#KeepThePlus: 30 Reasons Why We Should KEEP Using The Term “Plus Size”
The topic of whether or not to keep or drop the term “plus size” has been debated for a few years now.
Just when it seems as if the debate over the term has quieted down, it makes a comeback.
This time, the debate has returned, thanks to actress Amy Schumer firing back at Glamour Magazine for using her name on the cover of their recent supplemental issue sponsored by Lane Bryant and geared towards plus size women.
While Amy never said she hates the term in her original statement (she just said she is not plus size and she’s not — she’s a size 6/8), the story went viral and again, we hear all about how the term “plus size” is a negative one and should be done away with.
We’ve talked about it ourselves many times (click here) with our most recent article, almost a month ago, talking to the history of the word and how it has grown to be more than a descriptor.
Many of us wear it as a badge of honor. We built our own community around the term and made it a positive. However. the term is still seen as negative despite that.
So, instead of us writing yet another article, citing the importance of the term and its need in our industry, we decided to go within the plus community and ask what they think.
The media tends to interview those models who are under a size 14 or those celebrities who are not fully immersed in the plus size world and community. With the average American woman being a size 14 and Hollywood having its own size standards, their experiences are much different than those of us who are an integral part of the industry. We saw this as an opportunity to speak to those women who are a part of the plus industry and hear how they feel about a term that has caused so much debate.
Here’s 30 reasons why we should keep using the term “plus size” courtesy of models, designers, stylists, bloggers and others within the PLUS community:
“I just don’t see how getting rid of it actually helps. Yes, if this was a PERFECT world, we would not need a special term. However, that is not our reality. I am PROUD to identify as a plus size woman. No shame in my game. I have been fat since the third grade. I am 48 now. This is who I am. And I am proud.”
“There is an entire industry built around the word ‘plus’. The ‘plus’ industry has birthed an abundant amount of blogs, events, celebrities and an unspoken camaraderie among women with different backgrounds. For that reason alone, I support the use of the word ‘plus’. To those against using the word, I say this: create an industry of individuals to market your brand to and let me know how loyal they’ll be to your cause. The individuals who are in favor of denouncing the term have benefited from the term more than those who consistently stand up for the term, yet they remain clueless. This entire conversation is not only eye-opening, but it’s quite sad.”
“By embracing the term ‘plus size’, we can begin to create more inclusive and diverse body positive communities where we can celebrate our beauty and style in a safe place, easily accessible and represented in the same way straight size women are. The term ‘plus size’ is not derogatory and we need to stop treating it as such. The plus size women who have fought so hard for visibility and a presence in the fashion world have inspired others to realize how far we have come and how far we still have to go in our fight for body inclusion and they did it by using the label ‘plus size’. To dismiss this term would be dismissing our history and how hard the plus size woman has fought for her place in it!”
“I don’t feel the term ‘plus size’ can be dropped until there is full inclusivity for all within fashion. Until the industry completely opens its doors to people of all shapes and sizes and provides access to clothing across the board in all sizes, plus size women will need to know where ‘plus size’ is accessible. Until we can all walk in all stores and buy whatever we want, we will always need to label individual areas. I don’t feel ‘plus size’ is a bad term; it’s just a necessary marker to guide us through the shopping/fashion experience.”
“Keeping the term ‘plus size’ is important to identify a sector of the fashion industry. As a stylist, it’s used to describe a type of designer, model or clothing line. It’s just a descriptor to me and needed for my line of work. I’m proud to be plus size because I’m proud of who I am. I am a black, plus size woman from Brooklyn, NY. That’s just who I am!!! I don’t have any apologies or make excuses for any of the labels I use to describe myself. The problem is not with pride but the negative feeling you may have toward the word.”
“Until we live in a utopian society where all the designers in the world get a clue and start making clothes for all, ‘Plus’ must stay. As a straight size woman – I personally do not have the authority to state whether or not plus size women should identify with the term (or any other term) but it seems overwhelmingly apparent that it’s a word plus size women have taken back, away from any negative connotation – and created an empowering community around. Why would you want to remove that?”
