These women represent less than 1% of the population. So why are we obsessed with them?

Chelsea Bonner


FACT :  If you are one of the 85% of women who wear a dress size of 10 or more you are considered plus size by the fashion advertising industry.

That’s the reality. And although most fashion sales come from women in this size demographic (10- 16), the fashion models used to advertise almost all fashion labels, beauty products and accessories are around a size 6-8 and represent less than 1% of the population. Less than 1%.

Yes yes, we have all heard the line about how models are supposed to look like coat hangers so the clothes look their best and nothing distracts from the garment. But here’s a news flash: NO ONE LOOKS LIKE THAT. So why are we still making clothes that look best on a coat hanger?

And now an added argument has reared up:

Who is plus size, who is not, who dare be able to use that as a descriptive of themselves, and who has no right to it?

I have been asked many times over the past couple of weeks what my thoughts on the term ‘plus size’ as it seems to be one of the biggest conversations in the media right now.

It has made me take a look at what I have been saying for years, that it is a descriptive term to differentiate the kind of models we represent (like petites, or fitness for example)  but actually, I’m not sure where it came from.

Someone came up with that label over 20 years ago and now it has evolved into something much more than just a descriptive word, it seems loaded with emotional responses bought forth from our very cores and its dividing women all over the world.

I myself identify as Plus in terms of fashion because I’m too curvy for most mainstream sizes – but the amount of times people say to me that I’m “not really plus” and shouldn’t call myself that is amazing. It’s a grey area isn’t it?  If I’m not Plus and I’m not mainstream then what the hell am I?


It’s a conundrum wrapped in a riddle; should we even continue to put these labels on ourselves… is it a positive term as some believe? A derogatory term? Or still used a descriptive term (as I had always thought)?

It seems to be dividing us further as women, creating even more boundaries when so many of us have worked so hard for so long to pull the walls down. Can we not be one united womanhood and accepting of our bodies in all our glorious lines and curves – fuller or smaller?

My team and I have been trying to be a voice of change for women for over 12 years but the change we want to see is one without barriers, labels or women hating and bullying other women because they don’t fall into a specific size category.

Inclusion not separatism is the way forward, I believe. I do not want to be labelled like a chicken at the butcher into a weight category and be told who I belong to. Nor do I want that for anyone else. Neither have I ever heard a woman introduce herself as a ‘plus size’ business women or a ‘plus size’ mother so why be labelled a ‘plus size’ fashionista?

Should this term be made redundant? Perhaps. I know one thing for sure, if we as women stop dividing ourselves into groups and defining ourselves with labels, then the fashion and advertising industries as a whole will likely follow suit and stop doing the same.

Size diversity in fashion – no labels please – that’s my dream.

Over to you, how do you feel about the term ‘plus size’? Time to retire it from our vocabularies?

Chelsea Bonner is 37-years-old and the owner and director of BELLA model management, a model agency that specialises in plus size models, models who are size 10+. Chelsea and her team are passionate advocates for the use of more realistic sized models throughout the fashion and media industry and hope by introducing clients to the idea of using models who more closely represent the nations size average they will improve women’s health and self esteem.