I work in the fashion industry, I studied fashion design and I describe myself often as a fashion stylist. But when it comes to my specialism I add a very small but significant little word to it.... PLUS. That's right I add it not subtract it.
Sitting back and watching the #droptheplus take hold over the last few weeks has been nothing short of interesting and baffling in equal measure. It seems to be taken for granted that ironically if you're part of what is often termed the 'plus size community' we must all be rallying around the same causes. Contrary to popular belief the plus size community as the plus industry is often referred to isn't actually a cult and the idea of dropping the plus has definitely thrown up some interesting debate.
Personally I'd like to #keeptheplus it is what SLiNK magazine does, it has become an intrinsic part of what I do and it has helped many women, brands and publications find a space within an industry that isn't quite ready to fling open the door to them.
Plus size need not be an offensive term. More often than not we can choose the phrases we find offensive and reclaim those that we don't want to be used against us as a weapon.
The idea of dropping the plus is in fact in many ways right now more backwards and offensive. When I describe SLiNK as a plus size magazine I'm not belittling my publication in anyway, in fact I know SLiNK and its plus size readership are truly every bit as awesome as their straight size counterparts, we all just simply need some descriptive terms so we know what's what.
Until all stores stock the same size ranges / all size ranges, then dropping the plus is not an option, how would we know where to shop? How would we know where our sizes are stocked, all it encourages is continued fashion industry rejection as women are reminded over and over that their body and their money is not welcome in certain stores. Rather than dropping the plus shouldn't we be embracing and reclaiming it. Let's not make it another dirty word.
But in reality this campaign isn't about the average plus size woman. It doesn't take into consideration the consumers or the brands at all. It focuses on models, just a small part of an ever growing plus size fashion industry. The war cry of Plus models, by no means all but a few, who are fed up with being called 'plus models'. Well here is the harsh reality. All models have labels, a model might be on the straight size board but more commercial, a girl could be more edgy or editorial or have an English Rose look. From spending years booking models for shoots, there is always a specific look for every editorial, brand or job. It isn't demeaning or harsh, if I'm shooting a beauty editorial my choice is different than for a lingerie campaign. If I'm ringing an agency for a package of models for SLiNK, I want them from the plus or curve division (as many agencies call their plus depts anyway, so essentially the term plus model is rarely used officially by agencies right now, which I'm cool with, call your division whatever you want but an open rejection of the terminology is not) - this is because I'm after a particular size of model. The division is simply down to workability and common sense.
The suggestion that many 'plus models' miss out on more mainstream work isn't because they are called plus or curve models. Even without the term they still wouldn't fit into the samples peddled by designers to mainstream media, hell, I've worked with straight size models that couldn't fit the samples before. Dropping the word plus won't make a runway dress fit. The change for more plus models in mainstream campaigns and publications can only happen when the way sampling is done changes, actions and sample sizes here in this case will really speak louder than words.
The majority of modelling work for plus size models, still comes from plus size fashion brands and it would be smart to remember that.
(I have of course referenced in the past that there is still a size discrepancy between plus models and the majority of plus women but that's a whole different ball game and not one for now).
But to any plus model out there that wants to drop the plus. Just please remember where most of your work comes from and if you don't want to have the honour of representing plus size women in fashion please don't take the plus pound. Believe me there are plenty who will take your place. So stop trying to drop the plus.
As Tess Holliday so rightly said the other day. The plus size industry has supported her and given her opportunities when mainstream fashion didn't want to know. Why would you reject it?
Embrace the opportunity you have within an industry that is so fiercely competitive and feel plus positive.