SPECIAL: Why #DropThePlus

Today I was lucky enough to participate in a photoshoot for the #DropThePlus campaign with my new friend Ajay Rochester. The photoshoot called for women in their underwear or a bathing suit. One friend told me that I was “brave” to strip down and take part in this shoot, I told her “it would only be brave if I wasn’t confident in my body.”

For more about the #DropThePlus campaign, visit http://droptheplus.org/

I want to first express something that I love about #DropThePlus: Regardless of your position, this simple little hashtag is starting a dialogue that is way overdue!

I’m no historian, so I can’t tell you when it started, but through the entiredy of my life (that’s about 28 years) I have been bombarded with images and slogans from the fashion world informing me of my flaws and perpetuating an image of what the ideal woman is supposed to look like. #DropThePlus is not necessarily changing those standards just by exisiting, but at least the conversation is happening.

In my opinion, one of the most prominant problems with the term “Plus Size” is the vagueness of the label. (Curvy is even worse!) According to America’s Next Top Model – which I’m aware is not the final word on modeling – a plus size model is US size 6-12. Unfortunately, according to plus size retailers (Lane Bryant, Torrid, City Chic, etc) plus size clothing is US size 14-24…. Do you see where I’m going with this?

A major reason Tess (Munster) Holliday’s deal with MiLK Models was such an important moment is that she’s a US size 22/24. She’s also 5′ 5″. That is almost completely unheard of in the modelling world!

Here’s what I want:

“Plus Size” is the Politically Correct term (not Chubby, Thick, or Voluptuous). That said, when I hear Plus Size, I think of clothing. I think of a number scale that starts with an X. But that’s not what I am. I am not the number or letter written on the clothing that I wear. I am fat.

People everywhere are encouraged to believe that Fat is a bad word. We instinctively associate the word fat with unclean, unhealthy, and unmotivated. But I am none of those things. People are often shocked when they learn that I do not eat chocolate. I do not eat pizza. I do not eat ice cream. I call myself fat in the same way that I call myself a brunette. Or Middle Eastern. Or relatively short. When I say I am fat, I do not mean that I’m not beautiful. (Unfortunately, people are not ready to accept Fat as my word of choice and I am stuck using the term Plus Size)

Let me tell you a quick story: I was checking in for flight where I asked to switch to an aisle seat. I told the woman at the ticket counter, “I have wide hips and it would be more comfortable if I could sit on the aisle instead of being squished in the middle.” Instead of answering my question the woman instinctively responded, “Don’t say negative things about yourself.” I was confused. I hadn’t said anything negative – infact, her assumption that I was unhappy with my wide hips is kind of a huge insult. Why did SHE have a problem with my wide hips? – I told her that I hadn’t said anything derogitory, I was just stating a fact.

Something I work really hard towards in my life, is to not body shame. This is especially challanging when people assume that due to my size, I am eager to shame “skinny bitches.” I refuse to continue this “us vs them” mentality. I do not know your story. I am in no position to judge. And neither are you.

Join the conversation by tweeting me your thoughts on twitter @yaeltygiel

Or comment on facebook.com/yaeltv

4/21/2015 UPDATE:

I have been reading a lot of #KeepThePlus arguements and I think this hashtag war has resulted in something that neither side is ready to admit – we want the same thing. I believe that we really just want to #FixThePlus.