American women have long been told the average size is a 14. Hopefully, all that will change because a new study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education reveals that the average size of American women is now 16 to 18.
The study sampled the waist sizes of more than 5,500 women and found that over the past 21 years, the average woman gained 2.6 inches around the waist, from 34.9 inches to 37.5 inches.
Researchers hope that upon learning about the new measurements, "women may be relieved in knowing the average clothing size worn is larger than [they] thought," and the public can reevaluate just what "average" really means.
The new information may also change the way retailers design and sell clothing.
"We hope that this information can get out and be used by industry and consumers alike. Just knowing where the average is can help a lot of women with their self image," Susan Dunn, one of the study's lead experts, told TODAY.
"And we hope that the apparel industry can see the numbers and know that these women aren't going away, they aren't going to disappear, and they deserve to have clothing," she said.
"That the clothing should fit well, both in style and measurements, and be available elsewhere than back corners or solely online is still a controversial topic," she added. "Why?