Six days ago, a press release for a campaign called #DropThePlus landed in my inbox. Although I typically ignore movements that lean on plus size in an attempt to gain publicity, the conversation has finally risen to a level that I can no longer ignore. Here’s the gist: #DropThePlus was started by an Australian actress who believes that the label plus size is ‘damaging for the minds of young girls’. Say what?
Furthering the conversation, a model supporting the campaign told Refinery29, “I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modeling industry if you’re above a U.S. size 4 you are considered plus-size, and so I’m often labeled a ‘plus-size’ model. I do NOT find this empowering.” But guess what? I do, and so do many other women who have been working tirelessly to change how plus size people are perceived.
On one hand, I can see how it would be beneficial to a model to be perceived as simply a model and eligible for more opportunities beyond those exclusively presented by the plus size industry. Do I think these women should be in editorials in every major magazine? Absolutely. But eliminating the label ‘plus size’ because it is damaging to self-esteem only serves to further separate working plus size models from the women they are hired to represent. As if women over a size 14 aren’t marginalized enough.
There’s a reason that plus size women wearing bikinis gained so much media attention. It’s a bold move to be unapologetically fat in public. I’ve had people refuse to sit next to me on flights, say the most disgusting things to me in public, and treat me like I don’t even deserve to be alive because of my weight. It is a struggle that I deal with every single day and will always, no matter my size, be an ever-present battle in my life.
But through my acceptance and support of the word plus size, I have found a supportive community of women who overcome these same obstacles. We understand what it’s like to be pushed to the outer limits of society because of our size. We come together on Instagram hashtags, on Twitter, and in the comments section of blog posts featuring our big, beautiful bodies. We know that everyone is on their own journey and we are here to support everyone along the way.
Furthermore, the term plus size, while nothing more than descriptive, serves a business function in the same way that ‘petite’ does. Without a label, however unfortunate, we wouldn’t know that a brand has something to offer us in our size. Since we cannot simply walk (or click) into any store and buy clothing that fits, we need to be shown where we are welcome.
Because of the work of plus size women (yes, that’s right) to gain support and visibility, plus size models have more work than ever. Just look at the rebirth of ELOQUII, a brand that was shuttered by The Limited and brought back by investors who saw a tremendous business opportunity thanks to the power of our community. As our voices grow louder, more businesses have (and will continue) to cater to plus size women, and as a result, the opportunities for plus size models will continue to grow. We are entering an era of size revolution and body diversity. Have you heard?
This industry is supported by a social revolution and we welcome everyone, no matter their size, to join us. To put it frankly, ladies, don’t sh*t where you eat. Join us at the table and make some noise.