The average woman in the US wears a size 14 — according to outdated information. A new study published in August in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education decided to create a more current report.
What the study found was that size 14 is no longer accurate; the average American woman today is actually between a size 16 to 18.
The authors of the study looked at recent data from the Center for Disease Control and compared it to the ASTM International body measurements for "misses" and "women's plus-size" clothing for a sample of more than 5,500 women in the US who are at least 20 years old.
The authors found that the average American woman's waist circumference has increased 2.6"(from 34.9" to 37.5") over the last 21 years, which accounts for the increase in clothing size. While 16-18 was the average size for all women, the study found that Black women in particular currently wear a size 18-20 on average.
Many people still "present the average American woman size 14 as ‘fact,'" the authors write in the study, when it's no longer true. "It could be said that the size 14 fact was used so frequently and with little fact checking because it was, and still is, a critical reference point."
However, the reference point needs updating.
Many women compare themselves to "the mythical clothing size 14," the study says, and most likely worry about how they differ. In conducting the study, the researchers write that they hope "that women may be relieved in knowing the average clothing size worn is larger than [they] thought," and that it alters the public's perception of "average" size.
Especially in an industry where it's so difficult to find clothing above a size 14 outside of plus-size-specific stores, Dr. Deborah Christel, one of the study's authors, told Revelist, "I am hoping this will help nudge the fashion industry to seriously consider expanding their sizes."
We hope so, too.
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