“The term ‘plus size’ doesn’t bother me, it’s just a term to describe clothing and has nothing to do with me or my personality. We have struggled to get more choices and options in plus size fashion; finally we are seeing a change. Why are we going to change the term, just to please a few ‘plus size models’? Plus size is just a section in a store to find clothes that fit my beautiful body. I am proud to be plus size, because it has taken me years to love myself for who I am NOW regardless of my weight or the size of my clothing. Being plus size is just a word, it doesn’t define my life or my accomplishments.”
“Keeping the term ‘plus’ means standing for something. Plus models, bloggers and magazines all have used the term PLUS to get to where they are now. In an industry that has chosen in the past to set us aside, we should chose to stand united. We ARE plus and there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s empowering, it’s a title I choose to use proudly!”
“As a plus model and editor of a plus size magazine, I think it’s absolutely important and necessary to #keeptheplus to identify us as a group in a positive way. If you enter a store, being plus sized, how exactly will you identify your section? What is the deal of being called ‘plus size’? It’s what we are and how models are identified to a particular size group. I totally understand this pointless fight if they were calling us ‘monster models’, ‘disgusting models’ but no, they are calling us what we are: plus size. What is the deal? You build a brand and earn money from the ‘plus’ tag and now it’s bothering you? If this is your case, I think you are the one with the problem, and I know many will agree with me! I am a plus model; it’s how I earn my money and it doesn’t bother me at all!”
“The term ‘plus’ is just like petite and tall. It’s a distinction in clothing, like male and female. As a plus woman, I need to know where I can shop. It’s only beneficial to those that are trying to expand their careers past the stigma of being labeled as plus. This would not be an issue if we can attack the true issue at hand, which is inclusion. Once plus clothing is able to be found in every retail store, then I can see the need to remove the label. Trying to stop mid-progress is self serving. We haven’t won the battle yet. And again, the true battle is inclusion and equal representation. As we see, having an African American president didn’t resolve racial issues, a plus model on Maxim or removing the term ‘plus’ doesn’t resolve the true ‘plus’ issues. We have more options today than 20 years ago but there are plus designers, plus clothing lines and plus retailers and they are majority limited to size 22/24 so it’s still an exclusion there.
Plus is who I am. I’m a mother, I’m an editor, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a plus woman. I love my body, the extras… not flaws.”
“I began modeling about 6 1/2 years ago when plus size modeling wasn’t as popularized as it is now. I think it’s incredible to see such movement over the last few years with more and more brands incorporating various sizes as well as adding plus size lines to their stores that may not have existed before. The issue I feel people are not looking at is the overall consequence of dropping the term ‘plus size’. It would be a step backwards, not forward. For example, the plus size industry created a sense of inclusion for women, a sense of fashion identity that for many years women felt like were being left out and rejected. I was a size 22 in my teenage years so I very much identify with this feeling.
While brands are jumping on board to be more inclusive in many ways, there are still those that choose not to. In order to drop the plus completely, every department store, every designer house and brand across the world would have to be openly inclusive in their sizing for all women at every size. We would have to see great diversity at all designer fashion shows and fashion weeks.
I’m so proud to be a plus size model and what it represents. While it’s not easy at times having to explain what it really means, it has given me the chance to model and show clothing for all body types, which means the world to me. Growing up where there was very little fashionable clothing available to me, it’s a feeling I never want any of my readers to ever have to go through. This is one of the reasons that I hold the plus size industry so close to my heart.”
“I embraced the term ‘PLUS’ many years ago. When I was in elementary school, I remember wanting to be a ballerina. Although I wasn’t overweight, my body structure just wasn’t that of a ballerina. I was naturally muscular, had full breasts, and was taller than most of the boys in my class. I remember the ballet instructor telling me that I would never be small enough to be a ballerina and even if I was, It would kill me to force my body to be something it never wanted to be. That was the first time in my life I ever felt ugly and ashamed of my figure, I think I was 8 yrs old. I remember crying to my Grandmother that I needed to tape my breasts down and get my body thinner so I could be a ballerina. My grandmother said, ‘Girl, these big bones and full bodies are the strength of the women in this family; they were passed down to you in your blood.’ She told me the story of my body. She talked about how I had her mother’s eyes, her sister’s broad shoulders, her cousin’s hips, and the breasts of every woman in the family. Something about that talk made me so proud that I was connected in this unique way with the women in my family. We were meant to be PLUS. The next day, I put my little wonder woman bra on so proudly and never looked back again on wanting to be something that my body wasn’t. My body is the history of all the women I come from. The industry has categorized me as ‘apple shaped’, ‘slim tush’, ‘busty’, ‘PLUS’ and YES, I am all of these things. However, I have been all of these things long before the industry decided to ‘discover’ my body.”
