Plus size woman

Double Standards in Plus-Size Fashion: Are They Worth Paying Attention To?

Sharing Is Caring

Double standards are an unfortunate part of our culture, and some are more deeply embedded than others. For instance, if a hot guy hit on you, you wouldn’t mind it so much as if an unattractive person did. Or, more simply, a guy can go shirtless when it’s hot, but a woman can’t. What kinds of double standards exist in straight-size and plus-size fashion?

Straight-size and plus-size fashion are riddled with double standards. For instance:

  • Straight-size women can wear crop tops, but plus-size women can’t
  • Tight clothes are only for straight-size gals
  • Plus-size girls have to wear one-pieces, while straight-size girls can wear a bikini

The list goes on and on, trust me.

It’s bad enough that between men’s and women’s fashion, there exist enough double standards. Further complicating women’s fashion is that double standards exist by size.

In today’s article, I’ll share more of these double standards and discuss whether they’re worth paying any mind.

Double Standards in Straight-Size and Plus-Size Fashion

Straight-Size Women Can Wear Crop Tops, But Plus-Size Women Shouldn’t

Crop tops are one of the most divisive fashion trends, and rightfully so.

They show a lot more skin than the regular t-shirt, and that can make people uncomfortable. I’m not even talking about the woman (or man!) wearing the crop top, but rather, everyone who has to witness them in the crop top.

Forget that a crop top doesn’t have to show your whole stomach if you don’t want it to. You can pair a crop top with high-waisted jeans or leggings or a high-waisted skirt and only show off a sliver of stomach.

Well, it doesn’t matter to most people. Once you’re outside the realm of straight sizes and have officially entered plus-size territory, the rule is that you can’t wear crop tops anymore.

A straight-size girl can wear them all year (they make crop top hoodies and sweaters, after all) but not you. You have to give them up forever.

Bold Patterns Are Fine for Straight-Size Women, While Plus-Size Gals Must Eschew Patterns

I’ve seen some conflicting rules on this one, which just goes to show you why it is very much a double standard.

Some people are of the belief that a larger woman should wear bold patterns because it draws the eye away from trouble areas. The patterns are what catches someone’s attention first, not a woman’s size.

(By the way, this has always been my mindset, for what it’s worth!)

Others are staunchly against this and believe that only straight-size girls should don patterns.

These people think that plus-size women should fade into the background, which you’ll see more and more as I cover double standards in this section.

If a plus-size lady were to wear a bright pattern, it might put too much focus on that. Since her body is not society’s ideal, she doesn’t deserve the spotlight.

Plus-Size Women Are Stuck with Dark Colors, While Straight-Size Girls Can Wear Any Color They Wish

Remember how I said that plus-size women are supposed to fade into the background according to most fashion logic?

Well, not only can you not wear bright patterns, but bright colors are off-limits as well.

Colors of all sorts, from pinks to blues, greens to oranges, yellows to reds, and combinations of hues are fine for straight-size women. They can mix and match colors like painting with a rainbow at their leisure.

When shopping for clothes, they don’t have to think twice about the color of the garment. If they like its style and its price, then they can add it to their cart immediately.

However, bigger gals are not allowed to do the same. You’re supposed to stick to darker colors such as deep purple, navy blue, dark gray, dark brown, and black.

If you see a bright garment, no matter how much you like it, you’re supposed not to purchase it because wearing it would put too many eyes on you.

Instead, your wardrobe is supposed to be utterly one-note.

You could own dark clothes in every cut and style, but the lack of color is very constricting. All your clothes sort of bleed together without anything to separate them and make them special.

Tight Styles Are Only for Straight-Size Women, Not Plus-Size Ladies

Another double standard that is incredibly common and thus oft-repeated is about which women should wear tight clothes and which shouldn’t.

I’m sure I won’t surprise you by telling you that bigger gals are never, ever, ever supposed to wear tight clothing, according to most people.

It doesn’t matter if you’re at the gym trying to exercise. You shouldn’t wear a cute sports bra or leggings. You’re supposed to exercise, as you’re supposed to want to lose weight, but at least do it discreetly, jeez.

You know, by wearing baggy clothes!

Tight clothing for everyday wear? Forget about it! Tight clothes are only for straight-size girls since the garments hug their bodies in just the right way.

Large Coats and Other Bulky Items Make a Plus-Size Girl Look Bigger But Don’t Do the Same for a Straight-Size Woman

While the double standards suggest that plus-size women are supposed to wear baggy clothes, you don’t want to go too baggy or too bulky, of course.

For instance, you’re not supposed to wear a huge coat. It doesn’t matter if it’s a puffer coat or a structured coat that adds bulk.

You’re big enough, someone would say, so wearing anything that makes you look even bigger is a fashion faux pas.

That said, straight-size girls can wear the same coat, and it’s A-okay. They can use the additional bulk.

As a woman occupying a bigger body, you have to toe the line carefully and expertly between what is baggy and bulky enough versus too baggy and bulky. One fashion misstep will be heavily scrutinized.

