What Exactly IS the Average Sized Woman?

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This post has been in my head for a few months now. Thanks to Bren over at My Girly Parts for reminding me to get it out.

What size do you consider to be “average” when it comes to women? 4? 6? 10? 12? 14?

First, let’s look at the definition of “average” according to Wikipedia:

av·er·age

/ˈav(ə)rij/
Noun

The result obtained by adding several quantities together and then dividing this total by the number of quantities; the mean.

Adjective

Constituting the result obtained by adding together several quantities and then dividing this total by the number of quantities.

Verb

Amount to or achieve as an average rate or amount over a period of time: “annual inflation averaged 2.4 percent”.

Using this definition, it sounds like an average woman’s size is the one that is most predominant and at least in my group of friends and associates, those sizes are almost always 10 – 14.

If you put a group of 8 women in the same room, how many of them do you think would be a size 12?

I was recently at a client photo shoot and before the event, I had to compile a list of sizes of the 6 women that were being photographed. Out of the 6, 4 were size 12, 1 was size 10 and 1 was size 6. Add myself and my partner to the mix and that number went to 6 out of the 8 women were a size 12. I am not a math genius by any means, but I would venture to say that based on that scenario, size 12 wasn’t even the average, but rather the majority.

Maybe it’s just my group of friends, but I can’t imagine that this is an exception. So how is it that society continues to tell us that size 12 and up is considered “plus-size”. For that matter, why are we still using these terms (and what exactly IS considered plus-size?). Does it really matter? Why do we continue to obsess over it? If you’re happy with the way you look and you’re taking care of yourself why do you need to be slapped with a label that some editor of a fashion magazine or manufacturer of lingerie thinks fits?

Until we “average” women start taking a not-so average stand against the stereotypes, it won’t end. Next thing you know, size 10 will be plus-size and then size 8. We already hear our daughters complain about being “fat”  as early as age 5 and 6. We have to start pushing back on the images that they see (hello, Victoria’s Secret?) and the words that they hear.

But, I have a challenge for you and this one may be hard to hear and tougher to swallow. It’s not just the message they hear from TV and read in the magazines. I hate to break it to you, but your daughter didn’t first hear these words from TV and magazines - She heard it from you. I know what kids are allowed to watch when they’re little and all the episodes of Dora, Blue’s Clues and Powerpuff Girls that I have seen, I never once heard anyone talk about fat butts and muffin tops. That came from you, Mom.

So, while I get bent out of shape every time I hear that the average woman is a size 6 and that size 12 is the new plus-size, I know that nothing’s going to change until we stop perpetuating the problem. I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s a topic that I’m passionate about. We have to embrace the awesome women that we are because if we don’t, how do we expect anything will change with our daughters?

So tell me… what’s your definition of the average sized woman?

Kristen Daukas
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