The way we talk about body size is always fraught with tension. Is "skinny" derogative? Is fat? Retailers tend to use "plus size" to describe larger clothing sizes, which has the advantage of being quite literal. But is it appealing? Plus-size clothing boutique Sonsi — which shares the same parent company as more well-known women's store Lane Bryant — wanted to find out. So it polled 1,000 American women sizes 14 and up to ask them: When describing your size, what term do you prefer?
The most popular term was "curvy," cosigned by 28 percent of women surveyed. But "plus-size" and "full-figured" were close, each garnering 25 percent of the results. Other women suggested their own alternatives: "Normal" and "average." With 60 percent of American women in the plus-size clothing market, that's not inaccurate.
For most people these results should mean nothing, because we shouldn't be going around commenting on other women's body sizes anyway, right? But for retailers (and advertisers, bloggers and others who can't really avoid it) this might be useful to know. Though "plus size" is pretty ingrained in retail culture now, some department stores still use the old "junior's," "misses" and "women's" designations — a reminder that the way we talk about these things is always shifting. Vintage diet-product ads provide a wealth of retro euphemisms that seem offensive or silly today (fleshy people?). But, hey, saying that real women have flesh is at least more categorically true than "real women have curves."