#DropThePlus: Is being called plus-size empowering or an insult?

Australian model and the face of Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line, 21-year-old Stefania Ferrario, says she is sick of being called a plus-size model and would prefer to drop the label and just be referred to as a model.

Ferrario posted the following image on her Instagram with a message saying that the term “plus-size” isn’t empowering, but rather a put-down. She shared the image in response to former Biggest Loser host Ajay Rochester’s own image about dropping the plus-size label because it is damaging to women and girls’ self-esteem.

View this post on Instagram

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! Visit droptheplus.org for full explanation of the dangers this label carries (especially on young impressionable girls). #droptheplus

A post shared by Stefania Ferrario (@stefania_model) on

“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.

“I fully support Ajay and agree with her. Let’s have models of ALL shapes, sizes and ethnicities, and drop the misleading labels.”

Ferrario and Rochester argue that models who are not overweight being referred to as plus-size sends the wrong message to young women and girls about what it means to have a healthy body size and what it means to be overweight.

Plus-size, in my mind at least, always sounds like it means overweight. Plus-size traditionally meant between the sizes of 12 and 16. But now it seems like every model who isn’t sample size is plus-size.

These women are also referred to as plus-size models.

Yes, even this one:

Photographer and body image awareness campaigner, Victoria Janashvili, says she’s no fan of the term either, saying, “I don’t like the label ‘plus-size’ in general,” she says. “Some women are curvier, some women are skinnier, some shorter, some taller. I think there’s beauty in all.”

But, of course, people like to categorise and put things into nice, neat, easily decipherable boxes.

Model Laura Wells, though, thinks the plus-size label actually brings attention to bodies of different sizes and celebrates them.

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Work up this morning to tabloid media and quotes from @ajayrochester saying that I am not a plus size model and that I am not empowering anyone. Well this picture serves its purpose. Me on the right a size 14AU (12 US, 16UK) on the left a size 6AU model. Its obvious here the differences. I am a 'plus size MODEL' because I am 3-6 sizes larger then industry standard. I understand the negative impacts using the words 'plus size' on me has on society, I post about it all the time. However in terms of @the_upside campaign damn straight I am proud to be apart of it. It's the first time a regular sized active wear brand had used a plus size model let alone anyone over a size 8AU. We need to stop shaming other people's bodies, be happy that models like me are helping to change the tide of the industry. I do promote healthy positive body image. I do promote size diversity and beauty beyond size 0. I also promote being a happy and healthy person and being apart of something bigger then yourself, for me thats helping the environment! All of these reasons are why #theupside used me to promote their message! Miss @ajayrochester the campaign nor I are #bullshit and the fact you would put that out there is not exactly campaigning successfully or positively for body image diversity. We are all women, we all look different, carry our weight in different places, look completely different even if we wear the same size but that is why we are all beautiful and should support one another. Just #BeYou Stay tuned for the documentary all about these issues @aperfect14 #dailymailyuk #dailymailau #beautybeyondsize #curvesinbikinis #beyoutheupside

A post shared by Laura Wells (@iamlaurawells) on

“It’s the first time a regular-sized activewear brand had used a plus-size model, let alone anyone over a size 8AU,” Wells says. “We need to stop shaming other people’s bodies, be happy that models like me are helping to change the tide of the industry.”

What do you think? Is the plus-size label empowering or an insult? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

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