Bitch please
Giving you my best ‘bitch, please’ face

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 labelled 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.

  • EXACTLY! I don’t have a problem with the term at all. It helps keep me informed on where I can shop. When stores don’t use that term or anything similar, I have no idea that they carry my sizes.

  • LOVE this piece! It is so disingenuous to accept the fruits of the plus size movement while publicly disclaiming the term. I don’t need a euphemism for my size; I need the stigma around the word dropped.

  • stacey

    Sarah thank you for writing this. I personally know one of the women behind the “Drop the plus”campaign and she struggles to fit in LA and accept her size. As one of the founders of Lola Getts ,we are so thrilled to embrace the plus size community by offering a product exclusively for the 67% of American women who wear size 14 or larger. The plus community needs to embrace and support brands that are happy to cater to them. Too much energy is focused on whether or not your plus enough or not, instead let’s focus on changing the perception of plus size by the media, businesses and people in general.

  • Plus, Fat, as long as they aren’t using it in a degrading matter

  • Chris

    I can see her side (seriously? if she’s plus size, then I’m airplane size…), but I think it’s a matter of adjusting standards. I’d love to see mainstream plus size models in that 12-14+ range. Calling someone who is a size 8 plus size can be damaging when you think about the standards it sets. However, that doesn’t mean the label itself should go…

  • Elle

    Exactly. I gushed about this same issue a few days ago! Plus =/= derogatory.

  • Z_Lauren_Z

    Agree with your agreement 😉

    When I visit a site or store I automatically assume it will NOT have anything that fits me so I look for the “plus size” link or just walk up to a sales associate and ask: “where is / do you carry plus sizes?”

  • YOU BETTER SAY THAT SHIT. I have been seething, trying to get all the words out and you just said everything i needed to. YES HONEY YES> YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  • Yeassss Yeaassss Yeeaaasss!!! I was slapped in the face by this “campaign.” Thank YOU for putting it in to such PERFECT words that covers ALL the bases.

  • Pamela Mcdonald

    I am the owner of CHUNKEE MONKEY https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chunkee-Monkey/732747110129915 WHICH IS PLUS SIZE MODELS, I DO NOT TAKE OFFENCE TO THE TERM PLUS BUT INSTEAD EMBRACE IT. I LOVE MYSELF EXACTLY THE WAY I AM.

  • Shainna Tucker

    Man look…yes to ALL of this. You literally said everything I was thinking.

  • Pam Shainhouse

    Stacey, as the founder Allistyle I agree with all of you. I want the Allistyle, the Lola Getts, and any other woman to feel beautiful in their skin, no matter who they are. Thank you Sarah, for saying it well.

  • Seola

    Here is one of the issues I have – the model (Stefania Ferrario) has referred to her size as ALL OVER THE PLACE. In one article, she claims she’s an 8 (if she’s an 8, then I’m Cleopatra – she’s gorgeous but let’s not act like we don’t know clothing sizes), in another she claims a size 12 and another a size 14. A size 14 IS a “plus size”. The average size has been creeping upwards (and that’s okay!) but still hovers just over size 8. One of the reasons I like plus size is that I A) know there might be an extra charge for more material – as there should be and B) that there IS extra material and I won’t be shoving my hips into Spandex to get into a dress that is just scaled up rather than plus sized.

  • They pitched this press release to Chubstr as well, and though I get the overall idea, it still feels weird to me. I agree with @fayeatwater:disqus – plus size, big & tall, fat – as long as it’s not being used in a derogatory manner, if you’re happy with it, use it. For some of us, those terms are empowering. All that aside – we still need descriptors like plus size for a lot of other reasons.