So what the heck is an “inbetweener” or “inbetweenie”? I didn’t create the terms, I am just here to define them for you as I identify with the word. An inbetweener is a fashion based term referring to the women who fall in between straight size clothing stores and plus size clothing stores. Usually, these women wear a size 12/14/16 or large/extra large. The fact that they can shop at straight size stores sometimes is a privilege, but a frustrating one because they often have experiences like the one I describe in my earlier post about sizing. Things like never getting to buy items on sale because your size is the most common size women buy may lead to frustration but it also leads to greater representation. Many, in fact, most, of the plus size models currently working are these sizes. Curvy models like Ashley Graham and Philomena Kwao are great examples of what I mean by an “inbetweener” size.
In my opinion, the word is neutral and in no way meant to divide the plus size community. It is a unique position that has its own privilege to acknowledge. Inbetweeners may be seen by some as an “acceptable amount of plus size” or as a “healthier plus size person” and as a result experience privilege in many settings. For example, many of the outright oppressions that larger plus size people experience will simply not impact inbetweeners. A prime example of this is seat belts and seat size on public transportation such as airplanes. Other examples include movie theatre seats, washroom stall sizes, walkways through small stores and restaurant booths with bench seats that don’t move. Being able to navigate these situations without fear is something I refer to as “curvy privilege” which is, in fact, a version of thin privilege. Both are fueled by fatphobia which results in systemic oppression, like the examples I mentioned above. While I as an inbetweener make it through all of these scenarios without worry, it does often cause my larger plus size friends extreme anxiety and fear. Imagine going out on a first date, nervous like most of us would be, but adding on top of those nerves, you are worried about your date’s reservation choice because you have no details about the style or size of chairs that will be available when you get to the restaurant. No one should be forced to experience that potential embarrassment and complete lack of accessibility.
However, we can’t talk about inbetweeners without acknowledging that they also experience fatphobia and fat shaming. As an inbetweener, I have been called all kinds of horrible names, many of which are hurled at women of all sizes but are all based on the hatred of fat people or “fatphobia”. While we get to shop at straight size stores, inbetweener sizes essentially make up the plus size section in the back of the store, hidden away and often horribly out of style. We have people that we don’t know, tell us that we are unhealthy just by looking at us. We have people talk about our eating and exercise habits like they have a medical degree plus diplomas in both nutrition and personal training. The sad part is that these people are not experts but anonymous social media commenters who have been brain washed by diet culture and our fat shaming society. Inbetweeners are subject to many of the so-called fashion faux pas rules that we are supposed to follow in order to dress in a way that flatters our specific body type. For many of us, that body type is commonly known as “the hour glass with a bit more sand in it”. Inbetweeners are not exempt from the oppressive hiring practices of many companies that privileges thin women in both who gets the job and how much they get paid. The impact of our very average size, falls somewhere between privilege and oppression, another reason that inbetweener really is the perfect term.
Because representation matters and because I am all about people getting to self-identify, I’d love to build a community of women who consider themselves inbetweeners or inbetweenies. Please comment below with your IG screen name if you do!