Getting rid of the “Plus Size” label?
Emili Lanno – Copy Editor
As a fashion lover, I am at the mall more than I should be; constantly at clothing stores browsing for the new seasons’ trends. As I walk through Forever 21, I see tons of racks of clothes, with obvious usual sizes, “extra small,” “small,” “medium,” “large” and occasionally “extra large.” A variety of sizes, however, will still only be able to fit a certain body type, mainly sizes two to 12.
But then you look over and in a little corner of the store, there holds a big sign that says “Plus Size.” Where you can find only a small amount of clothing, not even in comparison to the rest of the store. Is there a need for a “Plus Size” corner?
While accommodating clothing for different body sizes seems like a nice thought, retailers and clothing designers are making sizing a black and white issue more than a gray issue. It is said that the average woman sizing is between 12 and 14. For average plus size it starts at 14. This means that we are being defined as either “being the size of the general public” or being “plus size.” What retailers and designers do not understand is not everyone’s body is a perfect proportion that fits into these categories.
One woman might have a smaller bust that will be able to fit into the “regular sizes” but may need a pant size from the “plus size.” Instead of unifying all different body types, we are being taught that you are either one or the other.
Recently, this issue of the plus size label is being strongly addressed in the fashion world where models are considered under this category when they exceed the size of four.
Stefania Ferrario, Australian model and Ajay Rochester, former Australian host of “The Biggest Loser,” have sparked an interest in millions on social media with their campaign “#droptheplus.” Ferraro, who is a size eight and in the modeling industry is in fact considered plus size, posted an almost nude selfie with “I am a woman” written on her stomach in black marker. In the caption of this Instagram picture she wrote, “I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modeling industry if you’re above a U.S. size four you are considered plus size, and so I’m often labelled a ‘plus size’ model. I do NOT find this empowering.”
#droptheplus is part of a bigger movement to reform the fashion industry: I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are automatically labelled a ‘plus size’ model. This is NOT empowering women. Last month @ajayrochester called the industry to task for its use of the term ‘plus size’ by making the point that it is ‘harmful’ and ‘damaging’ to the minds of young girls to call models ‘plus’. The term implies not normal, or bigger than normal, which is false! Let’s #droptheplus in ‘plus size’ altogether and stop labelling women’s sizes, it only causes confusion and segregation. All bodies are beautiful and #labelsareforjars!
Rochester has also taken to Instagram with many selfies of herself as well with “I am a woman” written on places of her body. Since the start of the campaign, many have joined in to stop the labeling of women and to express all body sizes.
As is with many discussions, there were some alternate opinions that went along the “#dropthesize” campaign and idea of dropping the label. Some people believe that although women should not be labeled, they don’t let that label define them. The show and take their body with pride, so whether or not there are labels, they are proud of their bodies regardless.
The term “plus size” or any other label makes the fashion industry seem like individuals are only supposed to fit into a certain category. That person needs to have a specific body shape and it is either one or the other. As a community women, and men of course, should be able to feel unified, without having to walk into a clothing store and have that label right in front of them.
Should the label “plus size” be washed away forever or should we be comfortable in our skin enough to not let those labels define us?
Photo Credit: Ari Moore