The dangers of the ‘plus size’ label and obsession with size, have been discussed and debated for years, now they’re taking off with people around the world joining in and sharing their stories via the new hashtag #droptheplus.



What is #droptheplus about?

The media regularly publishes photos of models and emphasises that they are “plus sized models”. Why are they not referred to simply as “models”?

“Plus” implies bigger than “normal”.  Any model above US size 4 is considered a “plus sized” model. The average American woman is US size 14. Mixed with all the other body image pressures facing women, the implication that most women are “plus sized”, not “normal” is very dangerous to women and society.

The origins of the term “plus size” hints at its outdatedness. It arose in the 1920s to describe the clothes that did not meet the decade’s notorious, slender body ideals.

It’s a great step forward that models in the current “plus sized” category are now being used by major fashion labels, but it’s a step backwards to have them constantly referred to as “plus sized”. When the major labels first started using these models, perhaps the “plus sized” term played a positive role in alerting the public to this important change. But it’s now time for complete acceptance, it’s time to drop the label. They’re all “models”, no matter what shape or size.

The fashion industry is one of the world’s most influential industries on women. To be labelling a size range “plus”, that actually encompasses the majority of women in the world, is not only harmful, it’s absurd!

If something in an industry is causing damage to people, then it needs to be reformed. #droptheplus is a part of a much bigger movement to reform the hyper-influential fashion industry. Italy, Spain and Israel adopted laws in 2013 to prevent the industry from using models with an excessively low Body Mass Index (BMI) and France is currently in the process of bringing in the same laws. Things are beginning to change for the better.

Fashion Retail Stores

As Elle online stated: “If you think about it, doing away with the term makes perfect sense. In most “plus size” clothing, the numbers just go up from 12, so there’s no need to distinguish it. By adding “plus size,” women with larger dress sizes are soiled into a group, and considered an “other” instead of who they are: women, regardless of size.”

We should be representing women of all sizes in fashion and department stores. As Isaac Mizrahi said: “I don’t want to speak to a plus-sized woman differently than I speak to a woman,” he said, adding, “I don’t like segregation, I like incorporation, I like integration. If you’re going to do clothes, you need to do them in a whole size range.”


Stores1 Stores3 Stores2 Stores4

What does it want to achieve?

  1. The labels “plus” and  “plus size” removed from the fashion industry and removed from the media reporting on it.
  2. Retail stores to follow suit by dropping the “plus size” label and becoming more inclusive. Clothing lines should cater to a broad size range and be made to flatter different body shapes.
  3. Models of all sizes to be used consistently, without misleading labels.

The response 

The response to #droptheplus has been amazing! The traditional media, social media and personal messages have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive of the movement.

Twitter #droptheplus

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By “Plus sized” models

Some “plus sized” models have come out against #droptheplus by claiming that they are not bothered by the term and embrace it. They’ve missed the point of the movement, it’s not about them.

The primary concern of #droptheplus is the effect the term has on the general public. A young woman looking at a photo of a perfectly healthy woman with the caption “plus size model” below it, is in danger of believing that her own body is bigger than it should be and not normal. This warped self assessment of body image leads to a host of mental and physical health issues.

By “Plus sized” bloggers

A number of women have denounced #droptheplus based upon their own embracing of the label. They suggest that all women should embrace the label and that #droptheplus is undoing all the good work done to encourage this embracement.

#droptheplus applauds women for feeling confident and embracing the label. Everyone should love themselves and strive to disallow a societal label from affecting them in a negative way. But the mere fact that women need to be encouraged to embrace the label should cast suspicion over it’s very existence.

We have a useful number system for sizes, we don’t need a pointless ‘plus’ classification on top of this.

Every major social reform has involved the gradual elimination of offending words and phrases. It’s far easier to banish words from common use than it is to force everyone to embrace them and forget their derogatory meaning.

42 thoughts on “Explained

  1. margitta says:

    “Plus size” is nothing more than than a judgement imposed by the fashion industry. They want us “all” to buy their product. The solution to end this nonsense is to stop buying any article of clothing labeled “plus size”, or placed in a separate “plus size” section of any store. Money speaks louder than anything we can say. Women of ALL sizes need to speak with their wallets.

