The Average Woman Is No Longer A Size 14

A 2016 study proves that the size of women has increased in the last decades- These findings could hopefully trigger the much- needed changes in the industry and make shopping more inclusive for curvier women.

Women have always been victims of unrealistic body expectations. Nowadays, the media’s unrealistic glorification of the “ideal” body image often triggers a whole range of negative emotions, from self-consciousness about their bodies to frustrations, hopelessness, and depression.

Plus, such unhealthy body standards can be extremely overwhelming for women who may be struggling with body image issues and eating disorders.

However, women can now add more ammo to their fight against it- as a 216 study showed that what we have been told for decades is a lie- and the average woman in America is not the size 14, but between a size 16 and 18!


Shopping can be daunting and tough for larger women, and Deborah Christel and Susan Dunn knew this well. Plus-sized women often feel left out from clothing and fashion, and these women believed that the reason for this was simple- the idea of the “average woman” being size 14 is incorrect.

These two women, both faculty in the department of apparel merchandising, design and textiles at Washington State University, decided to investigate the matter.

After measuring more than 5,500 American women, they found out that in the last two decades, the average waist measurement increased by 2.6 inches: from 34.9 inches to 37.5 inches!

These extra inches equate to between a size 16 or 18, which corresponds to a women’s plus size 20W.

In 2019, the CDC estimated that the average is now 38.7 inches, and this means that women on average in America wear a large or extra-large pant size or a dress size 18 to 20.

Note that the sizes and waist measurements differ between ethnic groups and races, what remains a fact is that the size of women has changed in recent decades.

Now, stores need to follow suit. Stylish fashion is usually unavailable for anyone wearing above a size 12. Therefore, the average women are excluded from the retail shopping experience, and this damages their self-esteem and sense of sense-worth.

Additionally, it costs retailers plenty of potential sales. Yet, even though the fashion industry denies it, the study, published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education, proved that the common woman is bigger than before.

Dunn and Christel hope their study will trigger changes in the industry and help curvier women find shopping more inclusive.

Dunn said:

“We hope that this information can get out and be used by industry and consumers alike. Just knowing where the average is can help a lot of women with their self-image. And we hope that the apparel industry can see the numbers and know that these women aren’t going away, they aren’t going to disappear, and they deserve to have clothing.”

She pointed out that larger women are just as deserving of stylish clothing as any other person. Therefore, their sizes should no longer be only available for purchase online or put in the back of a small plus-sized section, but they should be included with the rest of the clothes.

After the findings of the study were revealed, model Sonny Turner decided to support these efforts.

She posted a photo on her Instagram page and expressed her grievances with swimsuit designers specifically:

 “[High-street] bikinis do not cater for women of my body type. [The] majority of online stores don’t either. We need straps that aren’t so tight it’s as though our neck is about to snap off. We need bikini bottoms that don’t give us wedgies when we walk. We need string bikinis that don’t expose our vagina lips.

We need swimsuits that fit over our hips without dragging the neck of the costume down causing neck ache.”

Women of all shapes, curves, and edges, are equally beautiful and handsome, so society needs to stop urging them to feel bad about our bodies. Now.