The slight cultural shift in our society when it comes to body acceptance has created a new language, especially among larger women and body-positive bloggers that wanted to have a vocabulary that could describe their unique figure.
Terms like full figured, plus size, and curvy became quite popular and of course, reclaiming the word fat as something positive was another victory, at least in my eyes.
But even as I found new words to celebrate my body, I wasn’t sure if all of them represented me.
Like, is there a difference between being curvy vs full figured?
A woman with a full figure has a heavy and rounded body shape, with a large bust, thick hips and backside, and a wide waistline. Curvy women can also be described as having an hourglass figure since the fat distribution is focused on the hips, backside, and bust, while the waistline remains narrow in comparison.
If you’re also a bit confused with fat-positive terminologies then I’m happy to explain the differences between a curvy body type, a full figure, or being plus size, and whether it truly matters!
What Is A Full Figured Body Type?
The term full-figured can be misleading because it doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is overweight, instead, it’s a term used to describe both their size and shape. I also want to add that in the world of fashion a woman who wears a size 12 or larger can be considered to have a full-figured body type.
A full-figured woman usually has a rounded and voluptuous frame all around. Her bust is large and rounded, she has a belly and a wide waist, a rounded and large backside and hips and her thighs can also be equally thick.
For the most part, I do fall under the full-figured category because even though I’m quite short, my body is rounded and my fat distribution goes equally all across my body. When I shop for bras the term full-figured comes up a lot and in reality, it is quite helpful for someone who has a large bust area like me.
What Is Considered A Curvy Body Type?
Similarly to the full-figured definition being curvy doesn’t equate to one’s weight instead it is more about the type of shape your body has.
Being curvy has to do a lot with the type of distribution of fat across certain areas of your body. A curvy woman usually has wider hips, thighs, backside, and a larger bust while having a narrow waistline.
It’s the difference between the waist, hips, and bust that creates the curves, which is why a woman with this body type is characterized as curvy, also known as the hourglass figure.
This means that you can be any size and still be curvy as long as you basically have a narrow waist compared to your upper and lower body.
What Is The Difference Between Being Full Figured Vs Curvy?
You can’t be curvy and full-figured and vice versa because these are two different terms that describe two different body types. Of course, the two are not completely different and the major difference between a full figure and a curvy body type is the waistline.
Having a curvy or an hourglass body type means that you have a narrow waist and the curves of your upper and lower body are more prominent, compared to a full figure where the waistline is much wider and the overall curves create a more rounded silhouette.
That being said you will often see full-figured women describe themselves as curvy because in a sense they still have rounded curves. Some women are also curvier than others, and the more prominent the difference between their waist, hips, and bust the curvier they are.
I feel like context also matters, because when it comes to picking up clothes for myself I look for a more full-figured oriented style, but when I’m in a personal setting with my husband or friends, the term curvy is used in a more sassy and complimentary manner, similarly to the word thick.
What Is The Difference Between Being Full Figured Vs Plus Size?
When it comes to being plus-sized the definitions can get blurry because each brand will have different criteria when they consider a model or a piece of clothing plus size.
You might hear some people describe plus-size people as big and tall, but what’s considered plus size can vary by brand and industry.
When we talk about plus-size people we basically talk about the size of an individual, not their body shape, while when we describe someone as full figured we may use it to both describe their size and body type.
What’s important to note here is that if we consider being full-figured a body type then a woman can be plus size and full-figured. Additionally being full-figured doesn’t necessarily mean that you are plus size.
I definitely see myself as a plus-size woman with a full figure, similarly, I also have friends that are plus size and they have a curvy body type.
What Is The Difference Between Being Full Figured Vs Overweight?
As I already mentioned above the term full-figured is used to describe the body shape and size of an individual while being overweight has more to do with the excess body fat that one might carry regardless of the fat distribution.
In fact, plus size can be another word for overweight and fat, and when it comes to these terminologies I often like to share this research paper because it sheds some light on this topic.
According to this 2018 study, “plus-size fashion bloggers are more likely to use words like “plus-size,” “full figured” or “fat” than “curvy” when describing themselves or the group of women they identify with because curvy is often associated with the fashion industry sugarcoating the word fat with curvy.”
So, in a sense, a woman can use all four terminologies to basically describe her size as overweight, by either choosing a more politically correct term “plus size” or by reclaiming the word “fat.”
Olivia Campbel, a plus-size model, talks about how words have power in the most personal and eye-opening way in the video below that is definitely worth listening to.
At the end of the day, one can be full-figured and overweight. This means that the accumulation of excessive fat is distributed all around your body creating a rounded body type, with a large bust, wide hips and backside, and with a wide waistline.
How Do You Know Your Body Type?
Knowing under which body type category you fall is not easy, and most of the things you’ll read online are outdated ideas that use fruit-related words to describe what you may or may not look like.