    • Katrina says:

      So then what should we wear? Lol good thought but ….

    • Kat says:

      In theory I agree, boycotting would be the way to send a clear message to those who decide to slap a plus-size label on their clothing.

      I’m genuinely curious, though, if anyone knows how many shops label their clothes otherwise? Where would those who may be a little bigger go to find their clothing?

      Shouldn’t we just go further and demand that shops size their clothing by actual measurements rather than labels? No-one can deny that logic, it seems drop the plus is the first step rather than the outcome!

    • Eric says:

      In theory I agree, but I’m afraid the retailers will only stop carrying what people don’t buy, which would hurt people. Already my wife has trouble finding affordable clothing in her size (her body type is larger than normal in the US.) Retailers have historically ignored what they consider “niche” boycotts. Only boycotts that truly hit their profits make a difference. So let’s take it a step further. Refuse to do *any* business with retailers who use the terms. And make your reasons known, loudly.

  2. Ash says:

    How would it make small girls feel if we called them “minus-sized” models, and everyone above a 2 was just a “model”? Why is there a plus and no minus? Seems like a backwards double standard to me. #droptheplus

  3. Jenny says:

    Great movement. I completely agree with all the points you put forward here, and just want to say how important it is that you draw people’s attention to all these different aspects of size and body image. It definitely sounds like a good start to get rid of the labels. They don’t to any good – but merely serves as categorizing and putting people into different boxes. Truth is, we have so many more similarities than differences, and a body is just a body no matter what shape or size! Keep up the good work :)

  4. Amy says:

    I think this campaign is great! Models are models, no matter what size.
    However I do see some merit in separating out clothing ranges into different body types in SOME circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, people should be allowed to wear whatever they want and whatever they feel comfortable with! But often, when clothing stores have separate lines for plus size, it’s not just that the sizes are bigger, but the cuts and styles are more flattering for a heavier figure. It’s the same logic behind lines like asos petite and asos tall, they’re the same versions of the normal range, but a bit shorter or a bit longer.

    I think it’s damaging to call them plus size, and alternatives like ‘curve’ should be looked into. It’s also damaging that plus sized ranges are so common but other ranges like tall and petite aren’t, and that there are virtually no plus sized male stores, this ignores the diversity in men’s and women’s body types. But I don’t think disposing if the section altogether is the best option. Shopping is much less stressful when you can go to a store and know that there’s a section that is going to fit and look great on your body type, whether you’re tall, curvy, petite, or averagely built. What does everyone else think?

    • Alvina says:

      I am not a woman who likes to shop. Never have liked to shop. I want to go directly to a section where I can find a size and style for me and not waste my time hunting through all the sizes and inappropriate styles.
      I am fat and I know it. I am a size 3X, now that IS a plus size. Telling women that anything over a size 4 is plus is ridiculous, especially when the average is around a size 14.
      This model is gorgeous and should be the standard size we use for body image. I laugh at the current standard, I was born bigger than that and could never relate. Hence, I have ignored.
      This size woman is one I can relate to and would even use to inspire me to drop weight to look like and buy “that outfit”, which is what the point is, to sell merchandise. If we can’t drop the wording, move the markers and perspective of what is “normal” for today’s standards.

    • Jen says:

      I like what you have to say, but please hear me out. I was skinny most of my life (and like many hope to get back to my healthier self soon). I had a medical event which caused massive weight gain in a short amount of time. Now I have to shop in the “plus” department or at “big girl” stores. Ugh. The truth about having to go to a seperate department? I have to drag my shopping mates with me if they’re not plus size or just skip looking for something for myself. Which draws attention to the fact that I weigh a lot more than my friends/family. That’s embarrassing. Then there are the looks you get when you’re either in the department or the specialty store. More embarrassment.

