I'm writing an essay on the emergence of plus size models as a form of creative expression. Are there any sociological theories I can use to explain this change from skinny models to 'plus sized'?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Adherents of all of the major sociological perspectives would argue that they have ways to explain the emergence of plus-sized models in today’s world.  These perspectives are functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism.

Functionalists argue that every aspect of society helps in some way to ensure that society will remain stable and orderly. From this perspective, we could say that the emergence of plus-sized models is a way for a society to continue to feel good about itself as it becomes more obese.  As Americans become more obese, they need to feel that that can be attractive so that they do not become unhappy.  This leads to an increased demand for plus-sized models.

Conflict theorists argue that everything about our society comes about through conflict between groups.  From this perspective, we could argue that women are becoming more powerful.  After having been dominated by men for a very long time, we could say that women are gaining more power in our society.  This leads to a situation where they can push to be accepted as they are rather than being forced to conform to certain standards of beauty.  The emergence of plus-sized models means that women are winning the battle for acceptance and against being forced to conform to what men want.

Symbolic interactionism says that society is created by the ways in which individuals create meanings for themselves. From this perspective, plus-sized models are emerging today because people have created (or are in the process of creating) a new definition of what female beauty is.  This comes about through the individual mental processes of a large number of individuals in our society.

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