The inbetweenie debate

A few hours ago, Australian model Robyn Lawley accepted a Full Figured Fashion Week award for 2013 Plus Sized Model of the Year and posted pics on her Facebook page. While most of the responses were positive and supportive, there were a number of people who felt the need to ostracise her – not because she is plus sized but because she is not plus sized enough.


Image: Robyn Lawley

I don’t think you should be representing ‘fuller figure’ fashion. It’s setting a bad example for young girls. You are not full figured. You are thin. Shame on the fashion industry.

No offence Robyn but fuller figure – I think not!

Even Lawley questions her plus sized status -

I am normal, so why am I called plus size?

Quote: Style has no size

I can only assume that many of the negative comments on Lawley’s Facebook page were reactions to the celebration of an inbetweenie as a plus sized woman. Did the award misrepresent or marginalise the plus sized community? Is it a question we should be asking the fashion industry – why do we talk about plus size when we see an average sized woman? Herein lies the inbetweenie v plus sized debate.

Having loitered at the sidelines of the online plus sized community for a few years, observing but not participating, I found the recurring inbetweenie v plus sized debate fascinating, particularly as my weight fluctuates between both camps. Personally, I see the value of labels and categories. When ‘straight’ fashion excluded me, categories helped me to find other women who looked like me and who celebrated the body that I had. Having said that, whilst my weight fluctuates between both camps I never fail to be inspired by or celebrate the other category.

I think the plus sized community should be better than the comments posted on Lawley’s wall. When I am excluded from one community, who am I to exclude others from mine? I was brought up to be better than that and I had hoped that that plus sized community had too.

Perhaps I am more accepting than others, or perhaps I use the term plus size broadly to describe the entirety of the ‘non-straight’ community. Either way, posting negative comments on the Facebook page of someone who, inbetweenie or not, has done so much for the promotion of body acceptance and diversity in fashion is not only counter-intuitive but also pretty shameful.

As Lawley says…

I think being happy is the most important thing in life and it’s one of the hardest things to achieve. Being content and happy with who you are is unfortunately really hard for a lot of people.

Quote: Vogue Australia

And she’s right, it can be really hard. So lets embrace any and all women who promote body acceptance and body diversity, inbetweenie or not.


Image: Fashion Model Directory


  • Katrina says:

    Hmmmm, I wouldn’t exactly class her as plus size. She looks like a 10/12 to me. 14 at a push.

    Yes, she has curves and looks healthy but I wouldn’t say plus size. I recall steven tyler (aerosmith) has a daughter who is/was model. now to me she is classed as is size and looks amazing!

    I would say that Robyn is the size the fashion / beauty industry should be using as standard!

    • jo says:

      That’s a fair point. Perhaps both the fashion industry and common use of the term ‘plus size’ denotes ‘larger than average’, and the issue arises when the average for models is so much less that the average for the general population.

    • LauraAnne says:

      Actually Steven Tyler’s two daughters both modeled–Liv Tyler was a straight model while Mia Tylerwas a plus model…both are gorgeous! And both do not look like the sterotypical stick thin catwalk models. I think we should embrace all types of women and all types of bodies and just celebrate it as our unique individual beauty!!

  • [...] work today away from social media, I came home to discover that the model I posted about yesterday here, Robyn Lawley, had written on her Facebook page about my blog [...]

  • Katrina says:

    I think the larger than average title though is specific to the fashion industry. For the rest of the real world her sizing is average or what should be regarded as the norm.

    Using Robyn as a model is definitely a step in the right direction and women with body shapes like her should be used as standard, but if she is going to be referred to as ‘plus size’ it is going to have consequences for young girls who will continue to aspire to be like stick thin models because they are regarded as ‘normal’.

    At the end of the day it’s down to the fashion industry as a whole to change, but well done to Robyn for breaking down barriers.

    That’s just my thoughts

    • jo says:

      And very worthy thoughts!

      Everyone deserves to be represented in fashion and advertising – slim, plus size and everyone in between, and anyone who supports body diversity (no matter their size) should be applauded :)

  • [...] about her size. The australian Jo, wrote about this ‘inbetweenie debate’ on her Plus Beauty Blog wrote a great article about this discussion and Molly Mimi explained what plus size exactly is and [...]

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