“The fact that the #DropThePlus campaign is even happening should be a larger conversation around privilege, intersectionality and media influence. What is it about the word ‘plus’ that REALLY makes you want to disassociate yourself from it? What makes the #DropThePlus movement dangerous and dismissive as it claims to reflect all women’s and girls’ experiences and aspirations? But, does not include or speak to all of the women and girls who DO find self-confidence, empowerment, community in or identify as ‘Plus Size’.”
“Plus size is a business term that is already soooo established. If you’re TRULY comfortable in your own skin, you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Yes, we have curves, but it’s usually the women who are on the edge of plus and straight-sized that are trying push this whole ‘curvy’ thing. If these people believe they can get an entire industry to change their motto, then that’s funny to me. People get labelled for their jobs all the time. For example, when I worked for a hospital before I started modeling, my title was a ‘Patient Coordinator’ but in reality, I was a coordinator, a receptionist, a transcriptionist, my doctor’s personal assistant, etc. Unfortunately, the job title of ‘Superhuman’ wasn’t available. This is what I mean about a labeled business term that doesn’t define us, but just gives a company or an industry, a word to sum us up. What I do know for sure, is the more this faded topic is floating in the water, the more relevant issues we face in our industry is sinking to the bottom of the sea. And to my fellow models out there that keep resurrecting this insignificant issue, please stop. Let’s fight for issues like more exposure in fashion, more plus size models to appear in mainstream magazines and editorials, promoting straight-sized designers to make clothes for all sizes, etc. Talk about these issues, Girls! It’s not making us look good to potential clients, to the fashion industry in general, and most importantly, the girls looking up to us that are in fact plus size. You are confusing them. It’s like you’re proud to be plus, but to a certain extent. My biggest issue with this is, they’re making the term ‘plus size’ sound like a dirty word or something. I am a plus size woman and model. I am always so proud to say ‘I’m a plus size model’. To me, it embodies confidence, strength, self-love and beauty. A woman being proud of what she looks like, no matter what society deems to be ideal. I am and always will be #plusandproud.”
“Every community or group of people are recognized by name, why should the plus size community be any different? The plus label is not a way to exclude us, it is a way to connect us to one another. The plus label is painted and worn with pride by women who love themselves and dare to live out loud despite what society says. It is not one to be worn in shame and should not be dropped because some women are uncomfortable or feel that they have outgrown it. There are too many women who have finally found peace and positivity in the plus for it to be dropped.”
“When I think of the term plus size, I think of it as an identifier when shopping. For me, it is not a term I deem as negative. When shopping, it allows me to shop with 90% confidence that there is something in my size. Whether or not it fits well, that is something completely different.
I’m a myriad of descriptions and just so happens ‘plus’ is in there as well. Doesn’t take away from being a black woman who is a daughter, friend and shopaholic that can make you laugh. I’m proud to be who I am. In an ideal world, there would be no descriptions, but let’s face it, we as human beings categorize everything. The issue is when you are not being represented and told who you are is a problem.”
“The only reason why some people want to drop the plus is because they believe the negative connotations surrounding the word. For some, plus size means fat and we all know what fat means in this society… lazy, greedy, sloppy, disgusting. Being fat seems to be one of the worst things you can be. Some might argue that using a term like plus size perpetuates the negativity because it separates and classifies. It makes people feel like they’re an “other” and while I understand that argument, we need to think about our society as it stands today.
Dropping the plus won’t make people stop bullying fat people or make designers care more about plus size fashion. Dropping the plus won’t force the media to discontinue perpetuating fat stereotypes or force companies to stop harmful advertising practices that perpetuate diet culture and unrealistic body standards. BUT, if prominent plus size celebrities would actually embrace the plus, they would send a strong message by changing the meaning of the words, associating it from being negative to positive. Words like healthy, beauty, strength, and perseverance. Imagine the impact on young women struggling with their bodies if Ashley Graham would have said on Ellen, ‘Yes, I’m plus size, and proud! There is nothing wrong with that label… I embrace it because it doesn’t mean I am unhealthy or less worthy of mainstream modeling opportunities, love, or happiness. It just means there’s more of me to love! It’s not me that needs to change, it’s society’s thinking about what those word means!‘ How powerful would that have been? How many young women would have seen themselves in that statement and felt more confident and worthy? We need to keep the plus, if only to use our platforms to reverse the negativity associated with the words and uplift the 67% of women in this country who that term applies to.”
