Size Doesn't Matter – And This Chart Proves ItKaren Belz

A while back, I stumbled across a website that featured user-submitted photos to show how weight by the number really looked on both men and women of varying heights. I thought the project was pretty neat, as it was a true-to-life visual that proved how higher numbers didn’t make a difference – people carried weight differently, and everyone looked fantastic and confident regardless of where they fell on the chart. It was a real eye-opener, and made me realize that paranoia about numbers (weight, sizing) was an honest issue to which I, and surely other women, had fallen victim.

While that particular project seemed to lose steam, another project has taken its place. UK blogger and frequent Huffington Post contributor Foz Meadows posted an article to her website with a study claiming that our perception of weight is completely distorted, and that we (humans) aren’t really sure what classifies someone as being overweight.

Meadows makes a point in stating that BMI – which is a somewhat standard measure that most use to classify weight – is pretty inaccurate, based on the fact that doesn’t take frame or body type into account. Those who are taller will definitely have higher numbers, and those with stronger builds might fall into the “obese” category, despite the fact that they don’t look or feel the part. Age is also a factor that Meadows wants us to consider, since teenagers obviously haven’t settled into their adult weights and older adults tend to lose height over time.

Now for the fun part: Clothing size. The image above and the one below prove that the size you wear doesn’t actually make a difference as to where you fall on the weight spectrum.

foz-meadows-body-chart-2

By taking two pictures of women who weighed exactly the same, she proved that women’s sizes varied significantly based solely on their body type and height. She even blames the fashion industry for pushing sizes on us and making us feel as if being small is the only indicator of being healthy. “We have learned to correlate small sizes with healthy bodies, the better to justify their primacy on the runway, in advertising and on screen as a healthy ideal,” she claims. Can you be skinny and healthy? Definitely. Can you be curvier and healthy? Of course.

What does that mean for us? Well, it means that we shouldn’t feel pressured to think that a 6 is healthy and a 10 isn’t, since it’s quite possible that if you’re the size 10, a woman who weighs the exact same as you fits into a 6 with no concern. It also means that we need to stop viewing our self worth through a clothing tag and accept the fact that “health” is too complex a concept to identify through BMI or sizes. We also need to stop viewing skinny as healthy, and overweight as unhealthy – it’s just not true.

After seeing the chart, do your views on size and weight change? Don’t the women featured look absolutely stunning?
Image Credit: Chart 1, Chart 2, Featured
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  1. Very interesting article! I agree that women should not feel pressured about what size they are but there is merit to BMI. I agree that for about 5% of the population BMI is incorrect but for the majority of the population it is relatively accurate in categorization. If a body is at an increased risk of certain chronic diseases BMI will indicate the level of risk. Further to this, waist circumference can also be measured and can help indicate whether there is an increased amount of visceral fat in the abdomen, which is bad because it is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

    BMI is not something that should make individuals feel uncomfortable it should be used as an indication of health status and risk of chronic diseases.

  2. I am right there with you. At 6′ 1 1/2″ and rather buxom, whether thin or heavy, no one has ever been able to “guess my weight” and I’ve always had to deal with comments about me being heavy, even when I was within the old “normal weight” charts. Now, with BMI, I’m always listed at some ridiculous number. It’s embarrassing and, I believe, meant to be so. Women should be supporting each other instead of knocking each other down. We need a new “standard” or to go back to the old one. At least it separated men and women, although still didn’t take body frame into account.

  3. Let’s be honest though. You don’t need higher calculus to know whether you are of healthy weight. The “average” weight in the western world is too high, that doesn’t mean that the ideal should be normalized upwards. I’ve grown up having heard Oprah say “real women have curves!” and “let’s all get excited about this new diet!” within the same week, almost every week. Women don’t want to be healthy, they want to be sexy.

