Let’s Drop the Plus

The first week of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week finished on February 19 in New York City. I had watched the shows online with rapt attention as designers expressed their creativity and innovation through fashion. Soon after, I saw a post with the hashtag, #droptheplus. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I became too focused on school work to look into it further, which is something I regret doing. Had I researched more, I would have immediately jumped in to support the campaign. A month later, however, I saw the hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and in a Buzzfeed article, demanding attention across all social media.

This campaign, created by Australian reality TV star Ajay Rochester and model Stefania Ferrario, is asking the modeling and retail world to get rid of the term “plus-size”. The smallest size to be considered as plus in the fashion world is a six. When I found this out, I started looking into the other sizes of women both in and out of modeling to get some context. Many models are a smaller size and the average size for women outside of fashion is 14. As I’m thinking about these different sizes and #droptheplus’s mission, I agree that there shouldn’t be significance in labeling someone as plus-size or not.

Ajay Rochester, who is the former host of Australia’s The Biggest Loser, was compelled to start this campaign because she believes there’s danger in using the label “plus-size” in fashion. She wrote on her blog, “It’s dangerous thinking and dangerous labeling and it’s outdated. We don’t label anyone else that way: chef and plus-sized chef, comedian and plus-sized comedian, doctor and plus-sized doctor, teacher and plus-sized teacher. So why models and/or women? We are humans, we come in all shapes and sizes.”

Lingerie model, Ferrario is a UK size 12. In February, she posted a photo of herself on Instagram. She had written on her bare stomach, “I AM A MODEL”.  Accompanying the photo, Ferrario wrote:

“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!”

Many other Australian models support this campaign. Among them is Robyn Lawley, size 12, who is considered the first plus-sized model to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In an interview with Time magazine, she said, “I don’t know if I consider myself as a plus-size model or not. I just consider myself a model because I’m trying to help women in general accept their bodies.” She went on to recollect the beginning of her career. “When I started my career 10 years ago, I had to painfully go to castings and people would look at you and say, ‘What the hell are you doing here?’…I want to be there for the regular girls who are my size.”

Well Robyn is definitely a great role model for women all across the world. I really admire her perception of her body and the dedication she’s showing to promote a self-loving image.

When I first learned of #droptheplus campaign, I thought, this is really interesting. Many movements today are inspiring women to accept their size and create a positive relationship with their body image. #droptheplus wants to negate the label altogether. While I believe that accepting our image and our size is essential, I believe the #droptheplus campaign is sending a similar message in addition to eliminating the distinction between plus and not plus. #droptheplus doesn’t want women to feel as though they’re overweight because they’re plus-sized. They want women to feel like a human, a woman who is proud of her body no matter the size. There is no difference between someone who’s size 4 and  someone who’s size 14. Yes, there is a difference physically, but inside there’s not. We’re all women with hopes, dreams and aspirations. We’re intelligent, humorous, passionate and compassionate. All of the inner qualities that make up a person are what’s important and we should love ourselves by our character and not what we look like.

All in all, I hope this campaign takes off even further. This is a positive message for not only women, but men too. It says that we should love our bodies exactly as they are and we should realize that size doesn’t dictate our confidence. We all have power as individuals. #droptheplus!

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