Anyway, so. Saw this at Pandagon, which along with Eschaton and Talking Points Memo is my main source of info about what's going on in the world: Sizing Up America: Signs of Expansion, possibly reg-required at the NYTimes:
Over all, the new measurements shake up what have long been considered the average outlines of the American body. For years, an average woman was thought to be a size 8, although some circles had bumped that up to size 12 in recent years. But even the women who came in on the small side in the SizeUSA survey look more like what the longtime clothing industry standards would consider a size 14 the size at which "plus size" clothing begins.
Industry standards set a size 8 at a 35-inch bust, a 27-inch waist, and 37.5-inch hip. In the survey, white women ages 18 to 25 came in, on average, 38-32-41, with white women ages 36 to 45 coming in at 41-34-43. (Barbie, long the plastic bane of body image, is said to have measurements that project to about 39-18-33.) In that same age group, black women measure, on average, 43-37-46, Hispanic women 42.5-36-44, and "other" women, which researchers said meant mostly Asian, 41-35-43.
Similarly, most men are larger than the traditional 40 regular, long considered the average. A 40 regular, according to standards, means a 40-inch chest, 34-inch waist, and 40-inch hip, with a 15.5-inch collar. In the survey, white men ages 18 to 25 had, on average, a 41-inch chest, 35-inch waist, 41-inch hips and a 16-inch collar (that is raw neck size shirts are generally sized at least a half-inch bigger). From the ages of 36 to 45, white men came in at 44-38-42, black men 43-37-42, Hispanic men 44-38-42 and "other" 42-37-41.
"Waists are the first problem, " said Jim Lovejoy, the director of SizeUSA and a director at TC2, the Cary, N.C., technology firm whose machines did the survey. "The numbers show that we're complex, but we're definitely getting heavier, and it's primarily in the waist and the hips follow the waist."
You also find "Large and Lovely" women sexy. In addition to their full figures, these women typically have strikingly beautiful faces. Their big eyes and open (rather than crowded) faces convey a sense of warmth and acceptance that puts people at ease. Most have relatively beautiful skin, small noses and very full, luscious lips. They also take pride in their flawless makeup and long, gorgeous hair. Since the media tends to focus on very thin women, you may be surprised to learn that almost half of men (44%) say lovely, large women are among their favorite types.
Again, no surprises here, but this was determined (supposedly; ain't sure about their methodology) by giving the test-taker illustrations of two body types and asking you to click the one you preferred. Wondered at the time how the drawings matched up against actual clothes sizes, because I don't think even the far end was a size 14.
Apparently, I'm the median height for a woman in the US. Yay me.
Also, going back to the Times article:
The real differences were between race and ethnicities, and age groups. White women were most likely to have a protruding stomach, sticking out an inch or more from the waist what Mr. Lovejoy called "a little bit of a tummy." Eleven percent of white women were labeled thus, compared with 3 percent of Hispanic women, 4 percent of black women, and 7 percent of those classified "other." Twenty percent of Hispanic women had "full waists" compared with 10 percent of white women, and 15 percent of black.
May have something more to say about this when I'm not about to fall asleep at the keyboard.