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Is the term "plus-size" going to become a thing of the past? If it’s up to a new group of models hitting the runway, it will be.
While these new models are not the standard size 0 or 2 that we often see gracing the catwalk, they are not going to let the size of their clothing define them. Instead, they’re trying to change the way the fashion industry (and the rest of the world) sees them, with the term "curve" — which describes the shape of their body, not just their waistline.
The movement recently came into the spotlight after 18-year-old model Jordyn Woods, a newcomer to the modeling scene, was featured in an interview on TeenVogue.com in which she referred to herself as a "curve model" rather than the more common industry term, "plus-size."
“I never really looked at curve models — I’ve always seen runway models, high fashion models, Victoria’s Secret models — and never really got the chance to pay attention to the curve models and how awesome they actually are and how they’re just super confident,” Woods told the magazine. “They’re just different — they’re more normal, too, and more people can relate to that because the majority of people aren’t size 2.”
In a world where the average American women is said to be a size 14, it’s no wonder that women would more closely identify with those models whose bodies are more shapely.
“For me, it’s awesome because I’m just naturally a super curvy girl and I feel like my body will never be size 0. There’s so many people out there just like me, and right now the curve industry is just blowing up because people are realizing curve models are cool, and most people are not that skinny,” Woods added.
But why does "curve" stick with women more than "plus-size"? Perhaps because women don’t see the size of an article of clothing accurately defining their body type.
“The term plus-size is so inaccurate. I’m not plus-size. I’ve never really bought an article of clothing that is plus-size,” said model Barbie Ferreira in a video titled “Size Matters” on Vice’s i-D.
Ferreira isn’t the size 14 or above that typically constitutes plus-size, but she also isn’t a size 0. Her 30-inch waist leaves her at about a size 8 at most retailers, even though her body is definitely more curvaceous than the standard runway model's.
“I think some people are shying away from [plus-size] because of the stigma attached to it; the idea that plus is somehow lesser than straight size," Christine Hunsicker, the CEO and founder of plus-size clothing rental company Gwynnie Bee, told TODAY.com via email. "That stigma is the root of the problem, not the term itself. To really address that, treat women in the plus size range with equal respect.”
Ferreira also acknowledged the stigma plus-size models often feel, telling i-D that the prospect of attending the same castings as standard models “excites me more" than being cast in a plus-size campaign.
But the reality is, whether curve or plus-size, those who fall into this category still feel a divide.
“I just want to make a change in the curve industry because I want other curve girls to realize that you don’t have to dress a certain way because you are curvy,” Woods told TeenVogue.com.
Hunsicker certainly agrees.
“The fact that we are having this conversation shows that more women are speaking up and demanding agency on how they are treated as consumers. The plus market is the most populous in the U.S., and social media has given them a way to reach out directly to brands to express what they want,” she wrote.
While #curvemodels has certainly taken off in the social media world, we'll just have to wait and see if these pioneers can get the term to stick once and for all.