Unapologetically Size 14

Today, I’d like you all to meet and welcome the totally fabulous Joi of In My Joi! I’m so happy that this smart, stylish, insightful woman has agreed to contribute posts. If you don’t already know Joi, do check out her blog. Her outfits are incredible and she’s a master thrifter to boot. Thanks for joining us, Joi!

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This is my very first post as a Contributor to Already Pretty!

First I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Sally for inviting me to join her team and for all of the assistance that she has given me since I came on board!!! Secondly, I’d like to say “Hello” to all of YOU {waves hand} and “Thank YOU so much” for reading! I hope that we become longtime pals!

@InMyJoi

In to today’s post

I wear sizes 12 and 14. Actually, I’ve worn a size 14 more than half of my life. Yet, I don’t consider myself to BE a “14.” Have you ever heard someone say: “Oh I’m a 6” or “I’m an 8”? I refrain from saying “I am a 14” because the clothing size that I wear does not reflect who I am. In actuality, the number“14”is meaningless; It simply labels size dimensions of clothing that I wear.

Now let me tell you, size 14 is a very interesting size to wear, to put it mildly. Why? Well it appears that wearing a size 14 plants my body smack in the middle of either being loved/coveted or despised/shamed by others. What do I mean? I have observed quite an interesting paradox in the world of size-ism! I often find myself wondering: Where does a woman who wears the same size as me fit in? From my experience, there are several angles. I will discuss two today. There seem to be distinctively different groups of opinions about “size 14.” I was all too familiar with one set of opinions, but I recently became exposed to another set of opinions, after I began sharing my style as a plus size style blogger.

Hypothetical Group #1

Women in Group 1 wear what may be considered small size(s). It appears that they despise, yes detest, the idea of gaining enough weight that would require them to wear a size 14. Reaching a size 14 seems to indicate that they have failed in an overwhelming way in the scheme of life. That size label triggers negative connotations in their minds, one that even seems to shout: I am fat, I am ugly, and I am unattractive. As a result, those in this group would do just about anything, yes almost everything, from starving themselves to undergoing surgery, all with the effort of avoiding wearing clothes labeled size 14. At times women with this mindset look at me in disgust, seemingly thinking “How dare you have the nerve to be content at that size.” Others may surmise: “Hmm, you have so much potential, if only you lost …”

Hypothetical Group #2

On the other hand, there are women who wear sizes 18+ who may or may not want to lose weight to wear size 14 clothing. Some may feel similar negative connotations about themselves: I am fat, I am ugly, and I am unattractive. They may have tried various methods to lose weight. At times failed attempts have left them feeling bitter, unhappy, and even hopeless (which can be the most dangerous of the three; Everyone needs hope). Others have decided that “It Is What It Is”, and they, like myself, are not on a mission to change their body in any drastic way. Larger women with this mindset seem to look at me with a different distaste. “How dare you refer to yourself as plus-size?”  “You’re not big enough to be considered plus size.” “You’re not a real plus-size woman.”

What the facts indicate:

  1. The majority of women in the United States are considered overweight. Business Insider states that plus-sizes account for 67 percent of our population.
  2. Most American women wear a size 14, making it in actuality the “average” size.
  3. Despite size 14 being worn by the majority, it is among the least purchased sizes from many manufacturers! For some reason, wearing a size 14 does not equal buying a size 14, according to a Cleveland News website. The most common size worn by women in America, size 14, is actually less available from retailers than smaller or larger sizes.

Recently there have been a number of instances in the press calling out the need for fashion and retail leaders to get on board with the demand for plus size clothing. There was even a write-up featuring plus-size bloggers over size 22. I think that’s all fantastic. However, it does leave me wondering if size 14 will be continued to be overlooked, and undermined. If the average woman wears a size 14, when will retail stores overstock this size? When will the majority of images of women in the media, advertisements, and elsewhere reflect an average height, and averaged size woman? When will women who wear a size 14 be addressed?

I’m not holding my breath on this one … But in the meantime, I will continue to wear a size 14. I am not sorry for wearing a size 14 or ashamed. I like wearing a size 14! I am not on a diet or fitness plan. I have neither the desire or the curiosity to learn of real and or fictional benefits and advantages that await me if only I were to embark on a new diet, etc, etc … Truly, I am unapologetically size 14.

