Throughout the centuries, history finds women doing whatever they can to fit into the current cookie cutter mold of popular, accepted society. From the whale bone corsets of the late 1800s to the psychedelic style of hippies in the 1960s and 1970s, one major trend that followed these fashions through the ages is weight. For the past fifty years or so, since the dawn of models like Twiggy and Verushka von Lehndorff, the world turned away from the “plus size” and opened its arms only to the phenomenon of thin.
But what did society think of plus sized fashion in a time when thin was unaccepted? A web article from articalesbase.com sheds some light on the subject: “In the past, a big beautiful body was associated with health and wealth. As a matter of fact, up until the 1960’s, BBW and plus size women were lauded for their beautiful physiques. The plus size woman appeared in almost all of the fashion photographs, films, and paintings of the 1920’s-1950’s” (Brown).
According to dictionary.com, plus size means “an extra-large size category of clothing, esp. for women.” (plus). However, recent years have shown a push towards plus size, and even “real” size fashion. This can especially be seen in the banning of very skinny models from Madrid Fashion shows, and the more liberal Full Figured Fashion Week. While the acceptance of plus size fashion continues to increase, it still does not completely conform to the wants and needs of its wearers.
Full figured, curvy, big-boned - any woman who describes herself with these terms automatically finds her self categorized into the “plus size” by retailers and manufacturers. Today, plus size generally encompasses sizes 14W to 30W, however some retailers consider sizes as low as a10W or 12W plus size. “The average American woman is 5'4", weighs 140 lbs, and wears a size 14 dress,” writes LB Lacey on fulland
fabulous.org, a membership organization for women and teenagers dealing with the peer pressure of being overweight. She continues, explaining that the “ideal” woman (portrayed by models and movie stars) is 5’7”, weighs only 100 pounds, and wears a size 8 (Lacey). These figures indict an alarming fact: sizes generally consider as “plus sizes”, are, in actually, “real sizes”, worn by the majority of women in the United States of America.
Yet still, many designers, especially high fashion designers, ignore the majority and design for the aforementioned ideal woman. Many stores carry plus sizes (Target, DEB), but only up to 16W or 18W, and generally, these are mainly just larger version of smaller fashion, most of which are not meant for a more voluptuous body. Other stores specifically carry styles designed to cover up and hide curves in ill designed drapes, not flaunt them (Fig 1). Still other stores offer plus sizes, but only over the internet (Old Navy, Forever 21, GAP), as though all plus size women lack the need to try anything on. Rarely do stores cater to the needs of bigger...