As a bigger girl, I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me, “You’re so brave!” when commenting on the fact that I wore a bathing suit, or shorts, or a tank top – for that matter – out in public. I’m one of those “big girls” who isn’t ashamed to wear a bikini – fatkini, high-waisted, etc. And, it never fails that every time I do, I have someone comment that they wish they had my bravery or how brave I was for daring to step out in something that showed a small, tiny, minuscule amount of my stomach. We’re talking maybe an inch of skin, but I digress.
And that really made me stop and think. Do these people actually think it’s brave to wear something like that? So, I started scoping out plus size fashion bloggers. Instagram models, Ashley Graham, Lane Bryant swimsuit prints. And, it never failed that their comment section was filled with people spouting off about bravery.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think anyone truly thinks they are being negative when they say this. If anything, I think they say it as a compliment. But, let’s get into why we feel a need to say it in the first place.
Being Plus Size isn’t Being Brave
In today’s world of body positivity, it’s become common to see women of almost all (and I say almost) shapes, sizes, heights, skin colors, etc. represented at least somewhere. Heck, just search for #effyourbeautystandards on Instagram, and you’ll be flooded with images of women loving themselves and their bodies. But, that doesn’t mean it gets any easier. For this blog, we are focusing on being plus size because frankly, it’s what I have the most experience with, but you can pretty much guarantee this is common across most bodies.
Being plus size isn’t being brave. It’s also not bravery to wear clothes that everyone else on the planet gets to wear without someone commenting on it. Bravery is running into a burning building to save a cat on the second floor. Not wearing shorts. Bravery is risking your life to save another. Not enjoying the beach in a bathing suit.
People think it’s brave when someone who has a different than standard body type wears something they think is only suited for the average. It’s brave for a plus size woman to wear short shorts. Or, a bathing suit. Or, a form fitted dress. But, would they say the same to a smaller or average sized woman? Would they walk up to a thin, picture-perfect woman and say, “You’re so brave for wearing that dress!” I can answer that for you, it’s a no. So, why do we feel the need to say that to the other side of the spectrum.
For many people, they do think it’s brave for someone to wear what society deems is inappropriate for their body shape. This hearkens back to those “dress for your shape” reality TV shows where all the plus size women were put in boxy, A-line dresses. Newsflash, we aren’t on a 2003 TLC makeover show anymore. You can wear what you want and it’s okay. I promise.
This is one of those moments where instead of telling her she’s just pretty, you should tell her she’s pretty smart, or pretty important, or pretty special.
Here are a few other things you can say instead of telling her “she’s brave:”
- Wow! That color looks great on you!
- That swimsuit is adorable. Where did you get it?
- You look like you’re having a great time!
- Those pants are so flattering!
- I have a pair of shorts just like that at home!
But, if she is running into a burning building to save a cat on the second floor, by all means yell from the rooftops how brave she is.