“The term ‘plus size’ is a descriptor that people above a size 14 use to find clothing in their size. Despite the majority of women in American being a size 14+, it is still challenging to find plus size clothing especially in physical stores. I can understand why certain models and celebrities don’t want to be called plus size because they are privileged enough to not understand the struggle and discrimination that actual fat bodies face. But ignoring this struggle and saying that we don’t need these labels distracts that fact that while plus size models may feel like they are fighting to be just seen as models, actual fat individuals are fighting for their humanity. I am proud to be plus size and use that term along with the term fat because it’s not a dirty word. It’s a word that describes my body. Words have the power that we give them. I give the word plus size the power to unite those of us fighting for equality in fashion.”
“My association with the term ‘Plus Size’ has always been neutrally inclusive. Growing up, I was fortunate to witness beautiful representations of my similar body type in my daily life. These women, mainly my mom, exuded this warm, gracious confidence that demanded the rooms attention with just their presence.
My first experience of actually conceptualizing the variants of sizes, ‘plus sizes’ in particular, was around the age of 13. While shopping with my mom, she asked me to grab a pair of “Queen Sized” pantyhose from the hosiery section of the department store. To me, the label itself made perfect sense because my mom is a Queen. With this perception of sizing, I aspired to one day wear my own Queen Sized pantyhose; I envisioned it to be something like my crowning day.
However, if you were to read some the Drop the Plus commentary you would think being called Plus Size is a derogatory term that sets you and your family back generations from making any real social or economic progress within society. It’s truly a spectacle to watch how these conversations of Drop/Keep the plus unfold, so if I may be completely honest…
From my perspective, I typically see a certain group of individuals with an assured level of privilege fighting to Drop the Plus; it may be because throughout their lives they have operated without association to any particular identity, but once they’re given a label like plus size, their responses are somewhat hostile, as if the term plus size is oppressive. When in all actuality, it is the mainstream media and fashion industry that hold the power to oppress, not the term.
In my opinion, a more proactive approach to actually empower people would be to embrace the beauty in being plus size and add that to the conversation to help normalize the term. Relatively speaking, I’m a black woman, there are negative connotations linked with both words ‘black’ and ‘woman’, but I can’t just create a hashtag like #DropTheBlack or #DropTheWoman and that will rid minds of all undesirable associations. The world will still see me as a black woman… Comparatively, media and the fashion industry will still call us plus size. We all should just be the same inspiration that my mom was for me, and show that there is nothing wrong with being called Plus Sized.
I’ll just #KeepThePlus, slay, and repeat for the young women who are just as impressionable as I once was.”
“Personally, I’m tired of the discussion – I don’t say that to be rude. I just really don’t understand why people can’t be okay with it. Calling me plus size is like calling me a blonde, both are true statements that describe my appearance. If we continue to let descriptors bother us, we’re succumbing to the idea that being larger is a bad thing. I’m owning it and you should too!”
“How could Plus Size ever be a negative when there’s a plus in front if it?
I’ve always been plus size. Many tried to influence me growing up that I had to be a certain size to fit in. I believed it for a long time. One day, I realized that being curvy wasn’t a negative… being curvy was what made me ME. I embrace my plus size frame to the fullest and accept all of me because being yourself is what it’s all about. Be Confident, Be Unique, Be Radiant, Be Vivacious and most importantly Be Yourself.”
“I understand why some may want to drop the plus because to them they feel it promotes inclusivity but at the end of the day, it’s just a word. It doesn’t change how people see me and it won’t change our fashion houses’ design. It is however a word that has defined me most of my life and I am no longer ashamed of this (it took me a while to get there..but I’m not). I struggle with this because we were told most of our lives that we are plus size, fat, curvy, chubby, bigboned, etc and now you want me to separate myself from that word. That word has become a part of my identity. It’s why I am unique and different from the other people around me. I don’t look at it as a weakness anymore – being plus size has created opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten – being plus size is a big chapter in my life’s story. I wear it with pride and conviction.”
