#DropThePlus – People need to feel connected, drop the plus and you drop the connection

#DropThePlus is set to tell fashion industry bosses to cut ‘plus size’, but sometimes segregation is just a stepping stone to integration.


A size 12 Australian model has spoken out on instagram in support of Ajay Rochester, who feels that the fashion industry should stop using the term “plus size” to describe models. She argues that models should just be models, models should be all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, something which I can’t disagree on. People are all different shapes, sizes and ethnicities; having models that don’t represent people makes no sense to me.

When I’m shopping, I see clothes that I like in shop windows but they’re on models that don’t have a similar body to me. Those clothes look good on his body, but on mine? Maybe not so much. If your body is bigger, or smaller, or wider, or longer or in any way different to the person modelling the clothes, you’re gonna have problems figuring out whether that particular pair of jeans or t shirt would look good on your body, whether it suits you.

While I’m pro-equality, I don’t see diversity within the industry as the driving force and although it’s an important factor and would in turn benefit across society, I think the fashion industry owe us, the consumer, the right to be sold a product aimed at us, not just a product that looks good when it’s on a certain type of body.

The reality is, most people don’t look like models. That’s why they’re not models. That concept is one that’s confused me for a while, if models don’t look like normal people then why are they showing normal people what their clothes won’t look like? I’d much rather people show me what the clothes might actually look like when they’re on me than on some eightteen year old that’s about 4 sizes smaller than me and a foot taller. It’s unhelpful, it’s unhelpful to me and since most people don’t really looks like models, it’s got to be pretty unhelpful to most people.

But should we call plus size plus size? For now, we need to. It allows people to belong to something, it allows people to identify with something that previously didn’t include them. It gives people the confidence to be that thing, to stand together and be seen. The more people who feel able to be seen, the more the rest of society will see. The more people that see, the more it becomes ‘normal’ and the segregation falls away.

I’ve seen a surge of bloggers in recent years use the term ‘plus size’, and with that people unite and build confidence. People who don’t fit that ‘regular’ idea of what’s good may have previously hid their bodies or tried to conform, now people have other things which are also just as good, something they are a part of and can be proud of being a part of it.

Philip Green, the boss at Arcadia (Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Evans) has said that “You can’t be defensive about it, or apologise about [plus-size fashion]. Why should the category be any different from petite?” and I agree, there’s nothing to apologise for. And sometimes it’s hard to draw a line between segregation and offering choice, my initial reaction to this comment was “so why not integrate Evans in to Top Shop and Dotty P’s?” but then again, why would everyone want to shop at the same shop?

Until recently I was a size large to extra large, mostly in the XL range. I’m now medium to large, mostly in the medium rage, but my physique still doesn’t suit skinny jeans, nor should I be ashamed of that. In Primark, I’m faced with a limited amount of clothes that actually suit me, my personality and my body. I don’t fit into that idea of ‘what’s good’ because quite frankly I don’t want to, because I don’t like it. People are different, and we should be allowed to be different and enjoy that; if retailers would offer choice for a broad range of people, as a customer I’d be happy and in turn, that’d open the market to a wider range of models who may actually be able to more accurately sell clothes based on appropriate body types, rather than the item itself.

I went to Liverpool for an event a few weeks ago and as I walked out of the Liverpool One car park I was greeted by a Jacamo store. A brand aimed at ‘plus size’ men modelled by people who look more like the average man, albeit rather good looking ones. Not complaining. This is great, I went in and looked around for a while, comfortable in the fact that it was a fashion store where I was welcome. Having something that’s aimed at you in a world where you’re made to feel like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t fit the norm is really quite good. I don’t think this would’ve happened if it wasn’t for people standing up and being heard.

Plus size is a term that for many has been claimed, and it’s being used in a positive way to send a positive message. It’s being used by people who are bigger than the average and it’s doing great things. I can’t help but think that the Australian model supporting the drop perhaps doesn’t relate to ‘plus size’ because quite obviously she isn’t. She’s a smaller size than the UK average, so to consider her a ‘plus size’ model isn’t particularly accurate but that doesn’t mean that plus size needs to cease to exist, the barriers just need to be moved. The barriers will only move if they’re in place. There’s certainly a host of other barriers that need to be moved too, but they need to be addressed, they need people to unite within them, stand up and rock it.

I agree that models should just be models, and indeed humans should just be humans, but that’s the end goal, that’s something that happens over long periods of time, as opinions and perceptions slowly begin to change. And I don’t think scrapping a label that does empower a lot of people will achieve that, just because it makes some average people feel a bit fat.

By: Mark Ashton, Blogger, Writer and Student with an interest in law, politics, music and equality 
Twitter: @Markeiboi

Student Voices

#DropThePlus – People need to feel connected, drop the plus and you drop the connection #DropThePlus – People need to feel connected, drop the plus and you drop the connection Reviewed by Admin on 08:00 Rating: 5

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