Bodyweight is a sensitive and emotional issue for countless women. It’s easy to compare yourself to models. It’s even harder to conform to the fashion industry’s sizes. When something doesn’t fit, you can feel pretty bad about yourself.
But everyone (including you!) is unique and deserves to look and feel great in plus sizes. But can you cross the line from being a healthy plus size to having an unhealthy weight? Here’s what you need to know about being a plus-size, plus some styling tips!
What Is a Plus-Size?
What is a plus size? It’s hard to pin down a definite answer. According to Wikipedia, “Plus size clothing is a term given to clothing proportioned specifically for people whose bodies are larger than the average person's.” Simple, right?
Not exactly. You see, the average woman usually wears plus size clothing. In the United States, for example, depending on the brand, some plus sizes begin at sizes 6, 8 or 10. In the UK, plus sizes usually begin at 12, but like American women, most British dames wear plus sizes.
Canada’s plus sizes generally start at 16 and go up to size 28. But Canadian plus size women are actually the majority. In Australia, the average size is 14, where top model Bree Waren is considered a plus-size, measuring in at size 12.
When Does Plus Become a Health Concern?
As you can see, “plus-size” isn’t a reliable term. Instead, it’s a fluctuating category within the fashion industry that keeps pushing average women to become thinner.
Even though a plus size is an average size, it also makes room for overweight and obese women, too.
And since “plus” size includes a wide range of body weights, including healthy weights all the way up to obesity, how do you know when there’s too much plus? In other words, when does plus become a health concern?
It’s a difficult line to draw because everyone has a unique body. And everybody is influenced by a variety of factors: genetics, height, diet, and lifestyle. Is it possible to say when plus size is healthy and when it’s not?
Medical professionals and fitness instructors rely on the BMI (Body Mass Index) Formula to determine whether your size is safe. The formula takes into account your weight and height, leaving you a number between 18 and 30 or higher. 18.5-24.99 indicates a normal weight. 25-29.99 indicates overweight. And 30 or higher indicates obesity.
But one of the BMI formula’s many problems is that it’s not an accurate indicator of health. Research shows that nearly 50% of Americans are said to be overweight, according to their BMI’s, but they are actually considered healthy.
Here are just some of the reasons why that’s the case.
- The Belgian inventor, Quetelet, said that his BMI formula wasn’t meant to calculate a person’s fat levels.
- BMI doesn’t take into consideration where the fat is in the body either. And this is very important because not all fat stores are made equal. In fact, waist fat is particularly unhealthy. In fact, if a woman’s waist exceeds 35 inches or a man’s waist exceeds 40 inches, losing weight is recommended. That’s because waist fat can be a forerunner to health problems.
- BMI measures your weight but it doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscles. And muscle mass weighs more than fat. So, an athlete can have a higher BMI than a couch potato, and according to their BMI numbers, the athlete would seem overweight and potentially unhealthy.
- BMI doesn’t take into consideration ethnic groups and different body types. Caroline J Cederquist, M.D., founder of BistroMD, reminds women that not all women can be the same weight – that wouldn’t be healthy!
Even though thousands of people refer to the BMI formula to obtain an optimal and healthy weight, it isn’t always a very reliable measuring stick. So, how do we know when plus sizes are a health threat?
Health Problems Associated with Being Overweight
One of the best ways to know if you carry too much weight is to find out if you have any weight-related health problems. High blood pressure, osteoarthritis, diabetes, sleep issues, and inflammation are just some of the problems.
Obesity can also lead to serious heart problems. As you can see, there does come a point when being plus size can be harmful. So, don’t be afraid to ask a medical professional if your weight is negatively impacting your health.
But no matter what your size, remember to love your body and take good care of it. This positive mindset is healthy and much better than shaming or depriving your body.
How to Style Your Plus-Size Figure
Now, let’s get to the fun part. How should you dress it to look your best?
The first tip is to ignore the tags! It doesn’t matter if that dress is a size 6 or 12. If you love it and feel fabulous in it, it’s the perfect size for you.
Next, don’t hide behind your clothing. Clothing helps you step out and present your best self to the world. You’ve got nothing to hide!
Thirdly, find out what body shape you have. Is it hourglass, pear, apple, or rectangular? Knowing your body type can help you make smart fashion choices and accentuate your best features. For example, if you’ve got a pear shape, wear tapered pants and wide necklines. If you have an hourglass shape, play up your curves.
Finally, all colors are allowed! You’ve probably heard that black is slimming, but it’s not always slimming for everyone. So, find the colors that make you look and feel great! Stripes have a broadening effect, so you can enhance certain areas with them. When you want to make other areas look smaller, go with ruching instead.
In the end, you can use color and design to create a look that enhances your own beautiful body. Don’t worry if you’re plus size or not. Or, whether you need larger sizes than other women. What’s important is that you’re healthy and happy with your body. You deserve to love how you look and feel great in your clothes.