Australian model urges us to #DropThePlus

Ferrario's co-campaigner, The Biggest Loser's Ajay Rochester.

Ferrario's co-campaigner, The Biggest Loser's Ajay Rochester.

Australian model Stefania Ferrario is sick and tired of being pigeonholed in her profession. Together with The Biggest Loser's Ajay Rochester, she's calling on the fashion industry to stop using the term 'plus-size' to describe women.

They believe it is "harmful", "misleading" and "damaging for the minds of young girls" – and judging by the support they've received on social media, they aren't the only ones.

Since Rochester debuted the hashtag #DropThePlus a month ago, hundreds of women have jumped on board, showing their support via Instagram and Twitter.

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Ferrario, who is an Australian size 12 and current face of Dita von Teese's lingerie line, wrote on her Instagram: "I am a model FULL STOP … Unfortunately in the modeling 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'm NOT proud to be called 'plus', but I AM proud to be called a 'model', that is my profession!"

Rochester, who is also an actress and author, believes it's dangerous to draw a distinction between plus-sized and straight-sized women.

As she rightly points out, modelling is the only profession in which people are categorised according to their size.

"We don't label anyone else that way: chef and plus-sized chef, comedian and plus sized-comedian, doctor and plus-sized doctor. … So why women?"

Despite their major aversion toward the term, some women don't see a problem with it, even finding it empowering.

As blogger Georgina Grogan told Huffington Post, "I am plus-size, I've always been plus-size, I have no problem with the term at all. I don't find it negative in any way. I'm extremely confident and happy being the size that I am and I'm just happy that more and more people are confident enough in themselves to use this term too."

Marie Southard Ospina echoes this view. The plus-size fashion blogger told BuzzFeed Life she feels like #DropThePlus "fails to account for the thousands of women who have been inspired and empowered by movements in size acceptance."

"To say that 'plus-size' is an intrinsically negative thing belittles the work that so many women have done, both to help themselves and to help others achieve a more positive relationship with body image," she said.

"Obviously those of us who crave size inclusivity hope for the day when size descriptors are irrelevant," she continued.

"But we're not at that stage there. And the way of getting there isn't to tell all those women proudly identifying as 'plus-size' and engaging with that community that they're somehow wrong for doing so."

Regardless of whether the term 'plus-size' is valid or not, the response from women to #DropThePlus has certainly inspired some thought-provoking discussion.

As Ferrario told The Fashion Spot, "There have been a lot of girls reaching out and telling me about their body image issues and struggles with self acceptance."

"The fashion industry has a huge influence on youth. What kind of message are we sending out to young impressionable girls? That models over a size [US] 4 are somehow not normal, and only size 0-2 models are?"

Her dream is that women of every shape and size be able to shop from the same clothing rack, rather than being segregated to a separate section of the store. (Or a whole other store entirely.)

"I am a girl. And I don't want people to categorise me or others as 'plus size'! We all are beautiful the way we are! #DropThePlus"

#DropThePlus stands as another step towards size diversity in the fashion industry, hot on the heels of Calvin Klein and Pirelli both featuring women who wear above-the-average-model-size in recent campaigns – without any PR fanfare. Keep it coming, please.

So, what do you think about the term 'plus-size'? Another exercise in body-shaming or a worthy, relevant and empowering distinction?