What Is Considered Plus-Sized?

In the world of fashion, plus-size denotes any woman over a size 8 while in the commercial world plus-sized is more typically used to refer to women over a size 16, according to Cosmopolitan magazine. This divergence occurs because of cultural beauty standards and ideas about normal weight, as well as because of the prevalence of thinness in the modeling industry of high fashion.

The size number which denotes plus-sized status changes with time and depends on the internal trends of the fashion industry. It has, at various times, ranged from size 4 all the way to size 12. These numbers have been cited by many self-identified plus-sized women as unrealistic and out of touch.

The plus-sized designation has been accused of fostering body image issues in women around the world by promoting unrealistic images of ideal womanhood. The fashion world has promoted thinness in its models for decades and only in the 2000s and 2010s has it begun to accept larger women as viable models.

The difference between the private modeling sector and the public commercial sector can be explained by subcultural norms within the fashion world. Plus sizes skew much larger in commercial fashion where clothes have to actually appeal to women and fit their bodies in order to make money.