“I have to admit in the past, I used to feel a certain type of way about the word ‘plus’. I used to think it set me further apart from other people and that I was out there standing on my own. This all changed for me when I found the support and camaraderie within the Plus Community. I began to see people just like me in magazines, on TV, all over social media and they were happy, sexy, and proud to be Plus. Now I am forever grateful to have this family and am quite frankly honored to be on a team of strong, powerful, beautiful PLUS women. I do not want to remove the Plus; all I want is to remove any negative connotation attached to it. I think by celebrities wanting to distance themselves from the word they are just furthering the negative stigma behind it, which we have all fought so hard to remove. Plus Size is not a negative term.
As far as Amy Schumer is concerned, I am very angered that her backlash at Glamour Magazine has gone publicly viral. Her words are doing more harm than good. The headlines are reading, ‘Amy does not want to be called Plus’, ‘Amy is not plus size’ and so on. All these stories and posts are making it more shameful to actually be Plus. I think as someone who has made her career off of being the big girl in LA, she shouldn’t be so quick to throw shade! No problem Amy, we don’t need you to be associated with us, we are doing just fine out here on our own. We will keep our Plus proud and positive.”
My whole life, I have been plus size. When I was younger, I totally resisted my 5’10 and very broad frame. I was just bigger than everyone else. I always dreamed of being petite and small like the women I saw on TV and magazines. I thought I was just overweight and was on diet pills as a freshman in high school. At that time, I started my first retail job working for a local Dressbarn. My experience there was life changing. I got to interact with so many different women there, some could wear clothes from both sections but realistically would refuse to go into the plus size section. Even when they loved a dress, they would not try it on because it was plus size. This was a very eye opening experience for me as a teenager because I had this same problem, too.
My experience working there slowly opened me up to be receptive of the term. I would always gravitate towards helping younger plus size customers and it made me feel extremely fulfilled, mainly because I was like them. I remember breaking down in tears in dressing rooms because my tag said ‘size 16’. When I started talking to these young girls and helping them pick out a dress for an event, you could see how much their attitude changed being around a positive environment of people dedicated to helping women of all sizes feel beautiful.
I find myself now in dressing rooms with other plus size women who look uncomfortable and I strike up conversations with them telling them how awesome they look. Many times, they think they can’t pull it off when they definitely can. I also find shopping in plus size exclusive stores is fun; there’s really a true sense of community in stores like Torrid and Lane Bryant. While in the dressing room, I noticed other customers will start conversations with you about the common struggles with our clothes we face everyday. Sometimes different people have solutions.
My managers at Dressbarn were always telling me how beautiful I was and that I should pursue modeling. I always thought there was no way I could be a model because I was too big. But when they informed me that there was a such thing as plus size modeling, I thought I was even too big to do that. But it wouldn’t hurt to try. Now I’m signed with MSA Models.
I feel so much positivity and community around the term ‘plus size’. Knowing that I can go into a store, ask for the section and be directed to the area with my selections is helpful as well.
Telling people to get rid of the term ‘plus size’ goes back to the fear of something being wrong with being plus size. Like there’s some sort of shame in it. I’m not ashamed, but I have been before. Now I fully embrace the term as something that used to hold me back in fear but is now something I can celebrate with other women who look like me.”
“I, for one, embrace words like ‘plus size’ and ‘fat’… they describe my body like the words ‘thin’ or ‘slender’ describe other bodies. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Professor Dumbledor says ‘Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself’. I believe those who want to drop those terms are not as size/body positive as they profess to be and are actually afraid or ashamed of being fat.
