Should I feel ashamed to be a size 16?


It’s no secret that I’ve put on a stone or two since moving in with Paul. What can I say. We got super comfortable, liked having McDonalds right round the corner from us and Netflix were just on point with their TV series this summer.

But it wasn’t until I went to buy some new jeans and had to go up from a size 14 to a 16 that I had a moment of sheer panic.

That’s an understatement. I cried in the changing rooms. Multiple times.

I thought to myself, how could I let this happen? How could I become a size 16. I’ve always been a 14 –  I was never happy being a 14 but it was my size and I had gotten used to it.

Now numbers like 16 and 18 were popping into my head when shopping for clothes. I honestly felt like shit.

I did that thing where I put everything back, stormed out of the shop and sulked all the way home because nothing fit me properly in the size that I wanted.

I’m not going to pussy foot around it, but being a size 16 in my mind has always been the start of “plus sizing”. This stems from what we’re told in the media, what clothing companies tell us from their sizing in both “regular” and “plus” and what I’ve grown up knowing.

Size 16, although may be the tipping point for me, actually might be the goal for someone else. It’s all very much relative to the individual – which is why I took to Twitter to find out what you all thought.

Although only 31 people voted it was very close between both size 16 and 18 being the start or what we would call “plus size”

But should this be something we should worry about?

There are many people out there who have fuller figures than me and look bloody amazing!

Being plus size does not have to mean that you’re unhealthy, or ugly in any way but there is a massive stigma around that number 16.

For me going up a dress size is a wake-up call as it’s a big change for my body – which has come about in a negative way. It’s not a healthy change nor something I’m happy with and therefore I want to fix it.

But for so many women AND men out there, size 16, or Large or Extra Large is just normal. It’s not something to worry about nor to get worked up over.

In fact the number on our clothes shouldn’t even define us as humans but for some reason it does.

No matter what size we are, when we go up a dress size we feel terrible, but when we go down a dress size it’s something to celebrate and shout about.

But should this really be the way we treat ourselves, our bodies and the clothes we wear?

Growing up I always felt ashamed to be shopping in the women’s range when everyone else was still in teens. I felt like I was fat and I hated my body for it – of course making me comfort eat and therefore continue to go up in sizes.

Whether it’s social media, friends and family or just looking at the mannequins in the shops, we feel the need to constantly be shrinking our waists and to be squeezing ourselves into the size below.

It’s less about comfort and more about the numbers.

We tell ourselves that the size below is a bit too small but I’ll buy it anyway and lose some weight and squeeze into it. When really we should be buying the size that fits us so we can be comfortable and happy.

Although I’m a size 16 at the moment this doesn’t mean that I’m going to still be buying size 14 clothes ready for when I go back to that size.

I’m not happy having gone up a dress size but it’s where my body is at this moment in time. Sure if and when I lose the weight and go back down to a 14 I’ll have to buy more clothes but I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable right now in clothes that are too tight and make me feel embarrassed.

There is more to me than the number on my clothes, and the only person who’s going to let that number define me, is me.

It shouldn’t matter what your clothes say as long as you’re happy – and if you’re not happy then do something about it.

At the end of the day I put myself in those jeans and I’m the only one who’s going to get me out of them.

I’d love to know what your thoughts are on plus sizing, size 16 and the stigma around going up a number.

I’ve also launched an Instagram account dedicated to my fitness journey if you want to follow me over there.

Photos by Alexander Ward – Website | Instagram



  1. February 19, 2018 / 2:41 pm

    I am in a very similar situation. I was always a 16 growing up, and then made an effort to lose weight in my final year of uni. I had managed to get down a dress size and was working on more. Then I started working and.. well, I put on 2 stone in a year and I am the heaviest I’ve ever been. I am now 16/18 range and it makes me sad. I know it is just a number, but in my head that number means EVERYTHING.

