Pleasantly Plump: The Emaciation of Our Self-Esteem

The title of this post is too high-flown for what I actually wrote. I just really wanted to write "The Emaciation of our Self-Esteem".

Chubby cheeks. Chubby Checker. Chubby hubby. Chubby is a pleasant word. The blog 22 Words has some interesting pictures from a day when companies thought it a good idea to market to "chubbies" instead of "plus sizes" or, heaven forbid, "women's".

As a man of extraordinary height, I have reason to despise the Body Mass Index, the primary measure used by the state and insurance companies to report on obesity in the population. Nonetheless, there can be no question that obesity rates have flown through the roof in the past few decades.

As more and more of us become overweight through what is, honestly, vice (a vice no more pernicious than Chris Traeger levels of concern with fitness), we change the language to pretend the problem isn't there.

The shift to "plus size" was bad enough, but making "women's" the code for "bigger clothes" moves straight into wicked. Because, of course, as with "everyone's a winner" self-esteem programs in athletics or school, the artificiality of the process has the opposite effect to the one intended.

While you shop in the "women's" section, smaller women shop in "misses". And your teenage daughter knows that she never, ever, ever wants to fall out of misses into women's. Because then she'd be fat.

I can't help but think it would have been better for her to have been "chubby".


  1. [...] recently did a post on the disappearance of the word “plump” as a positive descriptor, inspired by some ads [...]


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