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How Do You Define Plus Size?

The medical community uses a tool called the Body Mass Index chart to classify underweight, overweight and obesity for adults.

According to the BMI chart, I'm morbidly obese.

Yet, when I ask myself, ‘how do you define plus size' the word obese is completely out of the equation. 

plus size pregnancy BMI chart

When I first decided to write a blog about being a large woman who had a healthy pregnancy and positive birth experience, I had a tough time selecting a name.

There are so many different words to describe being of large stature; plus size, fat, overweight, obese, curvy, fluffy, big boned, chubby, curvaceous, voluptuous, stocky, plump, BBW, heavy set, zaftig, and so on.

I've fully comfortable self-identifying as plus size (and even don't mind fat) so after a few hours of tossing ideas around I came up with Plus Size Mommy Memoirs (now shortened to Plus Mommy).

On the Plus Mommy Facebook page people sometimes ask how I define plus size and when does someone become plus size.

What Does Plus Size Mean?

I define being plus size as wearing a larger clothing size.

Most stores start their women's section with size 12 or 14 so when I reached that size I started to consider myself plus size.

The dictionary also defines plus size in relationship to clothing size.

plus size
1. (Clothing & Fashion)

a. a clothing size designed for people who are above the average sizel

I asked the Plus Mommy community, “How Do You Define Plus Size (or when did you start to self-identify as plus size)?” The thread received over 180 comments and most of the responses aligned with my view of plus size meaning a clothing size.

Below is a sampling to show some of the different answers.

  • Two words: Lane Bryant.
  • When I grew out of Hot Topic, and headed for Torrid. What a better choice!
  • When the back of my bra had 4 hooks instead of 2.
  • I felt confident in my own skin to admit it and knew it wasn't a bad thing that I didn't feel bad about myself.
  • When I applied for a drivers license my family made me lie on the weight

People who join my Facebook page and community self-identify as plus size. I don't have weight requirements – that's just silly!

We live in a society where anyone beyond a size 10 is shamed because of their size.

Where someone weighing 211 lbs can be told they need to have a cesarean birth based on their weight alone.

We are inundated with messages that our bodies are wrong.lSo if someone wants to be part of my community – I welcome them!

Even if they don't look very large in their Facebook profile photo – because heck I look about 100 lbs smaller in mine.

While I define plus size as a clothing size, I'm less concerned about how individuals “define plus size”. I'm far more concerned about providing supportive resources and a welcoming community where people feel supported!

Jen McLellan, CBE
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Margaret Smith

Sunday 12th of October 2014

I call myself curvy. And I don't ever feel bad of this. Its the confident which is an evident on how we plus size ladies show off their beauty and style.


Thursday 9th of January 2014

I call myself fat. It took me a while to get to the point were I could use that word and not focus on the negative connotations. Actually, my husband helped a lot. He would call me fat as if it was the sexiest thing ever. When others have heard me call myself fat they always want to correct me "oh no, your not fat!". I actually like this because then I get to have a conversation with them about how I am fat but that is not a bad thing. That I am ok with it (most of the time). My mom had the hardest time adjusting to my use of the word but I think it has been good for her. I have enjoyed my personal reclaiming of the word fat.


Tuesday 14th of January 2014

Scottie, i too have to remember to think positively of myself when it comes to the words: fat, obese, big or large... or even the more medical term obese or morbidly obese (which I am labeled). I love the fact that i too have the support of a wonderful husband who still sees me as the sexiest thing ever, even when I don't. If I call myself a "whale out of water" or something else demeaning, he quickly corrects me and then proceeds to tell me how beautiful I am... Though I don't always believe him, it does put the hurtful thoughts out of my mind and I am able to continue focusing on the positive of everything. I grew up being large, plus-sized, and going through high school was NOT the funnest time... but in the end, I've become able to look at myself in the mirror - true at first I see the negative, but then I do my best to smile and remember that my husband still sees me as pretty, sexy, and he's always making it a point to tell me so.

So kudos to the men out there who think big/plus-sized women are sexy and beautiful, because EVERYONE is!


Thursday 9th of January 2014

I agree with you! It has taken me awhile to see the word fat as anything besides something negative. I kind of embrace it now but still prefer to be called plus size. I think that's so neat how your husband helped you to embrace it!