So, disclaimer here, this is an opinion. The conversation itself about what to call clothing sizes being something of a subjective one, but there does genuinely seem to be something amiss here. According to PLUS Model magazine, “In the fashion industry, plus size is identified as sized 18 and over”, and there are some sources in the fashion industry which regard anything in the 14W – 24W range as plus sized. Okay, well the average dress size in the US and the UK, where a lot of these items gets advertised is around the 14-16 range, which isn’t that far off, to be honest. So, let me get this straight, fashion industry, if you’re a woman of average size, then you’re plus sized or at least borderline? I’m not sure that makes sense.
‘Body Mass Index’ Is Just as Bad
Some doctors and dieticians these days are starting to call out the Body Mass Index (BMI) also as essentially meaningless. BMI is the body’s mass (or, in practice at least, weight), divided by the square root of the body’s height, expressed in kg/m2. That gives us a good indicator of how much a person weighs in proportion to how tall they are, and thus, should give us an indicator of how chunky they are. Except it isn’t that simple - not even close, because muscle weighs more than fat. In other words, if a person is heavy, not because they are fat, but because they’re just incredibly hench, then their BMI will say that they’re obese, which is just medically not the case. BMI can be a useful tool in a medical setting to measure and track proportional weight changes when treating obesity, yes, but it should never be used to make that diagnosis in the first place.
Well Meaning Fashion
Don’t get this article wrong, seeing more diversity in the fashion industry is a good thing, especially when it comes to moving consumers away from unrealistic, and frankly dangerous idealizations of beauty based on consistently malnourished figures, but the irony remains that to call this ‘plus sized’ is still to suggest that this is abnormal, which is simply not the case scientifically. This is often the problem, not with themes of diversity in marketing by any means, that’s great to see. We love seeing boho plus size clothing, but rather how that diversity is often portrayed in the form of a backhanded compliment. It’s basically like saying, ‘it’s ok that you’re enormous, by the way’, which, without being funny, would probably leave most people blinking in disbelief if that were randomly said to them at a social gathering.
Alternatively, the fashion industry could just leave the sizes the way they are but remove these ridiculous label categories - that’s what they tend to do in the male fashion industry. Although, that does depend on which side of the pond you live on. Skinny jeans are a thing in the UK, but not so much in the US, regardless of body size, for some reason. Perhaps American men just like wearing baggy clothes?