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.”
What does it want to achieve?
- The labels “plus” and “plus size” removed from the fashion industry and removed from the media reporting on it.
- 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.
- Models of all sizes to be used consistently, without misleading labels.
The response to #droptheplus has been amazing! The traditional media, social media and personal messages have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive of the movement.
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.