Society, Fashion, and Being a Plus-size Woman

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Beauty is a reflection of the ideals of society at any given point in history. Currently, in western society a tall thin silhouette is considered the ideal figure for females. The apparel industry reflects this ideal in both the design and marketing of fashion. Although this may be the ideal it is not the reality. It is estimated that 70 percent of adult females in the US wear apparel sized fourteen or larger, which is considered plus-size by the apparel industry. Past research has revealed that the latest clothing styles featured in advertisements are often not available in plus-sizes; and participants have reported they often experience difficulty finding garments they find appealing and that permit them to express their personal style. This mixed-methods study used Rosenburg’s ten-item self-esteem scale to explore the relationship between being a plus-size woman and self-esteem among African American, Caucasian, and Latina women. 3D body scans were taken and in-depth interviews conducted with participants. Significant differences regarding self-esteem and being a plus-size woman were observed among ethnicity, income, education, relationship status, and whether or not the participant had children, indicating multiple variables impact how a woman feels about herself when compared to the social ideal.