To paraphrase Mary Poppins, ‘I am practically average in every way’ – physically, at least! I am the average height, average bra size, and average clothing size for a woman in the UK, which obviously means my body type is not reflected in fashion at all. Makes sense, right?
Typically, the fashion industry caters towards what is called ‘straight size’ – the body types you see on runways, running around in perfume ads, and plastered on the sides of H&M and Primark. Slender bodies, normally size 10 and under, with petite features (aaaaand normally white, but that’s a blog post for another day). Over the past decade or so (and with a lot of pushing from the excellent body positivity movement), ‘plus size’ lines have been introduced with names such as ‘Curve’, ‘Real’, and ‘Plus Beauty’. These lines tend to cater for clothing sizes 18 and above (but plus size models tend to be size 12-16… but that’s another blog post for another day).
‘Straight size’ clothing tends to be the norm in clothes shops and the sizes cover everything from size 0, up to size 16. However, those clothes are designed for slim bodies, and are just simply made bigger as the sizes go up, which isn’t really how body types work. So, here arises the issue – what if you aren’t a slim body, aren’t plus-size but still struggle to find clothes that fit you in the shops? Let me present to you – mid-size!
Mid-size isn’t a fashion retailer recognised term yet, it’s more of an internet movement. The term was started by Anushka Moore on her Insta account @midsizecollective, as a way to celebrate and recognise “not petite but not plus-sized” fashion, normally for those women who are sized 12-18. However, more realistically, it represents the small group of people who are not plus-size yet struggle to find clothing for their size in straight-size clothing. Typically, this size 14 to 18 folks. The term has kind of taken on a mind of its own, with bloggers and influencers celebrating their own mid-size bodies, and promoting brands who work well to cater for mid-size sizes.
I practically came out of the womb a mid-sized lady (I’m kidding, let’s not go applying body sizes and types to children, that’s stupid and reductive). What I mean is, as soon as I became a teenager, grew into my hips and boobs, I said goodbye to straight-size fits, and hello to struggling to fit in one set size. I currently range from a size 14 to size 18, and this differs in every clothing shop and type of item! All my jeans have to be a size up so they fit my hips, but means they are so baggy around the waist or I can’t a relevant size because shops don’t like to cater plus-sizes. Similarly, I go for floaty skirts in smaller sizes so they stay up around my waist! And shopping for blouses? They either fit around the boobs and are baggy around the middle, or fit around the middle and are held together with pins around the boobs. There’s just no winning. This isn’t to say all mid-sized bodies follow my body type of having an hour-glass figure. Mid-size covers anything not-straight-sized (and not deemed plus), which means if we don’t have a slim or straight figure, we’re not catered for.
In regards to social media, I am 100% more likely to follow bloggers or brands that talk about and represent mid- and plus-sizes. Look, all body types are beautiful, and no-one should be shamed for how they look, and that’s why representation is important. Do you know how excited I get when I see mid or plus sized models wearing main brand clothes? Especially if the clothes actually fit correctly?! I’m heckin’ overjoyed! Joanie is great at this, and I know ASOS is getting much better. We need to normalise belly rolls, broad shoulders, softness, and cellulite. Where do I get to see that representation? In mid-size (and plus-size) spaces. I tend to find these spaces on Instagram, in the form of bloggers or IG-ers. My favourites include Helen Anderson (bold, Seventies, and Western styles), Nicole Ocran (bright colours and floaty fits), and Lucy Wood (lights, brights, and Disney) – you should really check them out!
Whether you are straight-size, plus-size, or mid-size, it’s about time the fashion industry moved on to represent us all. This includes using all bodies in advertising, understanding that bigger clothing sizes shouldn’t just be straight-sized clothes that are plussed, and just normalising the average or bigger body. It should go without saying that all bodies are beautiful and need to be valued, so why not act like it?
Recently, there’s been a lot of discourse online about people’s opinions of mid-size, if the term is required, and why people call themselves mid-size. Check out my post ‘Is Being Mid-Size Anti-Fat?’ for a deeper chat on this discourse. I’d love to know your thoughts!
(I have to add – no-one needs to identify with any type of body. Personally, it helps me to call myself mid-size; to call myself plus-size would be deflecting from the plus-size movement, because I am not plus-size. In the grand scheme of things, if you are mid-size, you do not experience the same issues and industry mistreatment as people who are plus-size. Simple as.)
Let me know what you think of body representation in fashion, and if you’ve got any favourite mid-size IG-ers or bloggers – I’d love to know!