Whether Plus Size, Skinny Or In Between - We Are All Real Women

According to the fashion and media powers that be, there are two types of women in this world: the super slim and the super size.

The former cut a model-like figure and are mainly found in magazines - why else do you think there are so many XXS sizes left on the sale rail? - while the latter are plus-size women who are somehow seen to be more ‘real’ than others.

But, in case anyone hadn’t noticed, there are a lot of women left unaccounted for - women that wear a UK size 10-14 who are doomed to dwell in body image No WoMan’s Land, with hardly anyone in the public eye of similar bodily proportions to relate to.

If you find yourself in this middle ground (as many of us do) you’re swiftly ushered towards the lower end of the scales, encouraged to do squats, cut carbs and cry at the reflection of cellulite in the changing room mirror. A pressure which, although present all year round, becomes heightened in January.

On the flipside, women from either end of the spectrum are anything but free from bodily scrutiny.

While plus-size women are paraded around and applauded for sticking two fingers up at the pressures to lose weight, slim women are stripped of their femininity for not being 'real' or curvy enough (as HuffPost blogger Emma J Brooke outlined in her blog 'I'm A Real Woman, Too'.)

Tired of this divide over body shape and size, many women are calling for change.

HuffPost blogger Isabel Foxen Duke wants to create a new category of woman, where medium-sized women are accepted.

“I want models to exist between size 4 and size 12 [UK size 8 and 16],” she writes in her blog Ode To Medium-Sized Woman. “I want to be sold to.”

Jennifer Lawrence, pioneer for positive body image in Hollywood and all-round breath of fresh air, is also keen to make changes. Speaking to US Elle about preparing her body for The Hunger Games, she says she wanted "to look fit and strong—not thin and underfed.”

Natasha Devon, co-founder of positive body image campaign Body Gossip, agrees that body types that occupy the middle space are often overlooked and ignored by mainstream media.

One theory, she believes, is the multi-billion pound industry carved out of body shaming.

"We live in a culture where often only the extremes are represented and celebrated," she tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "This has lead to a dangerous 'all or nothing' mentality very similar to the binge/purge patterns of bulimia nervosa."

"The greatest lie that the media has sold us is that thinness and obesity is a choice between discipline and decadence," she adds. "If we eat all the food groups and exercise in moderation there are a number of ways our body might end up because there are many builds, metabolisms and body types out there in the world."

Rivkie Baum, editor of SLiNK (the UK's first plus-size fashion magazine) says, that although representing all body types would be the ideal scenario, implementing such diversity is easier said than done.

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, she explains that fashion designers use set sample sizes for business purposes - it enables their products to be sent all over the world for use on multiple campaigns and runways.

The problem, she suggests, is also rooted in the way we consume fashion images and turn against each other.

"It's just a shame that an idea that is very much business focussed, has meant that women of different sizes are trolling each other for being too skinny or too big," she says. "Even though we're a modern, culturally diverse society we still can't deal with different body shapes and accept one another."

HuffPost UK Lifestyle are saying no to January (#SaynotoJan). Enough of the detoxing, cleansing and carb-cutting.

Our new year is about new beginnings and fresh, healthy attitudes to body image.

Jennifer Lawrence

Our Body Image Heroes