'Plus-sized' women reshaping retail industry - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

'Plus-sized' women reshaping retail industry

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

You might remember the video that went viral of a Wisconsin news anchor who got an insulting email from a viewer about her weight.

Jennifer Livingston shot back with a 10-minute smack down on air days after she got the e-mail.

The viewer who wrote to her didn't think Jennifer represented the average American woman.

Do some digging, and you might be surprised to find that the average American woman is actually around size 12 to 14.

And those so-called "plus-size" women are re-shaping the retail and fashion industries.

Model Brittany Cordts knows that first hand.

"Whenever I say I'm a plus size model, everyone's like, what? You're a plus size?" says 23-year-old Cordts, who is a size 14. "I think I'm a living example to everyone that you can be healthy and not a size 2."

A size 2 may be what high fashion magazines and retail racks tend to favor, but most ordinary women are voluptuous just as they were back in the day.

"It used to be, and still is in some places, that being plumper was associated with wealth, health and attractiveness," said USF anthropology professor David Himmelgreen.

He added that body mass has evolved and women have gotten bigger over time.

"As food became more plentiful, physiologically, we've done a really good job of storing that food energy in the form of fat," he said.

Body image has also changed from the glamour days of Marilyn Monroe, who was the equivalent of today's size 8, to the stick thin days of Twiggy, who introduced a new era of skinny models.

Kevin Carson, vice president of DJE store fixtures in Plant City said, "Average size for a mannequin is usually a four to six. We do have some 2's, but they're getting bigger."

In fact, his biggest demand is for larger models.

"When I get my hands on 'em, I sell 'em immediately, usually within a day or two," said Carson.

For most women like Brittany, seeing a dress on a model with a tiny waist is a complete waste of her time.

"I'll say, yeah that outfit looks great on that model, I know that's not gonna be what it looks like when I go try it on in the dressing room though," she said.

Plus sizes women are reshaping the retail industry, and not just at big department stores. Even at small boutiques, customers want a wider selection.

Tammie Jones with Downtown Divas Boutique in Brandon said retailers have made the change to bigger sizes, "Cause they're the ones that are gonna do the shopping and spend the money."

And catering to a style that fits, is great news for the average American woman, like Brittany.

"I can see that movement sort of breaking through the fashion industry and I think there's definitely more to come."

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