Nancy Roman

Above Average

Things got a little wormy –as in, ‘opening a can of’ ‘ — last week.

I wrote about my friend’s experience while shopping.  She wanted to try on a dress that another woman was holding, and the rude woman informed my friend, “It’s a six – Not a sixteen!”

I was appalled that someone could be so rude. My interpretation was “You are too fat to even try this on.”


“Too fat” and “Size sixteen” aren’t exactly synonyms.

And to those of you who reminded me of that – Thank you.  I needed reminding.

We live in weird times in a weird place.

In this country, we prize Skinny, but we keep getting fatter.

The average woman in America now weights 164.7 pounds.

By my calculation (and I calculate for a living, so I have some credibility here), that’s a size sixteen.

Therefore,  sixteen is AVERAGE.

So how come most shops only carry UP to a size sixteen?  Bigger than that and you have to go to the Plus-Size store.

Does that mean you have to be BELOW AVERAGE to shop at most stores?

This just doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been psyching myself up for bathing suit shopping by checking a lot of websites, hoping to find something stylish but mature. (So far, in seventeen hours of surfing – NADA.  But that’s another story…maybe next week.)

Anyway, here’s what purports to be a sexy look:

(Hey, I remember being that skinny; 1971.)

However, another model made headlines this week, with a nude cover for a Spanish magazine. This is Candice Huffine, who is called a PLUS-SIZED model.

This makes the skinny broad look pathetic.  Sexy?  THIS is sexy.

Candice Huffine is a size 14. Below average in America.

Let me repeat:  She’s a PLUS-SIZE model.

As I said, this is a weird time in a weird country.

So why, at sixty-one, do I not-so-secretly wish I looked like the first photo?

Maybe it’s time to change.

I always wanted to be Above Average.



  1. I know I’m going to be the odd (wo)man out on this one, but if I could snap my fingers and pick one to look like, I’d go for the second. I find larger breasts and hips very aesthetically pleasing and feminine, all the better with a smaller tummy for an hour-glass figure (working on it 😉 ). I know society doesn’t necessarily agree with me, but I’m not too worried about them.

    There’s also a big difference between someone who is a fit size 14 and a flabby size 14.


  2. Chris

    I’m a 14 upstairs and either a 16 or 18 downstairs. But according to my height, I am “Petite”. However, I’m not “petite” everywhere. I need a 14 jacket, but the sleeves are usually too long. And petite seems to end in most clothing at size 14. Unless you go to an expensive store. No petite 16s at Chadwicks, try Talbots. I can be a 14 trouser if I go to the women’s department and look for a “short” at Dress Barn. Thank God for clamdiggers and 3/4 length sleeves – now I can shop in the Misses Department. (They’re not called “clamdiggers” any more, are they?).


    • I’m encouraged by the new trend in swimsuits where you can buy the top and bottom separately – for double the price of course.
      And you may still call them clamdiggers if you wish…if you wish to sound old! 😉


      • Chris

        Hey! Yes, I also like the interchangeable tops and bottoms – and I think they just might hide my spare tire.


        • Chris

          Oh sorry – Peddle Pushers!


  3. Love the post…I know I repeat this chorus in a lot of my posts and comments, but “I wish that I knew what I know now/When I was younger”…Gravity and I are now in a high stakes war for my waist, and I look at pictures of when I was younger and stupidly thought I was too heavy – and I looked great as a size 2 or 4. Now I’m a vertically challenged size 8 and once again dislike the image in the mirror, for I can’t see my waist for my boobs). Sigh…at the end of the day there is a voice in my head that does remind me that I better love this body of mine – it’s the only one I get…whether it’s a 4 or an 8.


  4. Suzanne Tate

    We women cannot escape the conditioning (to our very genes) to want to look like the first model in your post.

    I remember back in the 60’s and early 70’s when women started to roar about being confined to “feminine” stereotypes. They burned bras, they stopped taking orders. They followed the Gloria Steinems and the Betty Friedans into what they thought was their breaking out of the mold. So what happened?

