6 Reasons Why We Should ‘Drop The Plus’

Fashion, Opinion

STEFANIA

“I am a model FULL STOP.” Says the face of Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line, Stefania Ferrario.

“Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size… I do not find this empowering… I am not proud to be called ‘plus’ but I am proud to be called a ‘model'”.

Stefania is one of a group of models, alongside Australian TV presenter, Ajay Rochester, who are campaigning to get the fashion industry to #DropThePlus – as in ‘plus size’ and stop classifying models by their size. The campaign is now widely trending on Twitter, with women worldwide tweeting their support and sharing selfies like Stefania’s.

There have been objections, of course, with many in the industry saying ‘plus size’ is a term simply used to differentiate. How is it any different from petite? But whereas petite describes a certain body ratio, ‘plus size’ doesn’t describe anything. Plus what? What is normal? Is normal the industry standard size 10? That’s ridiculous, right? That is the message that the fashion industry is currently sending out.

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Here’s why we need to ‘Drop The Plus’:

1. ‘Plus size’ is a pointless classification, when we already have a very successful, numerical system of differentiating between sizes e.g. 10, 12, 14

2. The term implies that anyone who is larger than a size 10 is not normal, or too big. This is extremely damaging and leaves women wondering “If she is a plus size, what the hell am I?” A perfect example of this is the Calvin Klein model, Myla Dalbesio, who was labelled as plus size, causing outrage.

3. Fashion is about empowering people to express themselves and be confident, it shouldn’t be about excluding people because of their size and making them feel insecure and inferior.

4. ‘Pus size’ is not just negative for the consumers of fashion, it is damaging for the models themselves. It stigmatises all size 12 and above models as “not real” or “not normal models”, just as the label of “real women” with “curves” excludes those models who are smaller, as if they are not real women.

5. Yes, ‘plus size’ did serve a purpose when women over size 10 had completely separate divisions within model agencies and were so rarely seen in campaigns and editorials that it genuinely shocked us to see them in Vogue. ‘Plus size’ was a fashion movement and it worked. Yes this is great, but the real success is when fashion rejects the plus label and starts accepting these models as an industry standard.

6. Language matters. Contrary to popular belief (we are all familiar with the rhyme – sticks and stones may break my bones….) words have an exceptional effect and can be irreparably damaging. As Stefania says “I am a model FULL STOP.” Just we are all women FULL STOP.

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#droptheplus

@stefania_model

@ajayrochester

@droptheplus

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If This Girl Can, so can you

Uncategorized

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Sport, a word that instantly fills me with dread and conjures up uncomfortable flash backs of desperate attempts to get out of P.E lessons, which involved disgusting maroon hockey socks, chin pads and the girls changing room. This changing room has made such an impression in my memory that despite not being subjected to it for at least seven years, thinking about it now I can almost smell the sweat and mud as we peeled those hockey socks off our legs. I can practically feel the shame and embarrassment sweep over me as I wrestled to change my shirt in the corner without anyone catching a glimpse of my stomach or my M&S AA-cup. Obviously I know now that these feelings were much exaggerated by puberty and the fact I was a 13 year old girl in a room packed with other 13 year old girls. The shame I felt then was totally unnecessary, but due to my severe lack of self-confidence I spent six years of my school life not just dreading, but going to extreme lengths to avoid sport.

For this reason, I am not at all surprised to hear that there are 2 million fewer women partaking in sport than men in the UK. I am finally free of it, why would I put my self through that again by choice? And for enjoyment?

Although my issues with sport are deeply rooted, most women are familiar with the fear of judgement that comes hand in hand with exercising. Whether it’s when getting changed at the gym, making the walk from the changing rooms to the poolside or your thighs jiggling when you run past someone in the park.

The “fitspiration” that plagues the internet is just as damaging as the “thinspiration” found on Pro-Ana sites and has made exercising about being thin, ripped, tanned and flawless. It might not be perfect, but Sport England have done their research and recognise that something positive needs to be done. The campaign is their attempt to encourage women to get involved with sport – and it works.

Playing sport is about teamwork, friendship, stress-relief and enjoyment, which is why I think the This Girl Can campaign is great. It does exactly what it claims to – watching it made me
want to get active, it made me want to play sport, a feat which I never thought possible. The women in the advert look happy, healthy and they’re doing it because they love their body, not because they hate it. They look like women I know and if they’re doing it, why can’t I?

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“If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?” #HeForShe

Features, News, Opinion

I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked play on the video of Emma Watson’s U.N speech, which is now rapidly overtaking social media. Until coming across this video, I doubt many of us even knew that she was a U.N Women Goodwill Ambassador, and now her “game-changing” speech has sparked global passion, causing a remarkable stir across the internet and getting people rooting for feminism.