Showing Skin in the Summer Is Only Permissible for Straight-Size Gals

You already know how double standards exist in the crop top department, but they don’t end there.

People feel uncomfortable with bigger women showing skin, especially if the woman is confident in herself and doesn’t mind baring some skin. That’s the biggest no-no of all.

So, where does that leave a plus-size gal in the summer? Oh boy, it’s not good.

No matter how hot and humid it gets, you have to cover up.

If you wear shorts, it will show off your cellulite. If you wear tank tops, your large arms will be on display.

So what if you sweat all summer long? If people don’t have to see the extra skin, that’s what matters most, which is why this double standard has reigned supreme.

You know, of course, that the same logic doesn’t apply to the least to straight-size women. On the first warm day in April, they can dig out their cut-off shorts and not get a second look.

Yes, that’s even though cellulite is not dependent on weight, and smaller women can have cellulite just as bigger women can.

Tank tops? Halter tops? Crop tops? Tube tops? It’s all fine for a straight-size woman.

Straight-Size Women Can Wear Whatever Style They Want at the Beach, While Plus-Sized Ladies Should Cover Up

The one place where it’s moderately more acceptable for a plus-size woman to show some skin is at the beach or the pool, but that’s only because everyone shows skin at the beach and pool.

However, she can’t show as much skin as a straight-size woman, of course. Oh no, no. That would be too much.

A straight-size gal can wear those trendy triangle bikinis, slingshot bikinis, and whatever hot style is popping up left, right, and center on Instagram.

As for plus-size gals, they cannot wear any of the above styles. It would just be indecent. Instead, for them, one-piece swimsuits, rashguards, and tankinis are about all that’s permitted.

Oh, and retro swimsuits with bottoms that go up to one’s ribcage. They cover enough skin as well.

Food Prints Are Fine for Straight-Size Women But Never Plus-Size Girls

I know this one is especially insulting, but it’s a double standard, nonetheless, so I have to talk about it.

There’s a lot of food shaming around bigger women. People assume that because a woman is plus-size that she must eat takeout 10 times per week and has never seen a healthy meal like salad or salmon in her life.

Thus, when a straight-size woman wears a t-shirt with a French fry or pizza print, it’s cute and cheeky. Everyone knows she doesn’t eat that kind of stuff all the time.

If a plus-size woman wears the same print, she’s glorifying obesity. It sucks, but it’s true.

You can have a larger body and eat pizza once a month or even not at all. It’s not always about one’s diet but genetics as well.

The average person doesn’t know that, though, and if they do know it, they don’t think about it.

Rather than educate themselves, it’s faster, easier, and even more satisfying to pass judgments on a complete stranger.

Plus-Size Women Need Shapewear, While It’s Optional for Straight-Size Women

Shapewear is designed to make women of all sizes feel more comfortable and confident.

By wearing shapewear, a woman can minimize her stomach size, give herself more of an hourglass figure, accentuate her bust, and even look like she has a shapelier derriere.

Some people deride shapewear altogether for being deceptive, which is fair. If you’re going on a first date with someone and wearing shapewear, you can advertise to them that you have a different body than what you really do.

That doesn’t mean you can’t wear it, of course. According to double standards, shapewear is more optional for some bodies than it is for others.

If you have a bigger body, then shapewear becomes a lot less mandatory. You’re supposed to pinch and pull yourself into shapewear from head to toe, so you don’t have any back fat, stomach rolls, or large thighs.

You’re supposed to look curvy because curvy is in, but never fat.

A straight-size girl doesn’t ever have to wear shapewear, and society will not shame her for it.

Mixing Pattern Is Fine for Straight-Size Gals But Not Plus-Size Ladies

Lastly, I want to go back to the patterns thing. Yes, I feel like I have to.

Mixing patterns is a fun means of self-expression, just like all fashion is supposed to be.

That said, you already know how bold patterns are not allowed for plus-size women, especially some patterns like horizontal stripes.

Well, taking one pattern and combining it with another is doubly not allowed. If you did that as a plus-size woman, you would bring way too much focus to your outfit, and we can’t have that.

As for straight-size women, they can mix and match patterns to their heart’s content. Go wild! Why not?

Should You Let Double Standards Influence Your Fashion Choices?

Phew! That was an exhaustive list of double standards for plus-size women. I’m sure after reading all those fashion dos and don’ts that you’re annoyed and exasperated, and rightfully so!

So, the question becomes, should you really let these quote-unquote rules dictate your fashion choices?

To put it bluntly, hell no!

As I always say on the blog, no matter the size of your body, you should wear what you feel good in.

If that’s patterns or tight clothes, then so be it. If you prefer a more conservative dressing style, that’s fine too!

Don’t let anyone tell you how you should and shouldn’t dress. As long as you’re decent, you can wear whatever you want.


Fashion double standards are a tale as old as time, and they don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

People love to use double standards against plus-size women so they can conform to the restrictive fashion rules that society has set for them. You know, baggy, dark clothes that don’t stand out.

Double standards exist to be broken, though, and that’s exactly what I hope you do!

Sharing Is Caring
Shopping Cart