      And as for having special “plus size” lines that are supposed to flatter a larger body, have you ever looked at the clothes in the plus department? They’re awful. There’s almost no styling. They pick the ugliest prints and fabrics. Somehow they always choose wide horizontal stripes and animal prints, then proceed to cut fabric in a way that makes it hang on a woman’s body as if it were a tablecloth with a hole cut out for a head. It would be great if there were actual care put into the plus lines at most department stores. But that is just not the case. Some stores choose to replicate some of the regular women’s clothing in the pluse department, but then they choose the ugliest ones. It would be most advantageous to everyone if the women’s department expanded to include all sizes – tiny to large. The quality in clothing and the amount of choice available to us larger ladies would improve so much. I think any store that doesn’t want to include all clothes together should mark itself as a specialty store for its chosen niche.

      Can you tell I’m dying for some nice looiking clothes? :)

  5. Momma do says:

    my daughter is a normal weight normal sized little girl. She has strong legs and standard size girls clothing are too tight for her height. We either have to buy her a size up and hem them or purchase “plus” size at JCPenny. These are simple half size up so instead of a size 9 girls she wears a 9.5. She does. It notice the “plus” on the labels but soon will. Why can they not just be a half size on the label. Why must we call it out as plus sized when she is anything but!

  6. Miriam says:

    Girls with size EUR 40 or more shouldn’t feel fat! We should feel beautiful! Please, fashion industry, support us!

  7. Armida Hernandez says:

    I have two beautiful nieces, and a do not want them to grow up not liking there body and get sick

  8. Meg says:

    I fully support this.

  9. Douglas Jeffery says:

    Consider the upheaval if the coin was flipped and all women under a size 6 were called “Minus sized”. Sounds equally rediculous.

    • It would be horrible. Some people are naturally very thin and slight, no more to do with anorexia than everyone who is a bit heavy gorging themselves on junk food. Eat a healthy diet, lead an active life (not just “sport” but walking and cycling daily) and stop killing yourselves comparing yourselves with celebrities who are slim, busty and hippy, ripped and cut (for men) etc.

  10. Tish says:


  11. Ray says:

    “Plus size” benefits no one but the INDUSTRIES: fashion, dieting, fitness machines, but NEVER the intended consumer.

  12. H. W. Poteet says:

    no comment, just support

  13. Pat Lile says:

    I AM overweight. I AM fat. And I can NEVER find nice clothes to wear. The “plus size” buyers for 95% of the stores select the most horribly ugly, cheaply made tops, dresses and pants. All the cute stuff is for size 12 and under.
    P.S. Overweight women do not like wearing see-through clothing.

  14. jim says:

    For similar reasons, we should stop using the term “well endowed” when referring to penis size and breast size. It makes people feel like if they don’t have big ones they’re not “well”.

  15. Gavin Fleig says:

    Just drop it.

    It’s a term used to divide. It’s not a positive term. It’s not even remotely on par with mainstream thinking.

    It is the fashion industry being knobbers!

  16. AnonBunny says:

    I can see where you are coming from, but at the same time I see their argument too. Like I get what they mean by making it a positive term you sort of ‘kill the negative.’ In my cause I always changed the “plus” in it to ‘plush.’ Cause there’s more to love and a lot more cushion! hehe <3

    But I won't denounce the movement to get the term removed. A Model is a model is a model is a model. It doesn't matter what size jeans you wear. I don't think someone should have their profession named after how 'big' they look. That would be like calling a CEO a Kingpin all the time even though they aren't associated with the mob. It's ridiculous to have to have a totally different title than people who are in the same industry as you.

    The term shouldn't just be removed because you feel it's a negative impact on body image, it should be removed simply because no one should have to have a different job description just because they're not thin enough. OR because they're TOO thin.

    I don't think any model needs to be weighed just to even get the job.

  17. Auzza says:

    I am all for #droptheplus. I agree having “labels” for women in clothes that are over size 4 is utterly ridiculous. Showing normal size girls as models (without digital enhancements) would be, as a guy’s point of view, one of the best things the industry can do to help women be happy in their own skin.
    In saying that, there are some women (and men) who need to lose some weight. After a certain size for any person it is unhealthy. However, the vast majority of people know this and I’m sure doesn’t need more spoken about the matter.