    16 was a common size to me I think of size 18 as the transition to plus size. Compared to when I was a teen I feel like fashion has become a bit more accommodating to curvier/larger women (thankfully) so I’m not stuck wearing the same outfit and leggings all the time, but I completely get where you’re coming from! Everyone has their own goals and, while there is nothing wrong with being a size 16, you have a personal limit, and once you reach it you want to change. I 100% agree with you and, as long as you are happy in your own skin, that’s all that matters. I for one really want to change, but since the New Year I have been struggling to find my motivation and determination that I had when at uni.

    Sorry for the ramble there. I’m glad I got to read this today, and I wish you all the success in your journey (no matter how big or small)

    • February 19, 2018 / 3:31 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story as well. I think when you speak to other people who feel similar to you or are going through a similar situation it can really help you to come to terms with what you’re going through.

      I hope you find your motivation wherever it may be. x

  2. February 19, 2018 / 5:49 pm

    You’re lovely just the way you are Emmi! But I totally understand what you mean in this post. You’re the only person who knows what size you feel happiest at and which dress size you feel most confident in. I’ve always been a size 8-10 with big boobs and big hips so I’ve always been on the curvier side, but when I put weight on and became a size 12-14 at uni, it gave me a massive shock and I couldn’t believe how big I was. I look back at photos of me now when I was slimmer and feel SO shit about myself but then I find it hard to motivate myself because I’m results-driven and weight-loss doesn’t happen overnight, obviously. But I really want to be happy with myself and that isn’t gonna happen if I continue sitting on the floor of the changing rooms crying until someone peels me off the floor! This was so well written and I could tell it came from the heart so well done you for speaking out about how you feel! X

    • February 19, 2018 / 6:02 pm

      Thank you Amy, it means a lot to hear that. This is something that I’ve wanted to speak about for awhile now (well since I put on the weight). And you’re right, I’m the only person who knows what right and comfortable for me and I’m also the only person who’s going to change that – motivated or not. Fingers crossed we can all be happy within ourselves.

  3. February 19, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    Personally I don’t care what size my clothes are; I make my own for the most part. I have noticed that (in Australia at least) a size 16 has become bigger over the years, the actual clothes are bigger. If I buy a pair of jeans in a second hand store (which I do about once every two years) and compare it with another pair that is obviously older, the newer pair will be bigger even though they both say the same size.
    I am a size somewhere between 18 and 22, depending on the brand and the age of the clothes I am looking at, but that doesn’t define me at all. In the sub-culture I belong to worth is not assigned by the size of your clothes, rather it is related to what you can do, what skills you have and how you survive. I prefer to be valued for something like skills over the size of my ass..ets.

    • February 19, 2018 / 8:24 pm

      See in the UK sizes are getting smaller. So you will go to one shop and a size 16 will be the equivalent of a size 12 somewhere else. Also if you compare clothes from 5 years ago to clothes now they will be the same size on paper but put them next to each other and they won’t match up at all

  4. February 19, 2018 / 11:56 pm

    I think I remember watch this documentary when I was younger about how the fashion industry sizes are all a line anyway. Every body is beautiful in its own way, with its own flaws.
    Growing up, I was also one of those girls who wasn’t fitting the typical shape. I was always larger on the bottom side and always felt very insecure about my tights because they were big. Let me tell you, buying pants was always a struggle as nothing fit! Now that I’m a bit older, I’ve learned to accept my legs for what they are and stop trying to change them.
    I think so many I industries, from fashion to make up are centred around us, especially women but men too, being insecure and wanting to change ourselves to be ideal. I say stuff that, love the body you are in because it’s the only one you got!
    Love this post , as always <3
    Also, just to let you know that you look fabulous regardless of your size!

    • February 20, 2018 / 12:13 am

      I think you’re right. It’s about accepting and loving yourself no matter what size or shape you are

  5. February 20, 2018 / 1:47 pm

    I think clothes size are a load of bollocks. I have items of clothing from a size 6 all the way up to a 16. It all depends on the shop and the item of clothing. I can’t necessarily say I’m one size because a lot of my clothes say different. It’s all about feeling comfortable in what you’re wearing and not the size written on the label.