Let’s take the concept of somatotypes, which was an idea developed in the 40s that according to Everydayhealth would “correlate body types with physical strengths and weaknesses, personality characteristics, and behavior.”
As you can imagine this sounds like a conspiracy theory more than science and somatotype is a highly disputed taxonomy and there is no scientific basis for it.
The truth is that everyone’s body is unique and you might find that your body looks like an apple or a pear, an hourglass, or you might simply call yourself plus-size to describe your voluminous size.
You might also see your body as curvy or having a larger belly might make you feel more at home with the full-figured description.
At the end of the day, it’s all about your comfort and when it comes to clothing you can choose to accentuate your volume or create new shapes on your body that feel more flattering and more like you.
As I’ve you don’t need to know your body type to wear whatever the hell you want!
Why Does It Matter If You Are Full Figured, Curvy, or Plus Size?
In a sense, it doesn’t matter, but knowing the distinction between curvy, full-figured, and plus-size can help you find a term to describe your body.
It can also help you navigate your way towards clothing that was designed for your body type and size. So, you can achieve optimum comfort, whether that’s a pair of durable leggings, a right-sized bra, or underwear that’s not rolling down.
Finally, these terms can help you find your fashion style, and choose whether you want to follow the do’s and don’ts when it comes to clothing.
Dress Tips For Full Figured Women
Dressing up according to your size and shape isn’t just about aesthetics, even though that could be a big part of that, it’s also important that you feel that your clothes are comfortable and they offer you the right support.
You need to remember that there’s a big difference between buying clothes that are fitting and too tight. Instead of feeling discomfort around your bust and belly area, you need to have plenty of room to breathe.
Speaking of clothes that fit you, I also want to add that you need to make sure that you invest your money into clothing that is your size, that fits you like a glove, and feels comfy and good.
For example, as a short and full-figured woman that is also plus size, I feel like I can wear anything I want from controversial capri pants to a loose shirt with polka dots, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any favorites.
One thing that I have noticed that looks good on me and feel comfy are wrapped dresses and shirts because they don’t show off my belly, instead they accentuate my waist without digging into my skin in order for the waist to appear slimmer.
However plus size models like Missdeadlyred has shown me that my belly is nothing to be ashamed of and that my curves can look beautiful wrapped in an oversized sweater or a fitted dress.
Another thing that I find important as a full-figured gal is picking the right undergarments. This is where the term has really helped me find the right bra that can hold my large bust without pulling at my shoulders or digging into my back.
I must admit that my lower body doesn’t necessarily fit into the full figure category 100% and that’s because my hips are more narrow than wide. But if you have really wide hips then some well-fitted pants can really accentuate your curves or a loose pair can add more length while giving more accent to the upper body instead.
It’s also about creating a balance between the upper and lower body like if you choose to wear a fitted top you can go for a pair of pants with a wide leg. On the other hand, if you go for straight-line pants or fitted jeans then you can go for a looser tunic top.
I think as a full-figured woman I get to experiment with a lot of shapes, colors, and garment materials because I have curves to accentuate and work with. This is something that all plus-size women can do whether they choose to follow the rules or not.
Dress Tips For Curvy Women
Curves are great to have because you can truly wear just about anything you want, and all you have to do is make sure your waistline doesn’t get lost under loose garments.
You can try to go for, shirts, blouses, sweaters, and t-shirts that fit you properly. If you want to accentuate your narrow waist you can add a nice belt or wear a flowy high-waisted skirt or a pair of high-waisted stretchy jeans.
A-line skirts and skirts that have a cut diagonally are also a great option for curvy women, especially if you have wide claves because they can give you more freedom of movement compared to straight skirts or pencil skirts.
When it comes to curves making sure your waist looks small to achieve that hourglass figure is a mainstream thing to do and while it can be sexy and feminine, I’ve found that myself and many of my curvaceous friends feel disheartened by the pressure of flaunting their curves, cause otherwise they just look big.
Don’t get me wrong you shouldn’t have to hide your curves either, but if you’re going for a chill stroll at the park you shouldn’t have to feel like you need to put on a tight pair of jeans and a crop top.
Flex.mami an incredible Australian influencer has actually opened my eyes to so many wonderful styles that are all about loose garments made from flowy materials.
She often accentuates her curves with a crop top, and short dresses but she showed me that the baggy clothes that are in fashion now are not an unattainable sense of style for big girls either and we should have the option to dress up in casual oversized flashy clothing as well, with chunky jewelry and chunky crocs.
Admittedly we still have a long way until fatphobia isn’t prevalent in our society, but I’m always so happy to see fellow fat, full-figured, curvy, and plus-size women loving their large bodies unapologetically.
It’s not always easy to see where you fit into these “categories” and you don’t necessarily have to. These words can make it easy to figure out your style and how you want to dress your body, but once again that is up to you.
You can pick a word that makes you feel comfortable, or you can be like me and call yourself fat just as unapologetically. Because being fat doesn’t take away from your worth, and your beauty!
So, remember to live life big!