Okay… We’re having this conversation: BBW and Plus Size…. What’s the difference?

Nov 12, 2018 by

Okay… We’re having this conversation: BBW and Plus Size…. What’s the difference?

With our new dating, love, and romance site opening today, we thought we’d attack an issue that we’ve been avoiding for years. It’s time to have this discussion. What is the difference between the phrases “BBW” and “Plus?” We’ve lost friends, employees, models, etc. over this conversation. The phrase BBW strikes a chord with some. But, it’s commonly used and at SOME POINT (not today), we need to take it back into mainstream media. But, what does it stand for?

From Wikipedia: Big Beautiful Woman” (commonly abbreviated as BBW) is a euphemism for an overweight woman.[1] The terms “Big Beautiful Women” and “BBW” were coined by Carole Shaw in 1979, when she launched BBW Magazine, a fashion and lifestyle magazine for “plus-size” women.

We’re not going to even get into the abbreviations for Big Handsome Man (BHM) and Super Sized BBBW (SSBBW)… yet. But, we need to have those conversations, as well. Amazin’ Amy wrote an awesome piece for us, this summer, discussing terminology in the plus size community.

Although “BBW” may have been first used in the context of the old BBW Magazine, the term’s usage spread over the years, to the point that even women who had never heard of the magazine began to refer to themselves as “BBWs.” It’s spanned into dating, media, and some other areas which we won’t mention, here. The term is also commonly used as a positive euphemism by those involved with the fat acceptance movement.

Some women may adopt the term as a personal preference over the term curvy or full-figured. Such terms, and others such as “queen-sized”, “plus-sized”, or “fat” may lead to feelings of marginalization or non-inclusion for some women. However, some strongly prefer the term fat over other words which they consider unnecessary euphemisms.

The abbreviation BBW can often be found used in personal ads (and online dating services) denoting an identification with (or preference for) plus women in dating, and is also used to denote events specifically targeted to them (we see the term BBW Bash including all size inclusive events that involve mixers, much like “Kleenex” is inclusive, in name, of most tissues we grab) and persons interested in them, such as specific gathering nights in dance clubs, restaurants, and fashion stores and shows.

“I feel like BBW is kind of dated & plus is kind of more modern.” says Charlotte Rose, Model and Bold Magazine Reader

Charlotte Rose, Model and Bold Reader

BBW has a pretty narrow focus. Then again, the term plus size is pretty broad. From Dictionary.com

plus-size
/ˈpləssīz/
adjective
adjective: plus-size
(of clothing or people) of a size larger than the normal range.

Wow…. what is normal? Cosmo defines that as anywhere above a size 8.

(https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/celebs/news/a18375/plus-sized-models/)

Most consider plus sizes to be anywhere above a size 14/16, with 10-14 being what we call bridge sizes, especially in high fashion.

According to PLUS Model magazine; “In the fashion industry, plus size is identified as sizes 10-14, super size as sizes 1X-6X and extended size as 7X and up.”

The article continues… ‘Plus sizes are sizes 14W – 24W. Super sizes and extended sizes are used interchangeably for sizes 26W and above. Sometimes the size 26W is included in plus size’.”

That clothing has also been called “outsize” in Britain, a term that has been losing favor. One example of this is the renaming of “Evans Outsize” to simply “Evans,” as well as losing their advertising slogan “Evans – The Outsize Shop.”

“I personally see BBW as a shape whereas plus size is specifically a size… People often mistake shape and size as the same thing… For instance, a lot of plus-size clothes are not made to fit a plus size shape… It’s simply all about size… Whereas BBW explains the shape in a very generalized term…” – Tigerlilly Rose, Bold reader and self proclaimed BBW Model (most people

Tigerlilly Rose, Bold Reader and Model

A relatively new alternative term for plus size (or large size) gaining consumer and editorial favor is curvy…. which so many folks are averse to. We have our thoughts. Are all women who are plus curvy? What about women who aren’t plus? Can they be curvy as well?

From Wikipedia:

“In a euphemistic sense, curvy is regarded as less offensive to those that wear larger sized clothes.”

“I think people used to shy away from the term plus and now it’s more straight forward to just clothes. I personally am not super into BBW because it can feel overly sexual. It also makes it seem like oh ok they’re conservatively attractive it’s ok your fat. But if people are comfortable and find happiness in the term so be it. Personally I’d rather just be called plus or fat.” – Charlotte Rose

We, as Bold Magazine, remember the first time we heard someone call themselves “fat.” Many of you Bold Babes don’t know this, but the interviews that actually made us viral a few years back was our “Big Sexy” series, where we interviewed all of the stars of the mini-series. On of the women on that show, Leslie Medlik was using the word “fat.” I had asked if she could find another word and she said “I want that word in your interview or I’d rather not be interviewed. Women need to be okay with this word, it’s a descriptor.” We were taken back and even thought about not running the piece. My how things have changed.

Plus, BBW, Curvy, Fat… whatever you use… there are always going to be preferences and people who agree or disagree. We do want to take back all of the phrases in the glossary. And, we plan on being bold about it!

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