Numerical Stereotypes: Is a 189 Pound Woman Fat?

My current weight is 189 pounds.  Some people reading this probably think I’m still pretty fat.  There’s a huge misconception out there that any woman who weighs more than 120 pounds is a big fat fattie.

I’m no waif.  But I’m not fat either.  I’m healthy.  Would you consider Marylin Monroe fat?  I look thinner than she looks in a lot of her pictures.  My measurements are 41, 31, 39.  I’m 5’8″ tall.  I wear size 12 jeans.  I guess if your definition of fat is anyone bigger than Kate Moss, yeah, I’m a monster!  But really, I’m not fat.  I’m mostly muscle and boobs.  I can see my ribcage and my abdominal muscles if I stretch.

I used to have to shop at the plus size store when I wore a size 22/24 jeans at my heaviest.  I could never understand why there wasn’t more available in terms of clothing for larger ladies.  I mean, there are enough of us them around, right?  Everywhere I go lately everyone seems huge.  Fat women have money.  I was ready to spend mine!  Fat women have careers.  I needed to dress nicely for mine!  But where were the clothes?  Just because you’re big, doesn’t mean you have to curl up and die.  Even when I decided to lose the weight, I still had to shop at the Plus Size store until I lost a significant amount.  So could the punishment end?  Isn’t being obese punishment enough in itself?

So I was happy to see this headline in the New York Times today.

Plus-Size Revelation: Big Women Have Cash, Too

Size 14 and UP

I was happily reading this article and it was saying all these things I’ve thought myself many times.  Big women have cash too.  It makes business sense for more stores to carry plus size since so many women are plus size.  Plus size women are desperate to buy more attractive clothes and are a practically untapped market.

Then I got to this paragraph and my enjoyment swiftly ended:

That is not always so easy for retailers venturing into the world of larger shoppers. Some bigger women do not like to try on clothes in the same fitting rooms as smaller women. Plus-size stocks take up valuable storage space, and not everyone is big in the same way, meaning stores cannot count on, say, a size 16 dress fitting most 180-pound women — one might have a larger torso, another big thighs and another wider hips.

Wait, wait, WHAT?  Bigger women don’t want to use the same dressing rooms as smaller ones?? WHAT? I have never heard such an absurd thing.  I’ve never known anyone who felt that way.  And don’t the great majority of dressing rooms have stalls these days?  So who cares?

But the second part is what really bothers me.  I weigh MORE than 180 pounds and I am not Plus Size!!!  I wear a size 12 as I mentioned previously.  I WAS Plus Size for a long time and I resent the assumption that a 180 pound woman is a size 16.  I haven’t been a size 16 since I was 230 pounds.

I really can’t stand the numerical misconceptions people have.  When I tell them my weight and they say “NO, You can’t possibly weigh that much!” how am I supposed to take that?  I know they think they are complimenting me, but I DO weigh that much and it was comments like that that made me hate my body in the first place.

When I was 16, I was in love with Axl Rose.  I realize I am dating myself here.  And I loved Metal Edge Magazine.  I remember a devastating day when I was reading an interview with him and the question was, what kind of woman do you like?  His answer was something along the lines of “I will date all kinds of girls!  I mean, unless she’s a fat cow like over 150 pounds.”  I weighed 190-something.  I was crushed.  Another reminder that I was a fat cow unworthy of anyone’s love.

If I did weigh 150 pounds, at my height and my frame, I would be underweight.  I would have to lose a lot of healthy muscle and get a breast reduction to get there.

Numerical prejudice.

I have to admit, I stopped reading the NYTimes article after that.  Not worth my time.

You can’t tell how much a person weighs by looking at her.  There are so many variables.  Height, frame, muscle, torso length.  I resent the notion that this is only an issue for plus sized women.  Are you kidding me?  I have a harder time finding clothes to fit my healthy hourglass figure than I did when I was fat!  Nobody makes shirts for a woman with a 31 inch waist and 34-DDDs.  So that’s just a bullshit argument.  Sell the big women some damned attractive clothes, and do it without insulting them or treating them as if they aren’t human and aren’t all individuals just like everyone else.