  18. Paullie Purdy says:

    A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman. Period. I have a four year old daughter I am raising to look beyond appearance.
    I struggle on the opposite end. I have trouble maintaining weight. I do what I can to stay healthy, but can loose 1-3lbs in the course of a day because of a very high metabolic rate. People have made many asinine assumptions about me being anorexic or having an eating disorder, which I DO NOT.
    I love the creativity of the fashion industry, but think art should encompass all types of beauty. There is no proper way to define what is beautiful.

  19. Jennifer Berger says:

    Although my eating disorders were not caused by the fashion industry, labels such as “plus size” impacted me severely. I was skinny as a rail and a size 8 in 7th grade. I now work with women with eating disorders and other issues. Trying to convince them (and sometimes myself, still!) that we are healthy and beautiful is extremely difficult when a size 0 or 2 is consistently being touted as “normal.” I try not to say disparaging comments about exceptionally slender women, as most were built that way, just as I was born with voluptuous hips and breasts. Even more farfetched, lets embrace who we are, not what we look like.

  20. Lori says:

    Thank you for your movement! Definitely needed in today’s society.

  21. Leslie Moyer says:

    I have been at both ends of the size spectrum and applaud this movement. We are all beautiful no matter what size we are.

  22. Jaymie Heintz says:

    I lost nearly half my body mass and I felt good about going from 265pounds down to 140. Until I was asked to do a modeling job and after the shoot was finished they had my images labeled as a “plus size alternative model”. Do you even consider me a model at all bro? Why did you offer me a modeling gig if you have to justify me as a subject? #droptheplus

  23. Sam says:

    There is so much that can be accomplished by this movement if companies wake up and pay attention. 1) removing the “plus” would make all female shoppers feel better about themselves, just because I’m curvy, doesn’t mean that I appreciate being singled out and having my own section. 2) who are these buyers for these stores? Just because I’m larger doesn’t mean I lack all taste in fashion. If you’re going to charge more for clothing because you feel it takes more fabric to make larger sizes, that’s one thing, but at least make the clothing beautiful, it takes just as much fabric to make an ugly shirt/skirt/dress as a nice one. 3) I go into a store (ex. Laura) that has regular, petite and plus sizes. Most of the time, they have these stores joined into one large one, so you can see that the clothing is NOT created equal, a shirt in the regular or petite sizes for example can run you about $40, so explain why a shirt, probably no where near as nice cost me double and sometimes triple that amount?

    It’s not about just dropping the plus, but making everything equal across the board. I’ve been dealing with the “plus” my whole life, it doesn’t even phase me as an adult now, but as a teenager, I spent many shopping trips in the change rooms crying because the larger clothing was just beyond ugly. To me, it’s more about making stores understand equality as a whole and helping their customers to feel beautiful regardless of their size.

  24. Theresa says:

    As a teen i swore that being a healthy curvy size 8 was not right I felt overweight because of the fact that what I was surrounded by smaller girls. I was bulemic for years trying to fit into victoria’s secret sized clothing and avoiding the “plus” sized section. It wasn’t until my late 20’s where I finally accepted that I will never be a size 2 or even a 0. My genetics and heredity say I will be short and curvy. I will never look like some airbrushed minus sized model. Once I realized that I was a happier person. All of us women are beautiful in our own way, shape and size. There is no reason the curvy girl should be singled out by plus sized this or plus size that. It made me constantly self conscious that when I went to the “plus” size for clothing I felt like a side show and not a fun one either. Why does this even stand? If a “minus” size (under an 8″) was put on the spot such as to stand next to a coat rack with the same outfit to see which wore it better all hell would break loose.

  25. Nick Vega says:

    I’m a guy ok, let’s get that straight. I was raised in a house of women, the whole “plus size” thing is bull from the get. Beauty is exactly that no more no less. Weight shouldn’t matter. Quite frankly I see magazines and the only though going through my mind at any given moment is ‘Y’all need some PB&J’s ASAP!’ I’m done with it, social reform for the better of my own generation! (I’m a freshman in high school) Girls at my school have like zero self confidence because they look like humans and eat normal amounts of food. #droptheplus!

