What is Plus Size?

In the fashion industry, “plus size” is a term for models who are size 8 and up. But in the real world, most people would never think of a size 8 as plus size — most plus-size clothing doesn’t even start until a size 16. Not so long ago plus-size models were around size 10-12, but that number has recently shrunk to an 8.

The average American woman is a size 14, and yet the dominant sizes in the industry are 0, 2, and 4. At size 8, plus-size models are considerably smaller than the average American women!

There’s actually a bit of a controversy between ‘plus size’ models about the term. Some, hate it. Supermodel Ashley Graham (she of the Sports Illustrated cover) wears a standard size 14. Graham feels that as she is, in fact, the size of the average woman, she shouldn’t be categorized as ‘plus size’. She has made it clear that she prefers the terms ‘curvy’ or ‘curve’. To Graham, plus-size makes it sound like there are ‘normal’ women and then women who, because of their bodies, are ‘other’.

On the other side, Size 22 star Tess Holliday welcomes the term. She blasts curvy models who have denounced the term ‘plus-size’ saying, ‘they think they’re too good for it’. Holliday tressed that she has no interest in replacing plus-size with any ‘cutesy’ terms.’How can you build your career from taking money from plus-size women and then turn around and say the term’s not good enough for you?’ she asked

Holliday added that she’d like to see more ‘true’ plus-sized models, like herself. She is 5’5 and weighs about 280. Ashley Graham stands 5’9 and carries about 170 pounds.

Any thoughts on the term plus-size? Or the controversy?

3 thoughts on “What is Plus Size?

  1. At 6’4″ I’ve qualified as plus-sized my whole life. I suppose the world needs things to compare people to, but I know plenty of tall women who wear plus sizes, who are hardly that at all.. but size determines the category, not the height! So, I go with the flow, but realise that society seems to need ways to compare and categorize people, a concept I really never bought into.


  2. Hi Maria; thank you for writing! i just don’t really get labels. Why can’t we just be what we are? I’m not that tall, so when I shopped in Lane Bryant, it was because I weighed a lot more and couldn’t fit into ‘standard’ sizes. I was in my 20s, and i hated that I couldn’t shop where most of my peers did. You’re right – sadly the world does seem to need to compare people. Well said!


    1. Thank you! I don’t fit in this world in many ways… at least they have a lot of options and stylish ones for people who are plus-sized. There really isn’t the concept of ultra-tall plus size for clothes, seems if you are tall you are Junior of less than size 16! And for shoes…how about not being able to shop except for online with size 14! SO, I gave up worrying about shopping and fitting in a long time ago.. .now I focus on designer handbags and diamonds!! xo


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