(I wasn’t going to blog here today, but that just got my blood boiling.)

26 thoughts on “Numerical Stereotypes: Is a 189 Pound Woman Fat?

  1. IJust read the same article! I am 5’7 and 170 lbs.I wear a size 10. Agree the article started great then quickly turned HORRIBLE!

    1. i sooo agree i am 5’5 240 lbs and a size 20 seeing that when you were around my weight you were a size 16 obv. thats a huge diffrence. I refuse to wear jeans for my size they never fit right always too tight around the thighs and belly and too loose in the croch so sadly i just stick to sweat pants i am a college student!!!! who wants a girl who wear sweat pants all the time and a fat one at that? i’m losing the weight 15lbs in 3 weeks im working my butt off to feel excepted and to finnaly love myself!

  2. Your measurements for bust and hips are the same as mine! (waist 29) and I totally agree with your anger for this article and its implications. I am in no way ashamed as a size UK 12-14 (US 8-10 I think?) woman to change in a communal changing room with size skinnies, and I don’t think any woman should be. I know I have a bra and pants on that actually fits me and apart from that the only thing I could be conscious of is my body, but I totally refuse to be! I am an hourglass shape like yourself and given that this is the supposed ‘body ideal’ for woman, I can’t understand why I should be expected to shop in evans all the time, lovely as the shop is (and it can be, let’s be nice, it can be you just need to look,) I also hanker after the clothes in warehouse, karen millen, zara and, dare I say it, that haven of skinny, topshop, and I have a right to shop there without the people running the stores wondering whether I’m too big to shop there, and what I weigh!! (for the record, 156lb at 5’7.5″ with a DD cup – nightmare for topshop!) In the current climate of the larger average woman compared to 15 or even just 5 years ago, the fashion industry really does need to sort themselves out and realise that the late 20s-late 40s yrs old professional women who make up the bulk of ladies able to purchase expensive clothing will also be larger in size and should not be made to feel cowed if they want to make any money out of their custom!! Grr….

  3. I currently weight just over 150 and I’m a size 10 – borderline size 12 – so I could see that if I gained 30 more lbs that I would easily be a size 16.

    While I agree that it is a bold assumption to make, it really is amazing the amount of variation that exists among sizes and weight.

  4. I loved your post. I’m 5’5 and at 180 pounds I was nowhere close to a size 16. I am over 200 pounds now and I’m still not a 16.

  5. Many variables yes. I too wear a size 12. Here are my stats.
    152 lbs
    When I was 170 my hip measurement was 46″ So, yeah, what you weight is only one part of the equation. Two people, same size, different weights.

  6. Hi there, I just found your blog via I have really enjoyed reading your story and find it inspiring as I’m 1 week into my weight loss journey (trying not to say the D word). Keep up the good work!

  7. I also found you via fatsecret. I’m an inch taller than you, about 10lbs heavier, and a 14 is snug on me, and I wish I could see my abs. I think it really depends on your body type and where your body accumulates fat. No one believes that I am almost 200lbs . For my bone structure, I shouldn’t be heavier than 150 and consider myself plus size. I think anything over a 12 in the U.S. is considered plus. Anyways, I love shopping at Burlington Coat Factory, they seem to size up a bit (I can fit into their 12!) and, at least out here on the west coast, there are chain boutiques that cater to larger women.

    So, to answer your question, a 5’2″-5’5″ woman weighing in at 189lbs is fat. Someone closer to 6′ and muscular, no. I’m not really offended by the article because I know my height is not “average” and when journalists throw out numbers like that, they are talking about an average (white) woman. They just don’t think about all the variations out there.

  8. I’ve been reading your posts on FatSecret, and you’re a big inspriation. 😀

    Anyway, I saw something today which made me think of this blog post, I just wanted to share.

