ASOS is often cited as one of the brands leading the pack when it comes to offering stylish, diverse clothing options to the plus-size community with its Curve line. But after an Instagram post went awry Monday morning, it risks alienating that very same customer base.
The brand posted a shot of model and filmmaker Naomi Shimada, a UK size 16, in one of its slip dresses. After posting, many commenters took issue with calling Shimada "plus size" in the caption noting that the brand could have simply referred to her as "model and travel film-maker."
Indeed, ASOS removed the phrase "plus size" from the post, and responded to concerned commenters.
Only now, they've upset the plus-size community, who have taken to the comments and to Twitter to express outrage at the removal of the term.
In this case, ASOS is damned if they do, damned if they don't. There is an ongoing debate roiling through the plus community regarding the term 'plus size,' with models like Ashley Graham and Jordyn Woods advocating for doing away with it altogether because of negative implications, and customers on the other side arguing that it is simply a useful term like "maternity" or "petite" to designate clothes that are available in their sizes. Shimada herself recently gave an interview to the Guardian in which she acknowledged that her size is "average" and that "'plus' still feels like a dirty word in the fashion world."
With this Instagram post, ASOS unwittingly stepped right in the middle of this debate; judging by its comments, the brand's social media team clearly believed they were doing the right thing by removing the term, only to be faced with a new, larger outcry. ASOS is currently responding by DMing concerned customers on Twitter through their dedicated customer service handle, asking for feedback on how to fix the situation.
However ASOS decides to respond next, one thing is for sure: There's no clearer consensus on the use of the term "plus size" now than there was when this debate started. As brands continue to expand their size offerings, this will be an issue they will need to contend with.