The average dress size for a woman in the UK is a 16.
So it’s perhaps no surprise some people are criticising online fashion retailer In The Style’s choice of Chessie King, a size 12 social media influencer, to front their latest body positivity campaign.
King has inspired fans on social media with her unedited pictures and candid posts, which celebrate her “fat rolls”.
But can someone two sizes smaller than the average UK size – who regularly poses in crop tops and leggings and many would term as “slim” – be an icon for body positivity, a movement which promotes confidence and positive body image, no matter what size or shape you are?
That’s the question people are debating on social media, in response to the launch of InTheStyle’s “Chessie King X In The Style” line today.
It’s “absurd” to have a “thin person” promoting body confidence, argued plus size author Bethany Rutter, while others backed her up on Twitter.
This is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen lol a range themed around a thin person promoting ‘body confidence’ like yes I would imagine you are confident about your body ??? And what ??? pic.twitter.com/JeHdmJ0GgH— Bethany (@bethanyrutter) July 16, 2019
this is the most empty appeal to 'REALNESS' i have seen in my entire life— Moll (@socialrepro) July 16, 2019
Oh this is grim. Prime example of a company trying to exploit body positivity without understanding it or investing in it.— Bethan Taylor (@aprettyplace) July 16, 2019
Body positivity isn’t for thin people! We don’t fucking need it! We are not marginalised by society at large because of our size no matter how sad or weird we feel about our bodies. Going up to a size 22 is not inclusive! Christ!— Megg. (@meggywitch) July 16, 2019
Meanwhile, others are celebrating InTheStyle’s newest ambassador – arguing Chessie King, who has an Instagram following of over half a million, is a “motivational” body positive role model whatever size you are.
I respect that you may not agree but actually as a curvier lady I find Chessie to be super motivational. You are sharing your opinion with no solution as to how the brand could solve this because ultimately it sits with them— Ebony🦖 (@Ebony_notEmily) July 16, 2019
5ft 2 - 15 stone..i am a plus size woman. I've been 10 stone..even then I wasnt happy. Thank you for showing that woman whoa are tiny are sometimes never the happiest and all woman just need confidence. That's what it's about believing in yourself. This woman sure does that ♥️— Alexandra 💙 (@mummy_of_two_) July 16, 2019
Adam Frisby, founder and CEO of InTheStyle, has also weighed in on the debate.
He told Yahoo UK: “We are saddened by a small minority view on our recent Chessie King campaign.
“Chessie is someone who we purposefully reached out to to collaborate with not just because of the body positive attitude she adopts but the powerful self love message that resonates through her social media channels and the focus she puts on keeping it real.
“We launched an unretouched campaign earlier this year trying to break the damaging, altered, impossibly perfect images our audience are subjected to every single day and Chessie is a perfect ambassador for our brand statement of embracing who you are.”
He added that the campaign includes a “beautiful array” of girls of different sizes, as well as Chessie, and is marketed at dress sizes “from 8 to 22”.
While the jury is out on this campaign, it’s reminiscent of a row earlier this year about the first “curvy” Love Island contestant.
In all the hit ITV show’s previous four seasons, there has not been one plus size female contestant, with very slim women dominating the line-up.
One of this year’s contestants, Anna Vakili, 28, was purported to be the programme’s answer to these complaints – but people were quick to argue otherwise after photos of Vakili – said to be a size 12 – were released ahead of this season’s premiere.