If there was anything to be taken from Zoolander Two it was that the modeling industry is still rife with stereotypes.
Thankfully there are professionals fighting to break down the preconceptions and bring the industry forwards to genuinely accept, and promote all shapes and sizes.
And while the increased awareness and support of ‘plus size’ modeling is increasing globally, Australian Stafania Ferrario is still challenging such labels as they remain a tool to maintain exclusivity, keeping many working models outside of the mainstream and projecting dangerous ideals to impressionable minds.
It's been just over a year since I started the #DropThePlus movement. For those who don't know, #DropThePlus is about dropping the controversial "Plus Size" label from the fashion and modelling industry. Every model above a US size 4 is automatically labelled a Plus Size model even though the average clothing size for women in the US is between 12 and 14. Young women are strongly influenced by the fashion industry, and seeing models that may be their own size or even smaller, being labelled as Plus Size, is putting them in danger of believing their own bodies are bigger than they should be and not 'normal'. It's an extremely damaging and misleading label, helping lead women (and men) to an array of body image issues. We should have models of ALL sizes and shapes without segregating them and falsely labelling them. We are models FULL STOP. #DropThePlus went viral and articles discussing it have been published by nearly every major media outlet in the world with unanimous support. Since then, most model agencies have dropped their "Plus Size" category and have either renamed them as "Curve", or moved the curvier models into the main board without any segregation. This is a huge step forward in body acceptance and equality. Unfortunately we continue to see the dangerous "Plus Size" labelling in the media and stores…so there's still work to be done!
In a post from 2015 Ferrario argued:
I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size, and so I’m often labelled a ‘plus size’ model. I do NOT find this empowering.
A couple of days ago, @ajayrochester called the industry to task for its use of the term ‘plus size’ by making the point that it is ‘harmful’ to call a model ‘plus’ and damaging for the minds of young girls.
I fully support Ajay and agree with her. Let’s have models of ALL shapes, sizes and ethnicities, and drop the misleading labels. I’m NOT proud to be called ‘plus’, but I AM proud to be called a ‘model’, that is my profession!
Ferrario isn’t alone either. The model regularly uses the hashtag #droptheplus in her posts and the movement continues to gather momentum online.
The site droptheplus.org explains their stance very clearly.
Some “plus sized” models have come out against #droptheplus by claiming that they are not bothered by the term and embrace it. They’ve missed the point of the movement, it’s not about them.
The primary concern of #droptheplus is the effect the term has on the general public. A young woman looking at a photo of a perfectly healthy woman with the caption “plus size model” below it, is in danger of believing that her own body is bigger than it should be and not normal. This warped self assessment of body image leads to a host of mental and physical health issues.
Fair play to them, the cause is certainly worthwhile!
Promoting the term ‘plus size’ may on the surface appear to challenge outdated ideals, but at its core it maintains the status quo that there is a distinction to be made – a distinction that is entirely unnecessary.
An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest… not forgetting his time at ASDA.