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Plus-Size Apparel Category Receives Little Attention

Fab Body Guide: The Body Image Battle

As models get skinnier, the average American gets larger. According to statistics, 62 percent of females in the US are overweight, so one would think that there would be a huge market for plus-size apparel. However, retailers are hesitant to cater to these customers because of the stigma it still carries. The battle between real-life beauty and ego has marketers in a tricky situation. “When a woman sees herself in the mirror, despite her size, she still thinks Angelina Jolie, not Jennifer Hudson,” said retail consultant Emanuel Weintraub.

It's time to embrace real beauty and give Americans what they want: cute clothes that fit. Plus-size model Emme says it best: "When are retailers and manufacturers going to snap out of being narrow-minded and unable to see the enormous opportunity right under their noses? If they give a customer what she needs, wants and desires, she will be loyal for life.” I second that notion.


herfallingstar herfallingstar 8 years
Designers tend to create clothes that will only look good on models. However what I also think is that if more 'plus' (and by that, I mean obese and over) size clothing, then more people will think that it's okay not to lose the weight because they're being accomodated for. I know not EVERYONE will think that, but there will be some. On body shape/image in general...I say we need more women like Christina Hendricks in our lives. Women are supposed to be curvy. It implies sexuality and fertility. And health. Some people are naturally skinny, but you'll find the majority of models have some form of ED. And that's just not right.
foudini foudini 8 years
Clothing does not "naturally look better on skinny people" as echoed by some here. Standards of beauty are not nature-based and have fluctuated dramatically over several hundred years. Need I remind these same people that a woman like Twiggy would be abhorred little more than a hundred years ago. Not to mention Marilyn Monroe and other icons of her time were revered for their curvier, ample figures. Clothes look good on people when they are the correct fit, cut, etc. It has nothing to do with who is skinnier.
sidra5397 sidra5397 8 years
I'd like to echo spharrell's comment about us short girls. A lot of the clothes I try on can make me look like I'm playing dress up with over long sleeves, wide shoulders and shirt lengths that make me look even shorter. As a 5'-er, when I do find clothes that fit, they are usually small and medium for shirts and even extra small for winter coats. Is it unrealistic for me to think that designers should start creating different variations of the same dress, for example, and care that one size AND one cut AND one hemline AND one shape does not flatter everyone?
ThisIsNot ThisIsNot 8 years
I think there are several issues being discussed here which aren't necessarily correspondent: the growing problem of obesity in the US (which is a huge issue that extends into so many areas), whether or not retailers (and it seems, sugar readers) think that people who are overweight deserve the dignity of wearing nice clothes, and the differences in sizing and tailoring among various brands. The first two issues- I don't know how to delve into without bringing in a lot of historical, cultural, and economic context, gender politics, etc. etc. The last issue- sizing, shape and construction among different brands-there are certainly some brands that cater to a particular body shape, regardless of size. Some brands, a lot actually, seem to cut their clothes based on a fairly straight body type, where the difference in hip and waist size isn't that great. This just doesn't work for me at all. I am both "curvy" and of healthy weight (I'm a size 4). I have a very hard time finding pants of any kind, and jeans are the worst- if they fit my hips, there is at least 8 inches of extra fabric floating around my waist. Or, if pants are cut for my waist, I can't get them up past my knees. So I'm limited to a few brands that I know will fit, and just try everything they have. Vintage clothes from the 50's however, always fit really well- they just tend to be cut for more of an hourglass shape. Too bad I can't wear all vintage to work.
JenFP JenFP 8 years
It's always so hard to find anything that is even slightly outside of the perceived 'norm' - even this side of the Atlantic. The normal to the fashionista isn't normal to everyday people. We're not all little barbie dolls!
emily_88_88 emily_88_88 8 years
I personally fit into the majority of clothes in stores, and it's a great thing, because it saves on tailors and it saves time shopping. However, it infuriates me that the bigger sizes in stores look terrible on a bigger person. The draping and darts and seams are never in the right places, and even if conceptually, the size should fit the girl, it never does. I hate it that it just seems that what the designers do is take a size 2 pattern and place it in a photocopier, blow it up 150%, and print it out, instead of taking the time to recut a pattern to the shape of a bigger girl. A skinny girl and a bigger girl have different bodies-- there are curves in a bigger girl that a skinny girl doesn't have, and it's terrible for making bigger girls think that clothes are the enemy, and for making them depressed about buying clothes.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
As a size 12 (AUS) girl i find it very difficult to find clothing that fits me. Which is why I only go clothes shopping twice a year, it saves me from tearing my hair out when i can't fit into yet another article because my boobs are too big, my hips are too wide, or my torso/legs are too short. I would love to have stores who also make clothes a few sizes up of their biggest size. Or to have plus size stores stock size twelves (Seriously some of the plus sized clothes are awesome) What I really want to see is affordable designer clothing in plus sizes, so that larger bodied people don't have to walk around in moo-moo's and ill fitting articles, because it's all they can find for a decent price.
mc2010 mc2010 8 years
I agree with artofshag not to judge a book by its cover. But I disagree about not worrying about others; thinking outside of yourself is the only way to live, or we would all become uncaring, but I understand this isn't what you meant (just wanted to clarify for others). Sadly, business doesn't operate by catering to the smaller percentage of super skinny or obese people, because they want gain and it's not beneficial to them. Hopefully your treatment (T4 and/or T3 or other) is helping, not just with metabolism, but energy and the like.