    I am involved with my granddaughters’ generation (21 and 17) and they have not only swung back to the same stereotype , they’ve overblown it. Yes, they DO demand more control of their lives, and they ARE getting farther in their careers, but they have returned to an overblown sense of selling themselves on the physical level. They don’t admit it out loud, but they know that the body, the clothes, the hair, if done just right, will have the guys on the puppet strings.

    It will never change. We had one brief shining moment and then the ‘feminine perfection’ mode re-established itself. T’was ever thus and t’will ever be…world without end…Amen.


    • I seen that myself. So much pressure on the teenage girls – I think many of them react by getting even fatter.


  5. This is the most awesome post. The drawing is of ME making those horrible decisions every minute of every day. Oh well, my husband says I look skinny “from the back”. That’s because all the blubber is in the FRONT. uGHHHH. Thanks for sharing this very insightful, though provoking piece about skinny vs. fat in strange times.


  6. Great post.

    One of the things I’ve always noticed about these emaciated fashion models is that they all look like the walking dead. Probably because they haven’t eaten since junior high.

    I prefer model no. 2, too. I bet men do as well.


    • Same, and my husband agrees. He said he appreciates the beauty of a statue, but he wouldn’t want to marry one.


  7. Well written and quite funny. Best of luck with the bathing suit.


    • It’s next week’s mission – I’ll share my adventure, if I am not too traumatized.


  8. bigsheepcommunications

    It’s so ingrained in us that anything bigger than emaciated is “fat.” Crazy. We really do need to remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.


  9. Aargh! Don’t even get me started. I’m going to eat some ice cream now.


  10. I like the miracle suit bathing suits. I am a size 14 when it comes to bathing suits, and I buy the bandeau top one, which stays on and shows off my shoulders (always the last to go). And I heard there’s a new book out called Advanced Style, featuring stylish women over 75. I’m not there yet, but they come in all shapes & sizes and look fantastic! So they’re my new role models.


    • I’ve seen the website for advanced style. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m quite old enough to pull off “eccentric”. I only achieve “crazy”.


  11. I don’t know quite how to approach this. I happen to be petite, tiny on all levels, short and thin. There have been times when I have wished for more size. When you are a woman who is petite sometimes people of both genders speak to you as if you are a small child. It’s disconcerting for me. The whole issue of perception and stereotyping never leaves us. You simply can’t win.

    When I was in highschool I had the misfortune of contracting meningitis and I lost alot of weight from an already thin body. I looked like a ghoul for the next two years as I struggled to regain my strength and put the weight back on.(the 2nd model brought this to mind)A couple of girls tortured me when I returned to school, taking delight in swiping aside with a slight gesture of the hand, like swatting a fly. They would blow on me to see if they could blow me over. What fun. This was not the reception I expected upon returning to school after a two month absence. Then there was another girl who hated me for being so lucky. She would only chew gum, refusing to eat until she was as thin as me. She was at least a foot taller than me and yet she put the demand on herself that she get her weight down to match my 96lbs. She would tell me she hated me, and she meant it. I had survived a threatening illness, and the issue when I returned to school was how much I weighed. That was about 35 years ago, and it disheartens me to see that still we have made no progress.


    • I can understand your frustration at being treated as insignificant. I see all the time, however, that large women are treated as stupid. There seems to be no way to win.


      • I think it may be less an issue of our size and more an issue of how women are preceived period. I think the no win situation is a reflection of a greater tendency to undervalue women in general. Size is the weapon, but the target is always the same – a woman’s worth.


        • Something has been needling at me all morning. The whole shebang is cleverly orchastrated not to be won. Even at the perfect size and shape as per society’s prefrence, a woman still loses. She is then a bimbo, a sex object, or even a woman of ill repute. We keep trying to find a solution to our “flaws”, yet when we truly think about it these are generally figments of an agreed upon delusion. It’s clearly time to embrace our shapes however they happen to be. Here’s to enjoying the sun and the surf in whatever suit you decide on! (stepping off soap box now :))


  12. I hate clothes shopping. I’m short and barrel-shaped. Maybe I should just wear a barrel? I might start the latest fashion trend and it would fit in with the recession.


