Change the Sample Size, Change the World!

Why is the average designer sample size a 2 when the average woman is a size 12?

Vogue editors recently signed a letter in support of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s initiative to promote a healthier body image for women in the fashion industry. No longer will the magazine feature models who appear to have an eating disorder or who are under the age of 16.

This is certainly a step in the right direction, but I believe if the council could get designers to change their sample sizes, the impact on women’s health and self-esteem in general would be phenomenal.

The term “sample size” refers to the size of the garment that designers initially create as part of their new collection. They only produce a few of these “sample” pieces to be shown in fashion shows and photographed for magazines prior to mass production. Currently, the sample size is either a 0 or a 2. Therefore, the models used in runway shows or photographed for fashion magazines must fit the sample size. My question is, when did the sample size become so small?

Do you realize that in today’s culture, the ultimate sex-symbol of all time Marilyn Monroe would be considered “plus-sized?” There is a lot of controversy over her actual size, but most agree that Marilyn was a size 8-10.  Back in the 90s, Cindy Crawford was the reigning supermodel of her time, and she was a size 6. Even Victoria’s Secret supermodel Doutzen Kroes stated that she fit into the samples sizes, “once..when she was eleven.” (Kroes was instrumental in helping draft the CFDA health initiative. Kudos to her.)

The real problem with the sample size being so small is what it does to average women’s psyche and self-esteem. Think about it. When you’re wearing a wrap dress that shows off your shape and a man compliments you, you’d probably think it was nice (and/or perverse, depending on the man.) But if another woman said to you, “Wow, you look so skinny…have you lost weight?” – you’d light up like a Christmas tree! I know I would! (Sorry guys, but we actually don’t dress for you, we dress to be complimented by other women.)

Since the average size woman is a 12 and the average sized model is a 0 or 2, I propose the designers set their sample size right in the middle at a size 6. Make that the new “normal” size for models. This would be the greatest step to really promoting a healthy body image for all women – including models and us “average” girls. Especially since designers give their clothes to the models and expect us real women to pay (a lot) for them.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Change the Sample Size, Change the World!

  1. I completely agree! I’m 5″1 and 114 pounds, but I also live in Los Angeles and feel constant pressure to be a size zero, which for me is about 102 pounds. I’ve tried, I’m a Vegan and work out, but unless I stop eating (otherwise known as The Breakup Diet), I’m not a size zero. Way too much pressure to be invisible from the side, a common thing for L.A. women to strive for.


  2. If you don’t like it, then start your own clothing line, make your own magazine, and have your own fashion shows. Who’s stopping you? Seriously. Have you seen the clothes they sell lately? Maye their fine where you are, but here in Texas, people are running around wearing towels and crepe paper. The world is screaming for something new. I suggest we bring back fashions from the 1940s-1950s. You know, the rockabilly look. Maybe add a punk rock twist to it.


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