Cheyannei Cheyannei 8 years
People are forgetting that allot of catwalk models are under bmi and are just as unhealthy if not worse than some that carry a little extra weight. Though, my point wasn't even about the catwalk models, but the fact that some designers don't even make bigger then size 8.
artofshag artofshag 8 years
I think its sad that everyone who keeps slamming women who are overweight keep saying they need to go on a diet....Im obese due to a malfunctioning thyroid, and I think its unfair for you to tell me I need to go on a diet when that is CLEARLY not the issue, considering that I am a vegetarian. And I think its fair that designers and retailers should adjust to women who are overweight just like a lot of you are arguing that they need to make smaller sizes.. I think that everyone should stop worrying about other people and start focusing on themselves. And dont judge a book by its cover. It's rude. :)
Iwillmarryunick Iwillmarryunick 8 years
I know I'm going to get slammed but I'm tired of hearing cop outs from women who are so obviously out of their target weight. Do a BMI test. There really is a "healthy" weight for everyone's frame. Some of us are a size 4, some aren't. But all of us need to realize that fat is an epidemic in this country and one that is growing. I personally would never go out and buy a bigger size pair of jeans if mine one day didn't fit. All that's telling me is , "dude, lay off the ice cream". If the over weight people in this country would get off their high horse and realize that not only are they hurting themselves but also adding to the average cost of health care for the rest of us, it would be appreciated.
anaantunes anaantunes 8 years
The fact of the matter is: Being overweight is unhealthy. Most store make clothes up to a size 12. If you can't fit the sizes available maybe is time for you to look for a doctor and go on a diet. Not everybody needs to be super skinny, but it is crazy to expect the clothing stores to adjust to a problem that is associated with hundreds of thousands of deaths a year
mc2010 mc2010 8 years
SweetFirefly. I did not mean to offend you and you are absolutely correct that there are unhealthy people who have low BMIs, but that wasn't the argument. We must target what we know. There is a trend towards not only overweight, but also obese people in this country and valid studies have shown that this is linked to health problems that will cause this generation to be the first that will not outlive their parents. Consumer articles often do not capture what is truly going on in the healthcare system. Maybe designers are missing out on the cost-benefit gains by not including a larger/smaller population, maybe they aren't--I'm sure the financial departments have figured all that out. But that is why business is about gain, but ethics and health is about what is right for the people. Maybe it is more ethical to make people feel better and give overweight people the most illustrious of designer clothing, maybe it's not because it's catering to this downward spiral of health. Alouqua, of course there are always exceptions to the rule and I'm sorry that your medications had those side effects. Some antipsychotics are known for this as well, but sadly, the associated health issues still stand even if it wasn't "anyone's fault." If you are ok with the weight gain, great, if not, you can always speak to your doctor about alternative medications. I do not argue it is anyone's fault when they gain weight, but the evolutionary point still stands against this only being in the genes; it is definitely in society. (btw, did I ever say I was naturally skin, average, fat, or obese? no...these are just my opinions based on evidence for what I know, and everyone is entitled to theirs, no "high horse" intended sweetfirefly) Hospitals these days have a disproportionate amount of obese people (people much bigger than you) and they often walk in and out in beautiful clothing, not tents. I don't believe they look any worse or better than the thin people, but I do worry for their health. True, the real problem is with health education, the contemporary lifestyle, and healthy food access...I guess I'm trying to say that a country as great at this one, should have never gotten to this point where people would be debating re: (designer) clothing.
tulleandtea tulleandtea 8 years
It's funny seeing the length of these comments and all these commenters jargon... it makes me laugh out loud. People are so obsessed with the modeling industry because it translates as a "threat" to someone's ego and self esteem. Sure, I hear people say "it's much more than that", but there is no way around it that people are insecure and feel the need to control what the models look like in the fashion industry. My point is: who fucking cares what the models look like. Get over your insecurities, look past it, focus on the clothing. Maybe model's weight wouldn't be such an issue if the point wasn't ABOUT the models.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I for one would like to see clothing for the more average woman.