    I was looking around on for a model sketch, since I’m trying to design a wedding dress for myself… which will be worn hopefully when I reach my goals. I come across one and it seems promising (covered in text saying “DOWNLOAD ME!” so I couldn’t really see it). Anyway description was 5’4″, 130lbs. I think, ah okay this probably close to what I’d look like since that’s my height. The drawing was more like myself now at 175, maybe even my starting point at 190. I just ended up drawing something myself. :/

    Is this seriously what someone assumes a 130lb person to be like? I had a discussion earlier with other people talking about my goals and some costumes I’d like to do. (I’ve been doing costuming from games, cartoons and stuff for about 10 years) I’ve always wanted to do something a little revealing, and these people were revolted that I’d even attempt a bare midriff at 145 because I’d be straight up and down with no shape and pretty much a beached whale. Uh no. That was me 25lbs ago, thanks.

    I think we need to realistically educate some of the blind masses on weight with photos and numbers or something.

  9. The part that got me was that “plus sized stock takes up valuable storage space”… implying that the plus sized stock isn’t valuable… why? Because plus sized women are not as valuable? I’m seeing red right now…

  10. Hi, I wandered over here from fatsecret, and I am equally annoyed by the numerical prejudice! However, I have the opposite issue as you, I think — I look like I weigh MORE than I actually do. I’m 5’8″ and 152 lbs. but still wear a size 12. Just goes to show that, indeed, we’re all very different…so trying to classify all women in the same way based on weight and size is pointless.

  11. I’m about 5’3” and 150 lbs.
    Here in Germany I was always said to be “fat” but… what does this mean, “FAT”?
    I do not suffer from obesity or other physical disorders because of my weight. Sure, I have a lot of friends who are thinner than me but does this make me be a bad person?
    I think NOT.

  12. Hey, I was told to come here from FatSecret. I’m the girl with the eating issues. I wish I could be your frame and shape. I have what apparently is called an hourglass figure….and boobs which make clothes hard to find 😡 I’m 5′ 7″ and 154 lbs. However, I still have chunks of flab on my belly, thighs, and arms. Even after hitting the gym, taking cycling classes and toning classes, cutting calories(maybe a bit drastically) I’ve lost weight, but not a lot of fat it seems. And I don’t think it was water weight, I lost a chunk(about 14-16 lbs) last summer after going vegan and taking long walks before I hit a stop in weight loss. I’m just so terrified that I’ll never look normal, fit, attractive, and healthy. If I could look like 130 at 145, then that would be alright with me. It’s a pity that being over 115 is increasingly being considered overweight or unattractive…how are we supposed to compete with that?

    1. Hi Jackie,
      I know what you mean. Anyone who thinks 115 is overweight is off their rocker! I’ve seen your pictures and I think you look beautiful now- not overweight at all. It is dangerous to compare ourselves to other people, especially to celebrities and models, because they are all airbrushed and reproportioned in Photoshop. Personally, I think the best way to get fit and toned is to exercise, especially strength training, and to eat enough to support it. The 122 pounds I lost all without ever eating under 1200 calories a day (most days I ate a lot more than that, too). Do I look perfect now? No. But isn’t there more to life than looking perfect? Nobody looks perfect- not even those models or else why would they airbrush them.
      I defiantly say “Screw That.” I am not going to buy into this crap about women having to be absurdly thin. Hell no. I’m a strong, beautiful woman just the way I am. You are too. There are many ways to be beautiful.
      You are NOT fat. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve your appearance, but it can’t be the only important thing and you know, life is about a whole lot more than being thin and pretty. Take care of yourself and feel free to write to me any time if you have any questions I can try to answer.

