Nb. This started as a follow up to our take 2 on the #droptheplus but ended up like an open letter to all those media outlets ignoring our side of the argument.
There’s an outrage going on. An outrage amongst mainstream media that we call what we perceive as perfectly fit (I say perceive because as a non medical professional I can’t surmise their fitness status) beautiful women, models at that, plus size. Girls a size 12, 14, 16+ labelled plus size… and so a campaign, #droptheplus gathers momentum. Magazines, newspapers and TV shows are nodding furiously, jumping on the bandwagon. ‘Of course we can’t call this girl fat… sorry we mean plus size.’
The counter argument for keeping the terminology in play has been literally swept under the carpet because everywhere fashion editors are kneeling on the floor amongst shouts of ‘think of the children’ as they type feverishly away to hail the end of the term plus size.
But what’s the end game of this campaign? What’s the end fall out?
What will eradicating the term plus size actually achieve?
Yes sorry. Nothing.
Actually that’s not strictly true.
Eradicating the term plus size will set our industry back several years, confuse shoppers, silence a group of women from the media (again), further remind a select group of women that not only is their body wrong but it is no longer deserving of representation or even words and quite possibly leave a massive sector of the modelling industry out of work.
Perhaps this sounds a tad over dramatic so let me break it down for those still wailing in the background there.
With all the hoohah about the term ‘drop the plus’, literally NO ONE is talking about the fact that for many women plus size isn’t a choice they dip in and out of like many plus models. It isn’t a special feature you do in one issue per year, it is everyday living. Plus size women, shop with plus size brands, read plus size blogs and magazines and carry all the stigma the media has heaped on being larger for decades. (Credit to Olivia Campbell – plus size model for raising this in a discussion we had).
Through this an entire fashion subplot has emerged. We have brands, campaigns, bloggers, stylists, magazines, awards, fashion weeks, events and yes… Models. You name it, we have it.
And just like we all know that mainstream fashion slows at a 14 (although where straight stops and plus starts is currently blurred) our industry identifies to its consumers through the term plus size. That is how we know where to shop, what to read etc.
Because whilst you’re outraged by the term you’re not fussed whether brands are making their clothes in all sizes or whether fashion week has no models above a size 8.
You quite happily clap along at the end of Chanel and fawn over Karl Lagerfeld despite his comments about weight, because that’s fashion darling and having worked in fashion I totally get it, but while I’m not over stepping my mark on your side of the field, you, the mainstream media are really beginning to do so on ours.
It is quite easy to feign outrage from your ivory, Prada furbished towers but until you’re demanding sample sizes in a range of sizes, employing models from curve boards to shoot editorials without it being a ‘curve special’, or featuring plus size brands amongst your shopping pages, quite frankly you have literally no leg to stand on. Because you’re inherently part of the reason that #droptheplus can’t work. Ironic that.
We know, we get it, the boundaries of where plus size begins and straight size ends are massively blurred. It has led to a fair amount of confusion as to what constitutes plus size but the fact that we have some/any representation in fashion is fantastic.
When I started SLiNK very few plus models were being given the chance for editorial shoots. They wanted to do the fun creative stuff not just the smiley commercial work, because they wanted similar opportunities to their straight size counterparts. SLiNK, Dare, Plus Model Mag, Skorch we all gave those opportunities to the models that you the mainstream media and fashion elite rejected because we saw that these women had potential, we understood that fashion didn’t stop at a size 8. And we all continue to do that.
But this is our playing field now. Plus size doesn’t have to be a negative tag for women or models. In fact it reminds people that plus size has a wealth to offer the fashion industry too. That we are championing bodies and beauty at all kinds of sizes and by using the tag, by giving it a term in the first place we can allow for more positive associations to take place, saying this plus size model looks amazing reinforces beauty in diversity more so than insisting that this person doesn’t deserve any form of definition or place in fashion.
The bottom line is simple. Until you are truly part of a solution that sees all sizes across the board, you’re part of the problem. Without the plus size industry these models wouldn’t have any work, they wouldn’t be models. So unless your committing to real change and are ready to challenge your own elitist fashion and beauty perceptions head on don’t blindly champion drop the plus. Look at our industry as a whole and be brave enough to open the debate up.