Fashion Industry Labels Size 8 “Plus Size”


Women’s clothing sizes have been shrinking for decades (Illustration by Diane L. Wilson)

Society has experienced change, and with these changes comes good news and bad news. The good news: society has begun to incorporate realistic body types in the media. The bad news: the “realistic body types” now in the media still fail to accurately represent the titled “women’s plus-size” group. In the fashion world, a size eight is considered plus-size. In the real world, an average woman is between a size 12 and 14. In the fashion world, Calvin Klein’s new model, a size ten, is “plus-size”. In the real world, a woman is considered “plus-size” if she is a size 16.


Calvin Klein’s new “plus-size” model, Myla Dalbesio appears in their new “Perfectly Fit” campaign and upon its release, it garnered criticism quickly. From people asking if the model being plus-size was a joke, to pointing out Myla Dalbesio was an average woman’s size, the campaign got it all.

Perhaps in the fashion world, a woman must have a thigh gap and a flat stomach, but not all women can achieve this ideal body type in a healthy way. By publicly labeling a woman who is clearly not plus-sized plus-size, not only are Calvin Klein and other companies who have done the same with their models misrepresented an underrepresented group of people, but they’ve drilled this unreal or blurred vision of a plus-sized woman into their brains.

This campaign and countless others may cause someone struggling with body image to cycle into an eating disorder, and may result in the permanent damage to that person’s health. This campaign paints plus-size models as a size ten when most plus-size women don’t look like Myla Dalbesio does.

If society tells women plus-size is sizes eight and up, society is causing body image issues. It’s causing everyone— every women—  to attempt to reach this ideal size, an unrealistic expectation, a misrepresentation of a misrepresented group. In a society where these unrealistic expectations are driven towards the plus-size community, where “plus-size” models are sizes eight, ten and 12, when sometimes stores don’t start carrying clothes until size 14, society telling women to look like those models. Society is telling women that is what they should look like. And it’s never going to happen.

Plus-size women don’t long for a woman smaller than them to represent them in a large company like Calvin Klein. They long for women who look like them.

If a size ten is plus-size, then what hope do women all over the planet have in living up to societal standards on weight? If we’re telling girls a size ten is what plus size looks like, how skinny will they think they need to be in order to be “normal”?


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