  4. I totally agree, everyone has a different body. I don’t really find it acceptable that women are put on display to look a certain way but that’s entertainment and it’s what seems to sell. I find the women above look great and well proportioned. I try not to get caught up in size myself because I am neither small or big, just a white girl with a booty and I’ve also got some muscle + a ;little fat I’d like to get rid of. haha It’s funny because there’s actually a couple girls above that remind me of my own body type Height 5’8. I’m just trying to live a healthy lifestyle and do my best to feel good inside and out without having to starve myself. In the end I have to live in this body, no one else :) With that said, great article!

  5. The BMI doesn’t even differentiate between men and women. Men (on average) have more muscle mass and can weigh much more and still be at a healthy weight. I remember when the BMI came out and was extremely disappointed at the over-simplification the medical community approved.

    • Actually BMI does differentiate between men and women… and age categories… it is all based on normative data collected from the general population.

  6. Yes! I’ve been told I look as if I weighed 140 (I actually weight 170). My hipbones and ribs still stick out too! A lot of my junk is in my trunk lol. Great article I didnt know about these projects, thanks!

  7. AMEN SISTA!

  8. I love this visual. Numbers really don’t mean anything. As someone who measures 6’1″, I’ve always been gawked at when sharing my weight/size. It’s all about proportions. Thanks for showcasing so many beautiful, diverse women!

  9. Very true! However, you said that BMI “is pretty inaccurate, based on the fact that doesn’t take height or body type into account. ” It actually is based ONLY on height and weight…so…xD

    Anyway, I realized this about myself when I was trying to find a conversion between junior sizes and women’s sizes, and someone asked the same question on Yahoo!. This girl was a junior size 5, like myself, the same height, 5′ 6″, and 117lbs.

    I weigh a lot more than 117 lbs, I’m up to almost 140, so I was like…HOW IS THIS A THING? It did give me a boost of confidence though…=3

    • Sure, it takes into account height, but weight doesn’t tell you body type/frame. That’s why so many athletes end up looking obese when figuring out their BMI because of the density of muscle vs fat. They have much more of the former, than they do the latter.

      At least, i figure that’s what they meant to say.

  10. I’m prime example of this.

    Even at my heaviest wright and largest size you could see my ribs and my hip bones stuck out at the front. I carry most of my weight on my shoulders, bust, back of hips, bum and tops of my thighs. I’ve always worn very tight body con style dresses to accentuate this and show that I have a very tiny waist.
    When I tell people that I’m X size (I flutuate) they’re always pretty shocked. Most people always assume I’m 2 dress sizes smaller then I am due to my shape -’d how I carry my weight.

    Trying to find clothes however is a nightmare. I feel like I have to wear tight/stretchy clothes all the time to actually fit my curves and show my shape. Most things I try on will fit my waist and burst at the seems around my bust and hips. If I try to find something that’s none stretchy that fits my boobs and bum then I have to look in plus sized shops which don’t flatter my shape at all and swamp my waist and make me look twice the size I am. Even though I’m a smart woman and I know better then to let things like this get me down it really does take it’s toll.

  11. No problemo.

  12. Yikes – thanks James, and Ash! That was definitely a typo on my part. Thanks for catching it – I let the editors know, so they can fix it!

    Karen Belz | 3/31/2014 11:03 am
  13. Height is a part of calculating BMI. Still a terrible system though.

  14. “Foz makes a point in stating that BMI – which is a somewhat standard measure that most use to classify weight – is pretty inaccurate, based on the fact that doesn’t take height or body type into account.” You’re in need of much better research here as BMI expressly uses height as a main element in the calculation. See the equation here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index. It is accurate, however, that it doesn’t take frame size into account, which can make a substantial difference to health and appearance.

    • The part about height that BMI doesn’t take into account (even though height is part of its input data) is bone weight and muscle weight. It assumes that any extra weight is fat. Therefore, someone who is the same muscle mass and bone density as another person, but is taller, will potentially come out as a higher category than the other person, because their bone and muscle weight is counted as fat, and the same ratio is applied regardless of height