Dropping those terms will, once again, increase the fear of fat bodies just when acceptance of them is gaining ground. We can’t let that happen. #ProudToBePlus”
“I don’t identify with the term plus size. I’m a fat activist. Clothing is one of many areas of my life affected by weight prejudice. People of all genders experience fat oppression, not just people who shop for plus size clothing. So the term doesn’t serve me when I want to identify as a fat person or address the mistreatment that fat people face in the world. I came out as a fat person a long time ago and don’t have any interest in closet-y or euphemistic terms for my weight. As much as I want people of all sizes to have plenty of clothes of all varieties to buy, I notice that we are segregated apart from so-called straight sizes and so the word for that, as positively as it may be used, carries with it that fact of being excluded. That said, when statistically average-size models whose careers are happening in the so-called plus clothing industry say they don’t want to be called ‘plus’ or that they don’t want labels, it sounds like they don’t want to be called fat… which is obviously objectionable. It also sounds like they want to avoid all the difficult work of challenging individual and systemic weight prejudice by saying, ‘Poof, there, it doesn’t exist any more.’ And for them, at their size, that might be true. But they’d be stepping over fatter people to get there. I look forward to the day when people of all sizes will be able to buy clothes from the same general supply. And I mean *all* sizes. People created this biased system and we can create a new system. I applaud everyone who’s working in plus clothing or fatshion for getting us there sooner.”
“The term ‘plus size’ has been a consistent, inclusive, and unquestionably positive term for me. Plus size is a sector of the fashion industry that was demanded, shaped, and developed for people like me. Women and men who are limited in the places they can shop, create, and exist knowing that the space they’re occupying was created for them to enjoy. We should keep the term ‘plus size’ to remind those individuals that they are welcome to exist in fashion and in the world beyond that! Until that is common knowledge, I will continue to demand and defend the term plus size.”
#29: Natasha Nurse, PLUS Model Magazine Lifestyle Editor & Owner of Dressing Room 8
“I have been plus size my entire life. It was plus size fashion that saved me from continuing to doubt, bully, and dislike myself. Should we drop the #plus? No, we should not. Plus size bodies and shapes are different than straight size women. That is a fact of life. What should we do? Push the #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies movement each and every day, through plus size designers, bloggers, magazines, social media campaigns, and industry leaders. Girls and women need reaffirmation to love and appreciate the skin that they are in. The conversation should not be about dropping #plus, but when will our society learn that beauty is shapeless, colorless, size-less, and ageless?”
“I am coming to this as a self identified woman who was told by one of my mentors that the world is our runway. I was 18 when I had the opportunity to be a plus size model on a runway. Yes, we acknowledge the difference and that we are fierce in that difference. Yes, clothing silhouettes, undergarments, etc, were always part of it but there is nothing with naming a piece of who you are in a positive, ‘Plus’, kind of way. We always added to the mix. Plus size models always call attention to the difference in bodies so why wouldn’t we want that? Dropping the plus doesn’t detract, it adds and expands. And I am here for it. I am a mom of a child with Down Syndrome and one of the campaigns for awareness states that we are more alike than different. I wonder why we continue to strive for the same when we could live in a technicolor of difference? I strut through this world, accepting me and all this plus body I am serving up and would have no other way. The industry is not a melting pot; it is a gumbo, and plus size adds the seasoning to make fashion and women feel delicious!”
As these 30 responses show, there is no shame in being plus size. The issue is not with the term but with how the mainstream fashion industry views it. The issue is the shame and stigma tied to it. The issue is the way it is used in the modeling/fashion industry where women under a size 14 are deemed plus size, when they are not.
To the #DropThePlus individuals: Before dismissing a term, two important questions should be asked:
— Are you truly plus size?
— Or is the industry telling you that you are plus size?
If you’re not plus size, why are you campaigning to do away with a term that other women who are actually plus, identify with? Perhaps your mission should be to change how the industry perceives plus sizes and decides what sizes are plus, to cater to their own belief on what bodies are marketable to the mainstream.
You are free to use any term or label to describe yourself. Ultimately, it is up to the individual on what term/label they embrace, if any. But campaigning to do away with a term that you personally don’t want to use is speaking for the masses when in actuality, you are just speaking for yourself on how you feel about the term, “plus size”.
We would love to know what you think… #DropThePlus or #KeepThePlus? We will be doing a follow-up article featuring comments from our readers and your comment may be chosen. So let’s talk!
FEATURED PHOTO CREDIT
PMM Archives, April 2016 Issue Photography by Luke Jones Styling by Meaghan O’Connor Hair and Makeup by Christian Sanchez On Set Assistant Haley Herkert Produced by Madeline Jones Models: Melanie Innis & Tia Provost