Are you a plus size?

What is considered a plus size? It shouldn’t be hard to define, but it is.

A plus size is supposed to be anything above size 12. Seriously. That’s, like, most of the United States.

The problem is that sizes aren’t consistent from brand to brand.¬†A size 14 in one line of clothing may be an 18 in another. It gets very confusing.

If you like to shop for clothes a lot, the easiest thing to do is periodically take your bust, waist and hip measurements. Then you can look at sizing charts to figure out your size in a particular line of clothing. You could probably end up with three different sizes from one department store.

Why do women have all these inconsistent sizes? According to Slate, the government sent out statisticians in the 1940s to measure a bunch of women to come up with standard sizes. They realized (duh!) that women were too many different shapes and sizes to standardize. So the National Institute of Standards and Technology basically told designers to make their sizes whatever they wanted, totally arbitrarily.

My husband has often remarked how much easier it would be if women’s sizes worked like men’s. You measure your waist and the length of your legs and boom! You know which pair of pants to buy. Not so in the women’s department. Torrid’s plus sizes are single digits, whereas other stores, like Lane Bryant, have double digits. It’s never the same!

That’s why size is merely a number, not a judgement. Don’t let that stupid number work on your head. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured out that 1) no one else knows the number on the tag of whatever I’m wearing and 2) going up one size usually makes you look thinner. If you’re busting out of a shirt, everyone will be staring at your buttons, waiting for one of them to pop. If you wear a shirt that fits, they’re just going to think you look smashing.

Don’t worry about shopping in stores that are labeled “plus size.” If you feel good, and think you look good, that’s the only measurement you’ll ever need.

Let’s Chat

Join the Plus Size Nerds Facebook group. We’re a fun group of women who like sharing deals and sales, and supporting each other when times get tough. It’s a closed group, so you will be asked a couple of questions, and then you’re in! After you join, be sure to introduce yourself. We’d like to say hi!

See also: Download a free style guide with tips and tricks for looking your best and finding the right fit for clothes, bras, swimsuits and more.