Mailbox | Readers size up column on in-between body types

Posted: April 15, 2007

Fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington's column on clothing for sizes 12 through 20 (Average size, plus style, April 1) attracted some reader comment. Here is a sample:

I greatly appreciated your article on the sad lack of attractive clothes in that in-between size range. We not-quite-plus folks come in all body types, though. I'm 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, and I wear a 14 or 16. I've always needed that size for the waist, sleeve and leg length, even when I was a very skinny 135 pounds. I just don't have to do as many alterations now.

When I was a young teen, I grew six inches in a year without gaining a pound. I was tube-shaped with long arms and legs, without discernible waist, bust or hips, and there was literally nothing in any size that would fit. Clothes shopping was a grim occasion. My parents' friends all told me I should be a model. Wearing what? I wondered. Nothing ever fit me.

In those days there was no such thing as a tall size, so I ended up buying clothes that were long enough but miles too wide. I learned to alter and finally to sew my own clothes, and for years I paid little attention to ready-made clothes, since they were obviously not made with me in mind.

In recent years age has rounded my figure to the point that a 14 or 16 will often fit without alteration, and manufacturers have accepted that the population is actually getting taller. But I still gnash my teeth when I see sale racks full of unsold sizes 1 and 2. Hopefully buyers will finally begin to look at what sizes sell and what linger unsold, and begin ordering what people really wear.

- Janet Kofoed, Drexel Hill

You appear to be in complete denial of the fact that it is not the clothing companies that need to broach this issue, it is the people.

Your article is a virtual plus size of euphemisms serving to defer the blame from those responsible for this problem. Full-figured used to, and should only, refer to a woman who is busty. Full-figured is not a woman whose skin is now stretched to full.

The new use of the word curvy is also a preposterous stretch. An obese woman is no longer curvy. Average to you no longer denotes the average healthy weight as identified by the surgeon general. Your average is now skewed by the unacceptable percentage of our society that is unacceptably overweight. Five-foot-4 165 pounds is not an acceptable average.

Being somewhat overweight is one thing but being obese is wrong. It is a burden on one's body, and as we can see it is becoming an increasing burden on the state. The population that appears to have a modicum of restraint at the buffet is now being taxed in the form of health-care costs to pay for the unhealthy obese. Please keep in mind that less than 1 percent of the population has a medical or physiological reason for being overweight. Nobody, repeat nobody has a medical or physiological reason for being grossly overweight or obese.

Just this morning (Monday, April 2, 2007), we heard on Good Morning America that Americans are getting shorter but wider. The scientific reason is that obesity in childhood speeds up the onset of puberty. This early puberty is having the effect of not allowing these children to reach what would be their normal height. Hence, we are getting a subgroup that is shorter but wider than the norm. So in your attempt to give your children a "positive body image," you are affecting their health and growth for the rest of their lives.

So while you close with the absurd reference to "giving your child a positive body image," remember you are actually doing them a gross injustice. While I am sure it is not their intent, perhaps you should thank the designers for not making their wares in super large, and take heed.

- Tracey A. Emore, Philadelphia


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