  13. I think because of the different variations of body shape, there’s no reason to get upset that stores are stupid about sizing. Most girls who are size 6 and under have a generally similar shape. They’re usually too skinny to have boobs or a butt or sexy thighs. When you get even in a size 8 though, what will fit one woman, won’t fit another of exactly the same weight/height. Bigger ladies just have more places to put the weight. Before I got pregnant, I could fit into a 4 or a 6. Usually. Sometimes my thighs were too fat or my boobs were too big. Now I’m 184 lbs and I still only have to wear a size 8 or a 10. That’s 45 lbs later and I still don’t wear the size people would associate with 180+ lbs. I think what women need to try and stop doing is actually focusing on their weight as a number. Who cares what the scale says? The scale doesn’t tell you how healthy you are. Maintaining that 4/6 was exhausting. The less attention we pay to our technical weight as a whole, the less reason people will have to focus on it. Skinny bitches are unhappy usually, all that work and no eating stinks. Rock your size, quit getting angry at stores that mass produce, it’s not within their power to make clothes that fit each and every woman. This isn’t the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. As for the focus on women having to be thin, I think you’re not paying enough attention to what’s really going on. Some of the women considering breath takingly beautiful are bigger women. Girls idolize Kim Kardashian and women like her. The skinny thing is on it’s way out. Also, Marilyn Monroe was actually what is currently a size 4/6. She had a 24 inch waist. Just goes to show how dress sizes change over the years and why we need to stop focusing on the numbers and start focusing on whether or not we are HEALTHY.

  14. Wow, so much truth in what you wrote. I’m 5’8″, 220 and wear a size 12. I HATE telling a friend what I weigh because of their incredulous reaction. Hate it. Like you said, I know they mean it as a compliment… and I’m sure they’re actually surprised… but geez. I have an extremely muscular build, I am a very active CrossFitter, boxer and kickboxer and eat Paleo. I lift heavy and often and could kick the average, every day American male’s ass, but I also have curves (36F). Sure, I have fat to lose, most people do, but I am not fat. I’m 15 lbs less than my heaviest but 5 pants sizes down from my heaviest! I’m tired of the stigma, I’m tired of catching myself getting wrapped up in the number and suddenly letting a number define who I am instead of how hard I train.

    1. Wow. I’m 5’7″ and weigh 220 and I wear a size 2X. I look at clothes that are size 1X or XL and wish I could wear them. I’m on a diet right now and have a beautiful 1X blouse hanging on my door for inspiration. I could lose 50lbs and my size 2X clothes will still fit me. I know because I’ve been there. Oh well.

  15. I am a 5’4″ woman who is 189 lbs, earlier this year I was 202 lbs. According to someone above, I am fat. According to my doctor, I am in the obese category. My BMI is about 33. According to my friends and most people who see me, there is no way I could be above 150 lbs. Throughout all this time, I have still been able to fit my prom dress from high school without splitting it- a size 12, with only issues in the cleavage department and some extra rolls here and there. To provide perspective, this summer I attended my ten year college reunion. I have never been called fat, just obese because of my BMI. I wish people would stop shaming others for what they see on the scale, and instead encourage others to choose health.

  16. Being overweight and obese is not really the enormous health issue the media and fat-shamers would like us to believe. Yes, there are some illnesses heavy people are more likely to suffer from, but there are others more weight actually prevents. Our economy thrives on people simultaneously spending their money on food/weight-gaining measures and weight-losing measures. Just think about the commercials during one half hour of tv. I think it’s great that heavy actresses are kicking in the door and letting all our perfectly healthy and beautiful body types coexist. Hurray for Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, Brooke Elliot, and Aidy Bryant who are beautiful and funny (and their humor is not fat-joke based). We still have a long way to go, but at long last we are getting started. I am a size 20 and proud of it, I want and demand more and better clothing choices. Thank you to the author for the positive message you are sending.

  17. I feel you I am 5’4 I weigh 187 pounds and Imy waist size is 32 inches but when I tell purple how much I weigh they look at me and say your lying and say i look like I am about 150 pounds.I can wear a size 10 with no problems. We are not fast we are healthy.

  18. Ha! I weigh 218 and wear a size 12. I made it to a size 10 at 180 but couldn’t maintain it. I run, lift weights, cycle, swim and kick box. I am so sick of size assumptions.

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