  13. We must all be getting more body-conscious as the warm weather approaches. I spend more time each morning looking for something that doesn’t accentuate the flaws, now that I’m not adding layers of clothing. I wish, as women, we could be appreciative in the moment, of our bodies as they serve us. At forty, I looked back at my twenty year old self with awe… amazed at all the flaws I – at twenty – had been so focused on. Now, nearing sixty, I wish I had appreciated the strength and beauty I had at twenty or thirty or forty. Must I wait until I’m eighty to appreciate what I have right now?


    • I’m glad you brought that up…what a great idea for another post.


  14. Nancy, I might be misreading your intro, but just wanted to say I personally took no offense whatsoever to that previous post! I mean, except offense on your friend’s behalf because that other woman was so shockingly rude to her!

    Most people are shocked to hear 160 lbs. is a size 8 for me, and I look fairly thin at that weight. I’m a strong, well-proportioned 5’8″, and since my teenage years, have been every size from 2 to 22. The only time I’ve felt REMOTELY comfortable in my own skin was when I wasn’t trying so hard, but staying fit and eating enough. Which means somewhere in the middle (size 10-14). Maintaining that size 8 or below for me means dieting almost every single day, and it’s just not worth it. I don’t think women will ever escape being judged for our looks, but I also think it’s part of human nature. We just have to try to rise above and lead by example. …Jeez. How’s that for a public service announcement? 😉


  15. nice.



  16. Amen! I’m really not sure who dictates what’s “sexy” but they really are insance these days. Models from the 80s and 90s, like Cyndi Crawford, etc, look enormous compared to models and actresses today. Why?? Who decided that size 6 or 8 was just too big??

    And wow, that Candice Huffine is one smoking hot woman.


  17. I really love reading your posts. I especially like your illustrations. I am a plus size and it is hard to find stylish clothing. The manufacturers seem to think we don’t want the same clothing as everyone else. It is frustrating.


    • What really gets me riled up is to see the ugly prints in the plus size stores. There are so many pretty prints available…why do they give large women such horrible ones?


  18. Chris

    Really like Lori-Ann’s post. Guess we just can’t win, so we can only please ourselves. I’m technically on a “diet” from my doctor – not a lost weight diet but a “lower your cholesterol” diet, as is a lady who I eat lunch with (size 0). We sit there with our salads, which I load with fruit and non-fat feta cheese. I love what I am eating and after only a month, although I have just gone from 180 to 177, I have already achieved some degree of success. After having high blood pressure for the past two years, I found out last week that I am 110/70. WooHoo!!! I’m so pleased and proud – so this size 14 is a happy camper.


  19. You asked a question that has always puzzled me–if 14/16 is the average size, why is that the largest size on the rack? And there is at most 1. And when will they figure out there are short people size 16 and up?
    Good luck with the bathing suit–try LLBean and Lands End. They have separates that last.


  20. i hate sizes and i’m a six. the problem is my body SHAPE. i hate all the “are you pear shaped?” “apple shaped?” etc. no one makes clothes for my shape. it’s like a pear/apple/orange/mango type shape.


  21. mary i

    First photo: she needs to eat more. Second photo: Sexy and comfortable in her own skin…


  22. Thank you for this. Love the +size model, she is lovely.


  23. When I was very young (15 or so) I hated having a shape (was built like model 2) because that’s all the guys saw of me not my creative, quirky personality. I had very few girlfriends because try as I might they were jealous of what I would have gladly given up. That’s why my first husband married me, that’s why my second husband married me. Now decades and children later that voluptuous figure has gone south and I rejoice! Not that I want to be out of shape or slovenly, but my kids, grandkids and (YES!) current girlfriends have always known me for something other than my shape. When new friends see old photos they are always so surprised to find that was me in the pic. I tell them that -no there isn’t a skinny girl in me trying to get out…there was a smart girl who finally got out.


  24. Great subject, Nancy. No matter what we look like, seems across the fence there’s someone younger and better put together. Nowadays, I don’t sweat the small stuff–I stopped wearing bathings suits eons ago. Once they stopped coving up stuff, I wanted to hide, I gave up. Anyway, I wouldn’t want to see me on the beach in one of those stringy things. I might catch a cold or burn too much skin under that dangerous sun. (giggling like a 4yo)


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