Cute big bodies: Fashion for plus-size Muslim women in a Malaysian magazine

Malaysia is a fat-phobic country, and so it’s welcoming to see pockets of fat acceptance in the media. In this case, a rare fashion spread for “plus-sized” women in a local Muslim women’s lifestyle magazine, Nur.

"XXL: Still stylish and sweet"

Reading the text above, the use of the word “comel” (cute) to mean larger body is interesting; while it is certainly a euphemism, it’s almost certainly used to mean a larger female body. Does the word make fatness more positive by associating it with cuddliness and other possible endearing qualities related to cuteness? “Comel” is an ideal concept of youthful Malay femininity – it connotes a woman or girl who is ultra-feminine and non-threatening, and so to include different body shapes under the umbrella of “comel” is probably positive. Just as an aside note: we may find plus size-friendly fashion spreads/advice in the mainstream media in Malaysia, but signs of fat acceptance is still marginalised and consumer-oriented. A consumer-oriented form of fat acceptance (through the selling of products for a ‘niche’ consumer group) may actually be insincere. Thoughts?

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