pequeña pequeña 8 years
Curvy does not equal fat. Curvy is about the form: there are both big and slim women that are curvy. "Having a small waist and curvy hips is a pain when you're looking for jeans. I know I want ones that fit my hips without gaping at the waist, don't make my butt look too big or squash it either, and have a rise where they're not "mom" jeans but don't show my buttcrack when I bend down." I have exactly the same problem countchocula! I also have a very small waist but curvy hips and pointy butt. It is a pain to find jeans that fit. I have a small size, but the problem it's not about the size but about the form. Jeans seem to be made for androgynous girls, whether they're big or thin. I found a brand that fits very well called System Action, but I think it's a Spanish brand and I don't think you can buy it in the US. Designers should make sizes for all kinds of women, bigger and smaller. But I also thing we have a very distorted image of what's fat. I mean, most 90's models would be considered "too fat" by designers these days, and they were georegous, thin women. If you compare me to a size 0 model probably I'm "fat", but I actually thing I have a rather slender figure.
redchick152 redchick152 8 years
i am 5'0, size 8, and have a 36 d chest. yes, i am probably considered in that 62% of overweight women, but to be honest, i don't weigh myself. i don't care about weight so much, i'd rather just work on my flabby areas and eating healthier(which is my new years resolution, and i'm sticking to it!) i am damn curvy. i alter EVERYTHING. my chest is so big that i have to buy dresses 1 or even 2 sizes up, but it usually looks like a bag b/c my waist is tiny, but i have hips too. and FORGET about button down shirts!! my weight and curves used to really bother me when i was younger, but now things have stopped changing (i'm 24 now) and i have learned how to dress the curves. i still have my "fat" days when nothing fits. but if i lost 20lbs (even 15), i think i would look almost too skinny! i agree that couture looks best on skinnies. its art an art form, and i love looking at it. but i would be so incredibly happy if those designers made more ready-to wear styles for the curvies....they are missing out on so much business! please, get me out of my GAP/Banana Republic/Old Navy (when i'm broke) slump! sorry for the long post!
Cheyannei Cheyannei 8 years
Yes, fat people are unhealthy and should be punished because they are fat, by making them wear tents. Fat people are lazy and have no self control so why should designer cater for weak minded people.(I’m being sarcastic). Why do I feel that the naturally skinny women, who never had a weight problem are the ones commenting about how the problem isn’t the designer but because people are too fat and unhealthy. Does being overweight mean you must be lazy and have no will power? I was put on anti depressant which basically destroyed my metabolism which of course made me gain a lot of weight. Yes, I eat healthy and exercise and yet it wasn’t my fault I gained the weight and now I can’t wear any nice clothes as designer consider me fat.
SweetFirefly SweetFirefly 8 years
If you need small clothing, go to Betsey Johnson. Their clothes are impossibly tiny. The bottom line is some women are fat. That's their choice. Don't jump on your high horse and preach "health". Have you seen the articles where they talk about "fat skinny" people? These are the people that look thin, but don't eat right or exercise so their body still has a large percentage of fat. Too many people go by what they can see on the outside. If designers choose to ignore that market, they're missing out on money. I don't really care either way.
jbenny jbenny 8 years
It's so insulting to say that when women look in the mirror they see a tall, size 0 woman. I see my body as it really is and I am fine with it....and it looks a lot more like the women in the Dove ads than Angelina jolie.
mc2010 mc2010 8 years
sorry, addendum: not body-index under 19 as that is dependent on height, but a lot of you have mentioned the same point: thin and healthy girls are eliminated from MANY stores because they do not fit into the clothes.
mc2010 mc2010 8 years
I have to say something with a twist of a medical perspective: this is not just a body image issue, but one of health. The prompt of the fabsugar post states that the American population is getting larger and that 62 percent of females are overweight--this is tied to a slew of problems: atherosclerosis (causing heart attacks and strokes), diabetes (causing nerve damage, amputations), and many more. Your genes came from your ancestors, so they are not to blame for this trend in weight gain across the nation (it takes much longer for evolutionary changes). So to change the sizing to fit the new overweight population would be encouraging a life of health issues, not to mention healthcare costs that are through the roof. p.s. Jcrew actually has eliminated much of the "thin" market as well as size 0 is too large for women with a body-mass index under 19 (considered in the average range). Often when you look to see clothes that are on sale, it is usually the largest of sizes, sometimes the smallest, and rarely those in the middle...suggesting that larger women could buy these clothes, but for some reason aren't, and also that the clothing market does not need to change sizing...and yes, we could all just learn to sew or go to tailors ...sorry for the long message
Vaadsfweytes Vaadsfweytes 8 years
I agree with smiley12tree. A lot of overweight people I know try to tell themselves that they are healthy and blame it on genes and bone structures. I always wonder how much weight they can lose and actually be healthy if they'd stop eating pizza at 10 at night and start working out regularly. As the article says, over 60% of women are overweight, and I wonder how many women out of those 60 are calling themselves curvy, big bonned, or healthy.
almostloli almostloli 8 years
in one of my marketing lectures, i was taught.. marketers and advertisers should show the 'desired' image, the 'unreachable' .. so that customers become your slave and keep buying once it's reachable.. or relate-able it's a totally different story
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