When it comes to confidence, size doesn’t matter.
Of the more than 6,200 plus-size women who participated in an annual survey by plus-size apparel brand JMS/Just My Size, more than 64 percent said they were “confident” or “very confident” in themselves.
Almost three-quarters of respondents said that they were more confident today than five years ago, representing a 10 point increase from 2013. More than 96 percent of survey respondents were size 16 or larger; and the average size of respondents was 22.
Plus-size women gaining more confidence
Confidence seems to breed confidence. One survey respondent noted, “In a society where being bigger is often frowned upon, a woman who can flaunt her curves with her head held high is a confident woman.”
When asked to evaluate their level of confidence in different aspects of their lives, JMS respondents highlighted strong confidence at work. More than 87 percent of respondents said they were “confident” or “very confident” in their work. “I have worked to push myself into doing things outside my comfort zone, which has made me more confident,” said another respondent.
“Culturally, the plus size fashion movement has come a long way toward giving women permission to love their bodies and embrace their curves,” agrees Mongello. “When women stop criticizing their bodies, they feel happier, project more confidence and have more fun with fashion.”
Although personal confidence for plus-size women is increasing, only 11 percent of respondents said that plus-size women are more confident than women who are not plus-size. Some respondents pointed to a gradual shift in attitudes toward plus-size women: “We are in a size acceptance movement, teaching ourselves and others to love the skin you’re in.”
While almost two-thirds of respondents said they were “confident” or “very confident” in themselves, only 48 percent said they were “confident” or “very confident” in their personal style. Additionally, only 40 percent of respondents said they dressed to flatter their shape.
“We are thrilled to see so many women talking about the role that confidence plays in their lives,” says Karen Fitzgerald, general manager of Just My Size Activewear. “We want women to feel great inside and out.”
Plus-size role models
One JMS respondent pointed to the growing number of plus-size women serving as positive role models. “I see more women who are independent and spreading the [word] that we are who we are. No apologies. That thinking has rubbed off on me.”
Plus size retailer Sonsi — owned by the same parent company as Lane Bryant — found in their own survey revealed that plus size women shy away from straight size fashion resources, models and celebrities, preferring to find their fashion inspiration among their plus size peers, and from plus size icons like Adele, Melissa McCarthy and Gabourey Sidibe. They’re also embracing the many resources — including plus size pages in national fashion magazines, plus size bloggers and runway shows, like Full Figured Fashion Week — that have emerged to support this silent majority.
“With plus size women gracing the pages of leading fashion magazines as well as the runways at New York Fashion Week, curvy women should feel good that they finally have a voice,” says Kristin Mongello, Sonsi Director of E-commerce.
Plus stylist and fashion icon Reah Norman applauds the movement’s momentum. “Growing up as a plus size teenager in the ’90s, there weren’t many stylish options for women my size. My fashion choices were extremely limited. In those days, if I wanted to look fashionable, I had to repurpose menswear and sew my own clothes,” she says. “Today, thankfully, plus size women of all ages have lots of fashionable choices, as well as a growing stable of beautiful, successful style icons they are proud to emulate.”