Facts referenced from the following sources:
http://www.refinery29.com/plus-size-problems#slide
http://www.cleveland.com/style/index.ssf/2010/08/size_14_is_average_american_wo.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/why-isnt-plus-size-bigger-2012-12

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I’m Joi and I blog my personal style via In My Joi. I’ve always enjoyed dressing up, yet notably, my personal style took on new dimensions when I hit my 30’s. You’ll find me saturated in bright colors, draped in vintage, and topped in hats. Occasionally I venture off to black and white combinations or take a playful dabble in mixed prints. It has been said that style is a way to express who you are, without having to speak. I wholeheartedly concur. Each day of life offers up a blank canvas, a fresh opportunity to use style to express different dimensions of my authentic self. Join my style adventures via Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook!

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  • Rebekah Jaunty

    Joi, welcome. (Can a reader welcome a writer?) Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts in the future— love your perspective and attitude!

    • Hi Rebekah and thank you!!!

  • jan.4987

    Hi! I love your look in that picture!

    I also love how frankly, simply and sympathetically you’ve broken this situation down. It’s funny how there’s always some issue or other that makes our own size category a complex place to be regardless of which it is, isn’t it? I’ve always wondered how I should even refer to sizes around 14; for now I tend to go with “average-ish”, but what people think when they hear that varies so much it’s less than ideal.

    • Thank you! Isn’t that funny? Yes, being called “average” doesn’t always feel flattering

  • Rija

    Here’s a women from group three….whatever you are is just perfect.

    • Agreed, all women should love the skin they are in, we are all beautifully made 🙂

  • Monica H

    Welcome Joi! I do often wonder about the paradox you mention – that size 14 and plus sizes in general are very common in the population, and yet this does not seem to translate into clothing sales which prompt stores to address this market. I know some attribute this to “size-ism” among retailers, and while that is possible, I’ve never seen retailers shy away from doing anything that might possibly make them money! Somehow this doesn’t quite add up.

    I look forward to your future posts about this, and I’m glad you aren’t apologizing for wearing size 14. Obviously you are in very good company and this is a size range that needs to be addressed in fashion.

    • I agree, it just doesn’t add up. Thank you for the warm welcome!!

  • Linda B

    Can you fix the link to Joi’s blog? I’d love to see it but it isn’t working.

  • Manette Mattingly Gutterman

    I’m a 14 too! We will not be ignored!

  • Nebraskim

    Size 14 is like the shoe size 9.5. That is a shoe size that is almost impossible to find. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been told “oh, we get so many requests for that size but we don’t carry it.” WHY NOT? I’m eager to read more of your comments. Thanks for adding Joi to the blog, Sally.

    • crtfly

      I think it is so odd that retailers aren’t more eager to stock what people are constantly asking for. Maybe I’m missing something but I though the purpose of retail is to sell items and make money. We can’t fork over our money if you don’t have what we want to buy!

    • I had no idea 9.5 was hard to find, I thought 8.5 was hard to find, LOL!! Thank you! Yes, lets ask them: “WHY NOT”????!?

  • Alison Boncha

    FYI the link is broken that should point to http://inmyjoi.blogspot.com/ ! Love this post and her blog!

  • I’ve always been in that size 12/14/16 grey area — straight sizes don’t go up high enough for my body (or there’s less availability) but I am not shaped like the expected body shape for the small end of plus sizes. It’s a pain.

    • I like that, it is truly is a “grey area”! Shopping should be enjoyable, not a pain 🙁

  • Ilaniel

    I’ve never commented on here before, but I had to because I too am a size 14 and this is pretty much exactly my experience. The smaller-sized women I know seem to consider being my size as their greatest fear in life (never explicitly stated, of course, but you can tell) and the larger-sized women seem to either envy me or get annoyed if I bring up the difficulty of finding clothes that fit me well. (Often 14 is too large to be included straight-size lines; but too small to be in plus-size lines. Ah well.) Anyway, thanks for this terrific write-up, it really encapsulates my experience as well. And your outfits are fantastic, too, but you already know that I’m sure!