    Steph x

    • February 20, 2018 / 1:49 pm

      This is so true, I’m different in every shop and it’s actually really annoying because it means I can’t buy clothes online knowing that they will 100% fit

  6. February 21, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    This post was so beautifully written. I’ve always been extremely thin growing up. Not like stick thin, because my family comes from Dominican Republic, but small in the sense that I fit into small sizes. After graduating high school, I dated this boy, and we ended up eating loads of fast food all the time. I ended up gaining weight. As someone who has always become used to wearing size 00-0, struggling to fit into those sizes made me feel terrible about myself! I know I was putting junk into my body, and that is why I gained unhealthy weight, so I’ve been going to the gym, and seeing if I put on muscle instead. I don’t mind weighing the same as I do now, but I don’t want to have all the fat and cellulite on my body.
    You are completely right, I don’t know why the number on my pants bothers me as much as it does. It really shouldn’t. affect me as much as it does. Thank you so much for the reminder. I follow you on instagram, and I would never guess you pants size. You are so beautiful no matter what xxx

    Melina |

    • February 21, 2018 / 7:54 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s actually really nice to hear that other people have gone through similar things. And no the number on our clothes shouldn’t bother us at all we’re all beautiful!

  7. February 25, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    You don’t realise how big you are until you try on new clothes. I’ve put weight back on since I got married and I’m just passed the point of caring. It’s not really about how I look now, the primary reason I want to loose weight is to get pregnant. I’ve been in size 20+ clothes for far too long to really care about what the size says on the label.

    Mel ✨

    • February 25, 2018 / 11:59 pm

      I think we all get to the point where we don’t care and to be honest we should all be happy on our bodies enough to not care and just be happy

  8. February 27, 2018 / 2:29 pm

    I’ve always been in the mindset of “if I feel happy about my body then I don’t care what I weigh or what size I am” but I’ve felt very insecure recently and I find myself using people’s weighing scales and being horrified about what I weigh. I’m not happy with how I look at the moment and I’m doing things to change it but only because I want to and never, ever because of what other people think 😘

    • February 27, 2018 / 2:35 pm

      I think thats a great mindset to have. Be happy within yourself but only change for yourself, nobody else

  9. February 27, 2018 / 3:14 pm

    Thanks for being so honest hun. I used to be worried about not being a certain dress size but my mindset has changed so much this past year, I’ve realised that health is more important and I have managed to be more accepting of my size and my body in general. I think the social media world can us feel incredibly insecure about how we think we should look.

    • February 27, 2018 / 3:29 pm

      You’re completely right, social media really does affect our perceptions of ourselves

  10. February 27, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    I’ve always been curvier, first a 14, then up to a 16, then I went down to a 12 again, now I’m back at a 16. The same as you, I’ve put on loads of weight since moving in with my boyfriend! We’re dieting together now which is good motivation and support. I mostly ignore what other poeple think and just do what is right for me at the time. I know my partner and friends love me and don’t judge me so I don’t worry about what celebrities look like or anything like that.

    • February 27, 2018 / 7:38 pm

      Why do we all put weight on when we move in with our other halves haha

  11. February 27, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    I’m in a similar situation. I remember being a size 12 and refusing to buy 14 until I realised I just couldn’t fit in a 12 anymore. Post kids and I couldn’t bring myself to buy size 16 but here I am a size 16! It’s so true that nobody sees the label, I think for me I don’t like thinking that i’m Just going to keep getting bigger. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a size 16. Right now i’m Focusing on trying to get healthy, not a particular size!

  12. February 27, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    I’m in a similar situation, gone from 12 to 14 to 16. Always refused to buy next size up until I had to admit to myself I needed too! Very true that nobody can see the label! Right now iofocusing I’m getting healthy, not a particular size!

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