A move to banish the plus-size label may be a step in the wrong direction, says a Brisbane fat activist.
It all started with an Instagram post.
Author and former The Biggest Loser host Ajay Rochester posted a photo of a ‘plus-size’ model on the social media site because she was “tired of being made to feel inferior, not good enough and separate from acceptance in the media and the fashion world”. She started the #DropThePlus movement, a call for the ‘plus’ to be taken off labels and removed from our lexicon.
“There is only one direction of #DropThePlus and that is to have the term plus-sized dropped altogether — be it as a fashion label, a descriptive term when referencing any woman not a size 0-4, or as a term to segregate one group of models (women) from another,” Rochester said in an online statement.
“Since then women around the world have been joining us, sharing their own stories and photos, using the hashtag “droptheplus” and letting the industry know it is time for a change. We will not be silenced, we will be treated with respect and we will not stop until we are all embraced as the beautiful human beings we are.”
Aussie model Stefania Ferrario also fired up the movement by taking to Instagram and decrying her status as a ‘plus-sized’ model.
I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you're above a US size 4 you are considered plus size, and so I'm often labelled a 'plus size' model. I do NOT find this empowering. A couple of days ago, @ajayrochester called the industry to task for its use of the term 'plus size' by making the point that it is 'harmful' to call a model 'plus' and damaging for the minds of young girls. I fully support Ajay and agree with her. Let's have models of ALL shapes, sizes and ethnicities, and drop the misleading labels. I'm NOT proud to be called 'plus', but I AM proud to be called a 'model', that is my profession! Visit droptheplus.org for full explanation of the dangers this label carries (especially on young impressionable girls). #droptheplus
However, the online campaign has not been embraced by all, with some bloggers and activists saying it is more harmful than helpful.
Iconic international plus-size fashion blogger Jay Miranda thinks the campaign is poorly thought out and feels “insulted as a person who has found community amongst women who embrace plus-size”.
Brisbane-based blogger and fat activist Kath Read says the campaign sends the message that people who wear plus-size clothing should be embarrassed to be identified that way.
“Fat activists and fatshion bloggers have spent a lot of years working very hard to improve the market for plus-size clothing,” says the Fat Heffalump blogger. “We’ve worked hard to get the industry taking plus-sizes seriously, and to include us in their merchandise and marketing. We are still a very long way from where we should be, but there are more and better options now than there were five years ago.
“That said, if you are over a 2X (or the local equivalent), the options dwindle down to very few indeed. We are still in a time where major retailers exclude plus-sizes by removing them from their stores and expecting plus-sized customers to buy online. They exclude us by charging ridiculously inflated prices compared to straight-sized clothing. They exclude us by offering unfashionable styles in dark, dreary colours.
“This campaign to drop the term plus-size is actually not helping those of us that rely on plus-size ranges. It is, in fact, going to impact negatively on us. Retailers will feel that it’s acceptable to no longer stock any sizes over their standard range, because they’re going to ‘drop the plus’. Which will leave people of actual size with even fewer options than we already have.”
Read says she would like to know how the #DropThePlus supporters plan to label fat people.
“I don’t mean twee euphemisms like curvy, chubby, fluffy or voluptuous,” she says. “I mean actually fat. If they have a problem with the term ‘plus-size’, you can bet that they also have a problem with the word fat.
“Or do they think that there is a limitation on which people get to be considered ‘normal’? Are they just moving the bar of ‘normal’ slightly to a place that still excludes many of us? If they’re not going to use the word ‘plus-size’ to refer to bodies like mine, what word will they use?
“I’ll bet my 300lb+ body won’t be considered ‘normal’ by them, so what do they propose I use? I have a funny feeling that the vilest of all words, ‘obese’, will be tabled because it’s a clinical term. HELL NO. I am not going to be labelled as a disease.
“All in all, the #DropThePlus campaign is another deeply misguided attempt to create some kind of feel good movement that, yet again, excludes those of us at the far end of the bell curve.”
What do you think about the #DropThePlus movement? Have your say in the comments below!