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Commentary: Average sized women need better fashion options

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Thandi Ware, LV Life Editor

Thandi Ware, LV Life Editor

For many years now, American women have been told that the average clothing size for women in America is 14.

However, according to a study published this year in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average American woman in 2016 wears between sizes 16 and 18.

There is little to no representation for the true average sized woman in the media or in clothing stores.

According to a recent article by Cosmopolitan writer Laura Beck, the average plus-size model is a size 8 to 10.

How is a woman who far from plus size represent the typical size 16 woman?

In addition to misrepresentation in media and the fashion industry, the sizes that are readily available at popular clothing stores – such as Forever 21 and American Apparel – do not even go up to a size 16.

While these companies do offer some plus-sized options, they are hard to find.

These companies require their plus sized patrons to purchase online rather than shopping in store,where they can try the clothes on before buying them.

Forever 21’s sizing for its “regular” women’s in-store line, only goes up to a size 12. The “plus-size” variety is often matronly and conservative, not cute or comperable to the fashions available to smaller women – which are much more modern and trendy.

American Apparel is even more discriminatory in its sizing, with most of its clothing only going up to a size 10.

The store only offers a few items as large as size 14. Models for this company don’t look bigger than size 2.

Another clothing brand that skews particularly small is Brandy Melville. Most of this brand’s tags read “one size fits all” but a simple glance, will tell you that is not at all the case. At their largest, Brandy Melville may fit a size 3 or 4 woman.

When I asked what is the biggest size that their brand goes up to, I was offered a cozy, loose fitting sweater by the online representative. To add insult to injury, the sweaters I was offered to look at were yet again one size fits all and modeled by a size 2 model.

As “loose and cozy” as these sweaters may be, they would not serve any purpose to a woman over a size 6 or a woman with a large bust.

Our media and our fashion industry need to do better to actually represent the women that they supposedly cater to.

It would seem better for business – and for the general population of women – for companies to provide normal women numerous options for cute and trendy clothes that fit – rather than relegating them to wear frumpy duds.

Thandi Ware, a junior journalism major, is LV Life editor for the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at

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