I’m Lissom and Luscious – Not Large

//I’m Lissom and Luscious – Not Large

A feminist rant from our Editorial Director, who takes issue with the ridiculous way we label ourselves.

In the spirit of #EmmaWatson’s ‘Feminist Bookclub’ which she’s launching on Twitter, I thought I’d start an irregular ‘Feminist Rant’ on our blog. I’m not a ‘burn your bra/I hate men’ feminist – far from it. Some of my best friends are men! No, this FemiRant is about issues that tend to just affect women. Like dress sizes, for example.

This Christmas, my mother gave me a beautiful top with a built-in bra (honest – it’s not going to just be about bras), and as I’m a size 14 on top, she got it in size Medium. I loved it. Imagine my horror then when Medium was way too small – I couldn’t even get it over my shoulders. I was pissed off to have to send it back, and wait for the Large size to arrive. I tried it on, and it fits snugly, if perhaps a tad too tight – but if at size 14 (under the national average size of 16), I’m considered to be Large, then what is size 16 – Enormous? What about 18 – Gargantuan? What about 20 – Cetacean? For men, Large has a status equivalent of powerful, dominant, supreme. For women it is weak-willed and unattractive.

I hate it that our beautiful bodies are being labelled in this way, and whilst I totally appreciate that there has to be some way of differentiating between sizes, manufacturers should at least get their facts right. 16 is Medium, it is the average size of women in the UK.

Mind you, I still have a problem with the standard terminology, which is so limiting, so dull. As a writer and editor, I love words and their transformative power, so I’m suggesting that we transform the way we look at ourselves with a simple change to the way we label ourselves. Instead of the old and misleading XS, S, M L etc., I suggest the following instead:


            10 – Lithe and lovely (10LL)

            12 – Svelte and sublime (12SS)

            14 – Lissom and luscious (14LL)

            16 – Classic and comely (16CC)

            18 – Voluptuous and adorable (18VA)

            20 – Bountiful and beautiful (20BB)


A recent television programme (Trust Me I’m A Doctor, BBC 2) added insult to injury with some new research that concludes that women with larger hips and bums may in fact be more healthy than their slimmer counterparts. So, not only are us lissom ladies vilified for being large, but we’re admonished to lose weight when we may in fact be at our healthy optimum.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world, and this is a minor quibble in an ocean of insanity, but until all body types are valued for what they are – beautiful and functional – we’re never going to break out of the young + slim = attractive mindset. Many older women say that they feel invisible because their hair is greying and their skin is wrinkling, but I say – you wouldn’t be invisible if you wore a T-shirt saying ‘I’m fucking gorgeous!’ on it. In the end, it’s up to us to refuse to be categorised by terminology, archetypes and norms.


Lorna Howarth

Lorna Howarth

Editorial Director at The Write Factor
I'm fascinated by the potential of the imagination to dream a new world into being.
Lorna Howarth

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  1. Veerle Emboo January 15, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Hello you lovely-lissom-luscious one!
    I completely understand your outrage. Being luscious/svelte (top/bottom), some of my clothes are XL… and they’re not too big. I know a label doesn’t alter anything, but it made me feel a bit uneasy nonetheless.
    (It can depend on where the clothes are made though, e.g. Dutch and German clothes are sized more comfortably compared to Italian ones).
    My bugbear is the fact that ‘my girls’ are the reason that I need a bigger size on top…
    Looking forward to reading more of your blogs. xx

    • Lorna Howarth January 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comments Veerle – I think this is something most of us feel quite strongly about. Always lovely to see you and your girls! Hope it’s not too long until the next time. I’m enjoying Drew’s blogs – he’s very talented and his book will see the light of day, one way or the other, of that I’m sure. xx

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