’t slay in the sand while wearing a two-piece. Fashion rules were meant to be broken, and beach fashion is no exception.
TL;DR: Wear whatever you want, no matter your size.