Watson’s speech signifies the launch of the #HeForShe campaign, which aims to get one billion men on board, as advocates, for equal rights for women globally. The campaign is taking a refreshingly different approach to other women’s rights campaigns, by directing itself at men, rather than just focusing on women. The speech highlights how equal rights effect males too, for instance, not having to suffer mental health problems in silence, being able to talk openly and being able to show vulnerability.

Watson goes on to say what we are all thinking, making light of herself, the “Harry Potter girl” who might not have been taken seriously to begin with, but within a few minutes of speaking, has captivated her audience. She is no longer the school girl with the magic wand, she i a strong, influential woman standing up and speaking about something that she truly believes in.

Perhaps what I find most significant in Watson’s speech is how she talks about the actual word “feminism,” recognising and clarifying today’s common misconceptions.

“I decided that I was a feminist. This seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists.”

Unfortunately, I also find this to be true. Women can often be ashamed to be thought of as feminists because it would mean they were too aggressive, too strong and of course, too man-hating. Why is it that feminism has become something to shy away from? How can an idea that men and women should be equal be seen as something negative?

The truth is many people can’t shift the idea that feminism simply means “anti-men.” Even though most people are informed enough to know that this couldn’t be further from the truth, it is a stigma which seems to be sticking around. I know young women who would never admit to being a feminist, particularly in front of men, for fear of being mocked or causing outrage, but what is so outrageous about an idea, a movement, where everyone in the world has equal rights?

If the young women of today cannot call themselves feminists and do not believe in this idea then what hope do campaigns such as #HeForShe actually have? This is but one of the reasons why Watson’s speech holds such importance and has made such a far-reaching impact.

If everyone – male and female – who watches the speech, while scrolling through Twitter, thinks for a second about what feminism actually means, not just for women, but for everyone, and not just for today, but for the long-term, then Watson’s speech has made a difference.

Too often we think to ourselves,”Who am I to talk about that?” “Who am I to make any difference?” Well, who was Emma Watson? She’s the girl who asked herself and us,

“If not you, who? If not now, when?”

World Mental Health Day 2013

Opinion

Happy World Mental Health Day. It may seem like an unfortunate use of words to associate with mental health, but I believe that today is a positive thing. Mental health should be addressed, people should be talking about it and today should encourage more people to open up about their own experiences.

One in four people every year suffer with some form of mental health illness, but despite this, it has almost always been a taboo issue in the UK. We may have moved on from times when people with mental illnesses were victims of witch-hunts and thrown into jail but still now in the 21st century, society demonstrates a great fear of the unknown and a lack of understanding, which is scary in itself.

Mental health problems can affect anyone; men, women, adolescents and children and can have a dramatic impact on the patient and their family’s lives. In some cases sufferers have to continue to live with the shadow of their illness hanging over them, as despite the fact that half of sufferers are no longer affected after 18 months, society often fails to recognise that people can recover and lead normal lives. This creates more barriers that those inflicted must face and leads to people being deemed unemployable, unsafe and socially unaccepted. A vicious circle.

A survey by Time to Change campaign showed that 66 percent of university students say they have a mental health problem, yet only 0.3 percent would declare it on an application form. There is even evidence to suggest that men are less likely to get treated than women and are therefore three times more likely to commit suicide. This is a fact which saddens me greatly, and hits close to home. Knowing someone who recently took their own life, my views on mental health have been instilled more than ever, and I can’t help feeling, that if only there was no longer this black cloud of shame hanging over the mentally ill, then how many lives could be saved? Campaigning to rid stigma is one way of looking at it, but really we are fighting to save lives. How can that be ignored?

In the NHS Attitudes to Mental Illness Survey Report in 2011, 85 percent of those asked believed that people with a mental illness experience stigma and discrimination. This proves that as a nation we recognise there is a problem, yet still there is no significant change.

There is some hope though. Time to Change, which was set up in 2007, is England’s largest mental health anti-stigma campaign and is funded by Comic Relief, Big Lottery Fund and the British Government. The campaign is aiming to change attitudes and behaviour towards mental health through a variety of techniques, spreading their ‘It’s Time To Talk’ message. Time to Change believe that they have begun to reduce discrimination and improve public attitude towards mental health problems, and this is certainly true. In recent years awareness has greatened, with an increase in TV programs, blogs etc about mental health and more people are starting to speak out. However, it shouldn’t be just the ‘brave’ ones. Talking about mental health should be a normal part of life, just as physical illness is, and there is still a long way to go. It’s Time to Talk, it’s Time to Change.

 

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