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Models campaign for fashion industry to 'Drop The Plus'

Australian reality TV host Ajay Rochester Credit: Ajay Rochester

By ITV News Reporter Faye Barker

Discussion about the size of fashion models is always going to gain column inches, but now a debate is raging about the term "plus size" when referring to models who are bigger than the stereotypical skinny waif.

Australian reality TV host Ajay Rochester recently launched a campaign to "Drop The Plus" when describing models and women who are a UK size 12, or larger. She said, "We are all women. Many shapes and sizes. #droptheplus."

Her cause has won many supporters including Australian model Stefania Ferrario. Speaking to me from Melbourne today, Stefania said using the term 'plus size' to describe a size 12 model like herself is misleading and damaging.

She said:

A young girl looking at an image of a UK size 12 model that has got 'plus size' labelled on it is in danger of believing her own body is not normal and too big.

We are all different, we are all normal.

There is no plus size, there is no 'them' and there is no 'us'.

It is just sending out a misleading message.

– Stefania Ferrario.
Australian model Stefania Ferrario Credit: Stefania Ferrario

Today I visited renowned model agency Models 1 and met Anna Fritzdorf, a 22 year old model from Sweden.

Anna is a size 12 to 14 and, although she is bigger than the average model, she is smaller than the average British woman, who is a size 14 to 16.

To be honest, when I looked at Anna, it was hard to comprehend that she could ever be referred to as "plus size".

Anna herself says - to her - it is just a word. She told me, "You should be proud of yourself no matter what you look like, as long as you are healthy and feel good about yourself."

Swedish model Anna Fritzdorf Credit: ITV News

Karen Diamond, Director at Models 1, said she feels the term is outdated. She said, "We are very keen that our slightly fuller figure models are known as 'curve models', not 'plus size'. It's not a term, I don't think, that is relevant in today's market place."

However, as in any good debate, there is another side to this story. As the #DropThePlus campaign has gained momentum, so too has the argument to #KeepThePlus.

Olivia Campbell is proud to call herself a "Plus Size Model" and told ITV News today that the term is necessary in the fashion industry because, for many years, it has been solely based on people of a smaller size.

She said:

We took the term 'plus size', we used it to start a community, to start brands, and designers are making fabulous clothes for plus size women.

It doesn't offend me in any way. I'm really proud to be part of a plus size industry that is daily changing the way people perceive beauty.

– Olivia Campbell

Some consumers who are used to the term "plus size" have also pointed out that they will struggle to find clothes in the shops that fit, if the term is dropped. So I suspect, for now, it will stay.

It is clearly a debate where no one size fits all.