    • I’m so excited that this is your first comment! Welcome & thank you!!!

  • Ginger

    I have an acquaintance with size 14. If clothing, mostly pants, are sized to standard sizes, like they used to use in the 50s & 60s then I need a 14. If they’re sized to today’s sizing I take a 12, sometimes a 10 depending on the manufacture.

    You look nicely proportioned. My gripe is being a size 14 skirt/pant/waist and a size 8-10 top. It’s hard to find dresses to fit.

    • Hi Ginger, thanks for sharing your gripe! It is hard to find designers that make clothing with different body shapes in mind. My top is smaller than my bottom, but my boobage makes up for the lost space- LOL!

  • Lauren Meeks

    Congrats on your first write up with Already Pretty! I was shocked to learn not too long ago that the average woman is a 14 because the world(retailers) acts as though she’s a 6. I think whichever size you fall in, it is the retailers’ responsibility to provide clothing IN the store and online.

    • Hey Lauren, Hey!!! I agree, the retailer bears the responsibility of providing options IN store and online for it’s entire customer base!
      XO

  • marshacwp

    Hi Joi! I’m about the same size you are, and I’m constantly frustrated finding clothes in my “average” size. I’m either too fat or not fat enough. I also have the added frustration of being “average” height–which for American women is 5’4″ to 5’5″–so many times petite clothing is too short but average length is way too long. It’s not easy being average!

    • I’m average height too! It is oh so frustrating!!

  • mendotawaves

    Welcome Joi! I too fall in that range, which often seems to find “out of 14” at the store, or too big for regular 14 too small for a 14 W and almost always, pants too long. I really enjoyed the many looks you present so well on your blog, and that you often thrift. Thrifting gives many opportunities for variety. Almost too tempting, when space is at a premium.

    • Thank you for the warm welcome! Thrifting is an obsession all on it’s own, I love the quality and variety that it offers! Perhaps that should be an upcoming post!

  • Eep! Sorry about the broken links, all. Thanks for the heads up and they’re all fixed now.

  • Une femme

    Hi Joi, great article! I wasn’t aware that size 14’s were the least purchased. I have friends in this size range who have told me that that they fall into a gap sometimes between the two ranges of sizes, and how frustrating that is. You have such fun, fabulous style!!

    • Thank you very much Une femme!

  • Rb

    The fact that the “average” American woman wears a size 14 does not mean it is the most common size. That is confusing the statistical mode with the mean. Think if it this way: if the world were made up of 50 women who wore size 8 and 50 women who wore size 20, the average size would be 14, yet not one of these women wear a size 14.

    When I think about what is in stores it looks a lot like this to me. There is quite a lot available at the lower single digit end of the size range, and then there are the plus size stores or departments which are clustered around size 20w.

    So if 14 really is not a common actual size but just a weighted average of these two ends of the spectrum, this may be why it is difficult to find your size.

    Of course the quality is not the same at the two ends of this spectrum either and I hope you will cover that issue soon! I wear the lower end of the plus size range and find it difficult to find well made well fitting clothing.

    • According to what research indicates, a size 14 is the average size and most common. Meaning, more women in the US (and several other countries) actually wear a size 14 than any other clothing sizes.

      Regarding the quality of some the clothing offered solely to plus sized women, I concur! In my opinion, the quality is inferior. I have the option to shop off the rack in major retailers for regular sizes, as well as the smaller plus sizes. When I buy designer pieces, the quality almost always trumps ’boutique’ pieces, hands down! It seems that a few plus size designers are now offering “high-end” plus size fashion, which I assume mirrors the quality of mainstream designers in major retailers, yet the prices are significantly different.

