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The "Plus" Label on Children's Clothing Is Not the Problem

This past weekend, an article on Newsweek,"It's Far Too Early to Label A Young Girl a 'Plus Size' " made the rounds on several plus size websites and blogs. The author of the article shared her online shopping experience for her infant daughter on, and, to her surprise, noticed a 'plus' section for babies on the website.

Reeling from the label, she soon discovered a number of retailers who the phrase 'plus' (or something similar) for children's clothing (including the author's employer, Ralph Lauren.) The author has gone so far as to create a petition to stop labeling children's clothes.

While it's commendable that the author is taking on the retail industry, and possibly putting her job at risk in the process, a label on children's clothing is the least of the problem. The fact that an adult is making "plus" akin to a four-letter word is. Some kids are too young to read "plus" on a clothing label, but they can sense when they're being treated differently from friends and family because of their weight. That, friends, is the real problem.

I'm not relying on words from noted professors in their field or archived articles from respected papers when it comes to what a child feels in regards to weight. I'm relying on my experience as a fat kid. Not chubby. Not big-boned. Fat. Like, 75-pounds-at-age-4 fat.

According to the author, the consensus is for parents to avoid addressing children's weight in a negative way. That would be ideal. My life would be so much different if that was practiced in my household. Parents who make their child's weight loss a top priority won't see their tactics as negative. Other parents who may follow the author's suggestion might be able to control what is said in their home, but what about when that kid steps outside the safe haven of those four walls? How will that child react when a fellow classmate, or an insensitive adult, makes fun of their weight?

Look, I'm not trying to take down this article. It's an opinion piece. The author has hers, and I have mine. A mother is trying to protect her child from the evils of the world, and I can respect that. "Plus" isn't a negative word, but kids do pick up when a word is given a negative power by adults. Kids notice when their parents don't approve of someone who is overweight. How about treating a plus size person like a human being in public, in front of your children, instead of banning a word from clothing on a label most of its target demo can't identify yet? Let actions speak louder than words or, in this case, just one word.



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