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FEATURES Dec 4 2012 10:23PM

Curvy, Thick & Juicy: What Do the Names for Body Types Really Mean?

By Danielle Gray, www.thestyleandbeautydoctor.com
All my life I’ve been tall and somewhat slim and a little busty. Then after high school my hips started to really show out, but for the most part I’d say I was still relatively slim. I’ve been plus or minus the same 20-25 pounds since college, almost 10 years ago, but I’ve never been above a size 12—even with vanity sizing. At my smallest I was a 6, loose 8. But lately I’ve noticed—and this could be because the company I’m around now are people who didn’t know the slimmer me from two years ago—that I’ve been categorized in the curvy set. And this doesn’t bother me at all because, um, have you seen my thighs and hips? But it does confuse me, though, since with the popularity of fashion blogs, body confident ladies of what I would call the plus-size community are coining the term “curvy.” NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT (so don’t send me any hate mail…lol). It’s just that I’m confused. Where do I stand now? Do I really even need to stand anywhere? I wasn’t so caught up with my body category until it felt like people were trying to put me in one. Like the time when someone called me “full-figured,” a term I thought meant plus-size. What exactly does all this mean?

To try and get some answers, I went to the source—fashion bloggers of varying sizes and shapes to get their take on this whole body-typing thing. 

Trina Small, mommy of 2-year-old Peyton and blogger of The Baby Shopaholic who lives in Atlanta said this when I asked her how about typing her own body, “I would describe my body as a ‘Thoroughbred!’ I have track legs/ cheerleader legs, strong (or big) back and arms. I think they all balance each other. I hate when people say ‘Big Boneded!’ LOL!  Who has big bones?” 

I’d have to agree—I always thought the big-bones thing was pretty weird growing up…lol.

Eboni Ife, the California native and Atlanta transplant behind the blog The Fashionista Next Door was a little more vocal. “Weight, body image, and body type—all loaded terms. How do you define them? Honestly, I think there is merit in women defining these terms for themselves rather than letting society define them. On the other hand, I think we are sometimes unrealistic with ourselves about how these things are directly related to our health. I agree 100% with the concept of loving your body no matter what size you are. You've only got one body type, so LOVE IT whether you're full-figured, curvy, athletic or slender! But I think it's important that we be honest with ourselves about what that our body type really is, so we can take steps to eat and exercise to be the healthiest person possible regardless of weight or size.  Sometimes the euphemisms we use to describe ourselves are just not accurate...they make us feel better about ourselves, but they don't necessarily serve to motivate us to develop healthy habits. Personally, I have a muscular build, so I generally look smaller than I really am. And people usually categorize me as slim, and I guess if you didn't know any better you might assume that I am ‘in shape,’ but the truth is I AM NOT in the best shape that I could be. I don't work out nearly as much as I should, and regardless of my positive body image, I know that I am overweight. This is something that I have to be honest with myself about regardless of how I appear on the outside.”

Eboni definitely has a point about us using euphemisms to make ourselves feel better about our size. Could I be guilty of this myself though? I mean, again, (and do NOT send me hate mail…lol) I have nothing against being plus-size—it’s just that I myself am not plus-size and since words like “curvy” are being used to define women size 14 and up, where does that leave me?

Jessica Andrews of New York City, fashion writer and co-creator of The Glamazons Blog has a similar sentiment about the term “curvy” although she and I are of different sizes.

“Curvy is a complicated term since, by definition, it refers to shape rather than size. It's often interchanged with phrases like plus-size and full-figured, and I find that inherently problematic. There are petite women with curves for days, and plus-size women with more boy-shaped figures. 
There's something empowering about embracing your God-given curves and not succumbing to pressure to be thin. I believe that's why the ‘Real Women Have Curves’ movement gained momentum, and why the term curvy became synonymous with plus-size women who boldly embrace their lady lumps. But what about the women who flaunt an hourglass shape at a size 4 or 6? Are they curvy, too? The terminology can be confusing and limiting.
I have been in the size 2-4 range my whole life but am recently loving my hip to waist ratio and the fact that my butt pokes out a bit in my pencil skirts and pants. I don't refer to myself as ‘curvy,’ but I like to think my shape is worth celebrating too, however petite.”

And she’s right! Curvy by definition refers to body shape rather than size.

Blake Gifford, a Tulane University law student and blogger at BlakeVonD.com also chimed in on this topic. “I think that no matter how a person chooses to describe their body type that we should all be realistic about what exactly that description means. As African American women, we should be especially conscious of that. We are naturally curvy women, but it's important that we not use our predisposition for hips and thighs as an excuse to be unhealthy. That being said, it's equally as important on the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm naturally very slim, but as I've matured I've started to really focus on being healthy and eating right, in spite of my size.”

I wanted to get one more opinion, so of course I went to current PR and former magazine editor Christina Brown of LoveBrownSugar.com to get her point of view. “I'd describe myself as ‘curvy’ and ‘plus size.’ And I'm totally fine with people describing me as such. I'm a size 12/14 (size 10 on a good day), so I'm right at the cusp of straight-size and plus. I'm pretty comfortable with what most people use to describe my shape. I never really liked the word ‘thick’—it reminds me of peanut butter. I also don't like ‘round.’ I'm not a basketball. But other than that, I don't really allow other people's labels to define me.”

I have to agree—round is such a poor descriptive term for a woman. And we should all take something from Christina’s last sentence, “I don’t really allow other people’s labels to define me.” I can totally get with that.

As for me, I’ll continue to call myself tall and curvy because truth be told, when I lose the 25 pounds I gained over the last two years of being a freelancer, I’ll still be tall and curvy…lol.

How do you feel about body types? Tell me in the comments!



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