drop the plus size and just celebrate beauty

A new campaign is trying to get plus size tag dropped and make think of all models as just models.

by Charlotte Gush
30 March 2015, 10:25am

21 year old model Stefania Ferrario wears a UK size 12, sports a bleach blonde pixie crop and would like everyone to stop their bullshit labeling now please. Ferrario is one of a group of Australian models challenging the fashion industry to #DropThePlus and chuck the 'plus size' label for good, reported . The face of Dita Von Teese's lingerie line recently posed topless with "I AM A MODEL" printed across her stomach in an Instagram post captioned: "I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modeling industry if you're above a US size 4 you are considered plus size... I do NOT find this empowering... I'm NOT proud to be called 'plus', but I AM proud to be called a 'model', that is my profession!".

Thanks to some fiendish pot-stirring by (who else?) the Daily Mail, a social media spat between size 14 model Laura Wells and Australian TV personality Ajay Rochester, about whether the former should rightly be considered 'plus size', sparked debate around fashion's spurious system of model classification. "Any idea the kind of damage you (the media/fashion industry) do to the minds of young girls by even using those words with a picture like [Laura's]?" Ajay asked. Stefania Ferrario's topless selfie was posted in support of Ajay's campaign and together they set #DropThePlus trending, with women around the world adding their voices and selfies at a phenomenal rate.

'Plus size' is just a benign industry term used to differentiate, not discriminate, many objected. "You can't be defensive about it, or apologize about [plus-size fashion]. Why should the category be any different from petite?", Arcadia's Philip Green told WWD after the Evans catwalk show at London Fashion Week. But petite describes a particular body ratio, when a woman fits a certain size, but with shorter proportions, so sleeves and trouser legs are cut shorter. 'Plus size' describes nothing. Plus to what? An arbitrarily selected size range (UK10 and under) deemed by the fashion industry to be 'standard'. As Ferrario pointed out on Twitter, we already have a way of differentiating between relatively smaller and larger women: "We have a useful number system for sizes, we don't need a pointless 'plus' classification on top of this."The language matters: the implication is that anything above 'standard size' is too big, not normal, not fashionable. This is damaging for us all.

As many of the women hashtagging #DropThePlus describe on social media, when they look at a 'plus size' model who is smaller than them and often smaller than the average woman (size 16 in the UK), they think "If that's 'plus', what am I?". "Even further from our idea of beauty"is the cold reply from the hundreds of identikit fashion images these women are bombarded with, willingly or not, every day of their lives. Fashion should empower everyone to express their personality and enjoy their appearance, not exclude and undermine them based on their size.

The plus size label is also bad for the models it claims to represent, placing them in the same kind of false dichotomy with real models, as the industry standard models have been put in with real women. As if 'plus size' models aren't really models, and 'standard size' models aren't really women. Use of the label 'real women', which was initially meant to be an empowering term for women "with curves" (whatever that means), has thankfully trailed off after everyone accepted the obvious objection from sample size models that they are real women too. Plus size must die the same death, as it falsely stigmatizes size 12+ models as not normal and not real models.

This stigma has constructed a kind of creative ghetto that makes it hard for size 12+ models to be successful in their careers. There are 'plus size' fashion weeks and magazines, but top creatives rarely venture there. Without the support of big brands and magazines, this output has low production values, with less exciting clothes and less experienced photographer, stylists, and hair and make-up teams, making it much harder to create a high fashion image, no matter the talent of the model. Even top models need a top team to create a high fashion image, as Cindy Crawford acknowledged when she famously said, "Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford!"

When fashion titles do cast size 12+ models, they often play to boring stereotypes, shooting them in 50s dresses, Mad Men-style office wear, or lingerie, in the same way that black models are often cast in shoots dubbed 'tribal' or 'ethnic'. The fashion industry is supposed to explode tired and boring tropes like these! Creatives who fear the cliches surrounding UK 12+ models must realize that they stem from their limited - and derivative - imaginations, not the model's body size and shape; or their age, ability or ethnicity for that matter.

Perhaps the 'plus size' label served a purpose as a banner for size 12+ models to gather under, creating a supportive community and a visible movement. Fashion reached a point where women over a size 10 were so completely excluded that there needed to be whole separate divisions within model agencies in order to get them on the books at all. But we've moved past that now. We're used to seeing size 12+ models in campaigns and magazine editorials; not frequently enough, for sure, but enough that it isn't a shock anymore. Now it's time to reject this unnecessary and discriminatory label and embrace size diversity as the new industry standard.


Text Charlotte Gush

Plus Size
Stefania Ferrario
charlotte gush