The #droptheplus campaign continues. But what becomes more and more clear as time goes on is that a vocal, dare I say, privileged minority, seem to hold all the cards in terms of publicity and being heard.
Look in the the magazines and papers and you would be forgiven for thinking that the idea of getting rid of the term “Plus Size” is an idea universally accepted, both in the model world, and in the average consumer world.
But this couldn’t be farther from the truth, and you only have to hop onto Twitter to see the angry, and passionate response to what is now being clearly shown to be a very ill conceived idea. Women everywhere are fighting for their right to continue to use a label that they have come to see as empowering, and for whom “Plus Size” is anything but fat shaming.
As I read the tweets I find myself feeling exhausted. There is passion, and there is very real anger and frustration over what the media is choosing to portray around the #droptheplus campaign. The voices opposed to the campaign have been ignored time and again, in favour of the more famous, and often definitely not plus sized, personalities who are putting their name on the list of supporters.
Part of the exhaustion for me, is from trying to really understand what the REAL aims of the campaign actually are. Is it really for every fat woman who deserves to be accepted for the phenomenal woman they are? Or is it for some average sized models who are offended at the term “Plus size” because it lumps them in with some really big women?
I wanted to believe there was good intention behind the start of the campaign, but as days go on, I fail to see the good. A lot of Ajay Rochester’s experiences have resonated with me over the years, and I have admired her strength in some tough personal situations. But as far as this campaign goes, and the idea that it will somehow promote self acceptance and size acceptance I just cannot get on board with.
Labels help in many ways, they point us to where would be good for us to shop. For instance, when looking for my vintage inspired items, I type in some words that will head me to that direction, googlewise! There is no point me simply looking up dresses. I would be there all day. But a lot of vintage inspired places, up until more recently, haven’t had plus size sections, and so I could still waste hours trawling through sites that won’t do any good. So I specify my search that little bit more with plus size and hey presto! I’m closer to wear I want to be.
Right now though, I’m struggling with labels about myself, and maybe this is what has left me feeling somewhat out of the fight. I don’t identify particularly as a plus size girl. I am. But it isn’t the first thing I would say about myself. And one or two of the fat activists will think that it’s awful. That by not identifying as a plus size person is somehow fatphobic, and enabling to the thin world, and I am not being true to myself and to my people.
What am I trying to get at?
I think, maybe, I am battle weary. As a campaigner for size acceptance, and self acceptance, and mental health awareness, and Health at Every Size, I guess maybe I am tired with all the labelling we place on others and ourselves, and so I have wondered how much a part of this particular campaign I feel able to be part of.
BUT THEN THIS FACT HIT ME. This campaign is what is finally really getting things out in the open, and is what is giving a platform to all plus size women, to really say how they feel about themselves and their identity. And if we truly care about self acceptance and size acceptance we have to keep this dialogue open. Maybe I am just a little battle weary because I’m 36, and a mum of 3, and I’m coming out of another depressive episode. But whether or not I am on board, this discussion needs to continue, and the voice of the actual masses needs to get louder. We need to get the whole range of opinions and ideas out there, not just the opinions of the privileged few who started this campaign. It is an opportunity to really discuss the idea of “Health at Every Size”, and the truth that our bodies are no one else’s business. It is an opportunity to really discuss the language we experience when fatter than society deems acceptable, and to actually question those phobias, fears, and widely held prejudices around fat.
I don’t want to be identified as Plus Size. But by that I mean that I don’t want size to be an issue at all. To walk down the street without eyes turning and sneers uttered. For a woman to be able to leave her house without fear of judgement.
Sadly we are a long, long way off that. We are light years away from children not being bullied because they are bigger than their peers. We are generations away from teenagers not dieting because actually they feel accepted as they are. Just as they are.
But it is the world I want, and to move to that place, we have to keep fighting the stigma, and the bigots, and the ignorance.
We need to keep the dialogue going. But we need ALL the dialogue heard.