  • Liz

    Welcome Joi! When I scrolled down to your picture my eyes lit up, you looked so fabulous!
    Unfortunately, I think most fashion designers seem to think primarily about clothes as an end in themselves, or as the clothes would look on their ideal woman. The clothes could wave around on hangers and I think most designers wouldn’t care as long as their work impressed other designers and people in the fashion world.
    There’s a prominent designer whose promos appear on PBS (I see them when I watch Downton Abbey). He explains that his creative process begins when he conjures up his ideal woman, his heroine, and creates a “story” for her. The promo shows someone painting this ideal woman, not studying various types of real women!
    In any case, his ideal woman appears to be rich and thin, by the look of the model who shows up at the end of the promo.
    The key word here is ideal. Don’t fit his ideal and you probably don’t fit his clothes. Too bad for most of us if the designer is off on a fantasy journey!
    Mass manufacturers just borrow and change the lines created by designers without caring either that someone real actually has to wear the clothing. Fashion cycles move so fast that they don’t have time to worry much about fit if they want to make money. The wearer is supposed to accommodate herself to the clothes somehow, and if she doesn’t, she’s supposed to feel bad.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that designers and manufacturers don’t care and probably won’t change as long as fashion–as defined by specific people (usually men)–is seen as something to aspire to, to covet, and to judge others by.

    • I know exactly which designer you refer to, as I am a fan of Downton Abbey 🙂
      Yes, here is where “ideal” comes into play. Everyone has a different ideal, yet there is this “rule” that keeps reappearing enforcing the cause that each individual should have the same ideal!

  • Jenn

    I’m a size 18, and I experience the same dichotomy. I post a lot of body-positive messages on my FB, my latest being a picture of me in skinny jeans with the #EffYourBeautyStandards hashtag. I’m all about loving the body I have and encouraging other women to do the same! I find that my friends who are around my size or larger respond really well to those posts, even the ones who are actively trying to lose weight, while my thinner friends never like those posts or leave comments. I really wonder about that sometimes – is it because they are not happy in their bodies, or because they think I shouldn’t be happy in mine because it is large? Do they find it upsetting that I refuse to conform to the beauty standards they do conform to, whether by luck or hard work? I find it interesting that not a single one of my thinner friends will like a body positive post. Anyway, welcome!

    • Monica H

      Jenn, I don’t know your friends, and all of the possibilities you suggest are possible. Also I think that there has been a lot of programming in our culture that large size = unhealthy, and that somehow if people support you being OK with your body they are supporting you being unhealthy. Of course, those of us who have looked critically at this issue recognize how problematic this idea is, but it is very prevalent, to the point that a large number of people believe it. I suspect this may be some of what’s behind your friends’ behavior, at least assuming they are really people who do want good things for you.

    • Jenn I’ve noticed something similar about my thinner peers 🙂 In the back of my mind, I truly feel that the overall consensus is that women should not be happy in larger bodies. Take for example all of the body shaming propaganda pushed via TV, magazines, and now social media. Thanks for sharing your experience, it is very interesting!

  • Shaina D

    Thank you for this post. Size 14 is such a weird place to be. I spotted an advertisement for a plus-sized body-positive clothing swap in my city, and thought, “Cool, a way to score some free clothes and meet some friendly people!” Except when I went to their website to find out more, I found that they’re only open to clothes and people that are size 18 and up. The section of the FAQ that explained this decision basically said that sizes 14 and 16 aren’t really plus-sized, and including them would be upsetting for people who wear larger sizes. As someone on that 14/16 boundary, that made me feel pretty crappy, like nowhere was going to accept my body — I’m too fat for mainstream acceptance, and not fat enough for “body-positive” acceptance. It’s frustrating.

    • Isn’t it a very weird place to be?! I whole-heartedly concur! Although the research continues to indicate that the majority of women wear this size, it is still not ‘accepted’ on either side of the spectrum, which is very confusing to me. I totally feel your frustration!

  • Glenda Harrison

    Congrats on your contribution to Already Pretty. You have a whirlwind of insightful wisdom to share and I’m sure the readers will enjoi 🙂 your information very much.
    I was once a size 12/14, but because I am very small framed that size was too much for me health wise. There are many reasons why people lose weight. Vanity isn’t always the reason.

    • Thank you Glenda! I can definitely understand the fact that some have to lose weight, irregardless of the size that they wear, for health purposes. Life is precious! I wrote about my personal feelings on wearing a size 14 and the varying perceptions that I have personally experienced. I don’t have any health issues to date, I refused to feel ashamed of wearing a size 14!
      Xx