After watching body activist and model Ashley Graham’s TED Talk, I decided to look into the label ‘plus size’ and where sizing first began.
The term plus size is defined as a larger size than normal, which I found to be quite shocking. How can the female body have a normal category when no one body is the same as another? What is a normal size? This made me want to delve into sizing more and the origins of clothe sizes.
From the research I gathered, I came to understand that before mass production clothing and fast fashion there was a concept of ‘made-to-measure’ in which garments were made to fit each individual customer. And then when Ready-to-wear fashion first began in the 1800’s it was only military uniforms for men. Due to the suit designs being so simple and basic, creating a size range was a lot easier and was mainly focused around chest measurements. This worked well for men’s clothing, however after World War I money was tighter and women wanted affordable, on trend fashion but manufacturers just couldn’t get the measurements right. There simply wasn’t a standard ratio between the bust, waist, and hips of a woman.
I then went on to find this timeline from Seamwork Magazine, which outlined the development of sizing.
- 1922 – retailer Lane Bryant coined the term ‘plus’ in advertisement for ‘ Misses Plus sizes’ referring to clothing and not women.
- 1939 – the US Department of Agriculture launched a study titled Women’s Measurements for Garment and Pattern Construction.
- 1950 – ‘Plus size’ became a noun to describe women.
- 1958 – the new voluntary sizing standards were accepted and were published as “Commercial Standard”.
- 1970 – the commercial standards were updated to “more accurately reflect the current population of women,” and the new standards became voluntary for manufacturers.
- 1983 – the voluntary standards were withdrawn. In most cases, the Misses’ and Women’s labels were eliminated as well, leaving us with just size numbers.
After watching the TED Talk and doing my own research, I feel like so many people have got so caught up in the numbers on their clothes tags and labels that they have forgot we are all so much more than that. We are all so unique and individual in our own ways and we should be more focused on that instead. It is so important to remember that sizing is only intended as a fitting guide and not as an indicator of ideal proportions.
Personally I am not bothered by sizing, it’s not something that I have been brought up to be concerned with. I have never been one size, my body has been constantly changing and developing since 15 years old and so from a young age I learnt to love my body for what it was. I hope that in terms of the future as women we all learn to love ourselves for who we are, rather than what we are not and can say confidently ” I am not a size 6 or 8, or even plus size, I am simply my size”.
Comment below and let me know your thoughts.