  26. Paige says:

    I’m a 15-year-old 5’5 girl with a US dress size 8-10 so am I ‘plus size’? No so why don’t we drop the label and stop making every woman in this world feel like they have to be somebody they’re not because of their weight!

  27. Adeline says:

    This movement is incredibly inspiring and great to see. As someone who is a designer, I often want to make clothes for women of all sizes. It has been an issue at my school that making clothes for larger or simply more curvy women are rejected because some of the professors have the mindset that in order to compete with the other design schools we should fit into the mold of what is considered the “right” size. I would like to think that by entering this industry I can help make a change from labeling people by their size, and rather using a model because they’re beautiful, diverse, and look confident and happy in the clothing they’re wearing. However, as a designer, it’s hard to negotiate this idea, because unless every designer and clothing manufacturer everywhere decides to finally stop labeling clothing “plus-size” or “petite” the sad fact is, making a statement like dropping these terms would initially be perceived as a publicity stunt. I love fashion, and I love designing, but there are some days where I question whether this industry can ever change to accept women as simply women, without finding it necessary to add labels. Especially as a woman who is more full-figured, I often find that it’s discouraging to see the industry so obsessed with making clothing look good on a model that we forget the models are people too with feelings just as important as ours. For our annual fashion show this year I wanted a model who was closer to my figure to wear a dress that I had specifically made for myself while on study abroad. I found a gorgeous girl, who looked fabulous in my garment, but when I went to get it “approved” by the professors they said “she’s too short.” But after she had left the room they basically told me that they wanted someone thinner, not because the garment didn’t look good on the girl I chose, but because they didn’t want it to be a divergence from the look of the rest of the girls. Which to me said that not only was that model visually unnattractive because of her size, but that I was too. This was difficult because it was so disappointing to me that my professors didn’t support my aesthetics. Knowing that the girl knew the real reason she was denied, and feeling just as labeled as she did, I almost didn’t want to show my piece.

    Please, please, PLEASE, let’s continue this movement. I am fully supportive of it from my role as a designer and just as a human being. Thank you for this inspirational idea.

  28. Joe says:

    So I stumbled upon this movement and feel i need to reply. Frankly I’ve seen women on both ends of the spectrum. I’ve seen women (and some men) nearly starve themselves to death trying to lose that last 5lbs. It truly upsets me I am a heavier guy. My wife is a little heavier. I honestly do not see the point of the segregation. It upsets me. It should not what what your size of your tag says. I think one of my favorite commercials was a clothing commercial where instead of saying sizes it said inspirational quotes. No one should be viewed by size. they should be viewed by whats in their heart is what I’m trying to say. I support your movement. I think it’s wonderful and needed.

  29. cindy jensen says:

    FYI Old Navy sells plus sized clothes. Do you know why you have never seen them in their store? Because Old Navy ONLY sells their plus sized clothes on their web sites. They want your money, but they don’t want you in their stores.

  30. Gias Farin says:

    Love love love this! #droptheplus needs to happen. How about we start calling all these other models ‘undersize’ and see how they like it?

  31. Theresa R Jordan says:

    this is absurd to call anyone model a Plus sized model!! Many women try to lose weight to wear a size 8 and now I’m told that as a size 8 I’d be considered a PLUS SIZE WOMAN!! No way!! DROP THE PLUS SIZE AND BE REALISTIC with what we call the woman wearing these clothes and just call them MODELS BC THATS WHAT THEY ARE JUST MODELS!!

  32. jeff says:

    As a man this is all hyperbole. Men don’t really care about these words that are tossed around, they love the women in their lives regardless. My girlfriend asks me all the time if she’s put on weight. (I hate this question.) I refuse to answer her.
    I tell her that the only person that needs to think about that is her and she should answer the question herself, and for herself. Some times these people that throw these words around need to stop and ask themselves if it matters, because it doesn’t. Everyone is beautiful, maybe if we stopped throwing meaningless words back and forth we would notice.

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