From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Survey Shows American Sizing ‘Standard’ Doesn’t Fit

Ever think clothes, cars or chairs weren’t built with you in mind? The recently-released statistics from the Size USA survey might confirm that they’re not.

After compiling collected data, results from the Size USA survey, conducted by TC2, a North Carolina technology firm, indicate that what was formerly considered “average” size for American men and women is anything but the norm for today’s body shapes.

For example, the “average” American woman was traditionally thought to be a size 8. Based on the data of over 10,000 participants in the Size USA survey, she’s closer to a size 14. Body shapes have shifted from the traditional hour-glass figure to a pear-shaped physique. American men have packed on inches around the middle. And only 10 to 20 percent of Americans fit the previous standards.

For fashion manufacturers, the change in sizing comes as little surprise. Current “standards,” were based on measurements taken prior to World War II when people were shorter, smaller and the American population was less diverse. However, manufacturers have never been held to the standards and, as Americans have become larger, clothing sizes in particular have fluctuated to change with body styles, a concept known as “vanity sizing” that allows a consumer to believe she, for example, is still the size 8 she was in her youth, even though today’s size 8 is much larger than the old one.

To acquire their data, TC2 took 3D scanner measurements of over 200 points on each participant’s body. The group turned the data into a 132-page document with a breakdown of body sizes by gender, age ranges and ethnic groups in addition to income, education, lifestyle and shopping preference.

Thirty-one sponsors helped fund the study including clothing manufacturers, retailers, the U.S. Army and Navy. The U.S. Commerce Department also kicked in a grant for the project.

From an ergonomics perspective, a fresh look at the dimensions of today’s American body means that everything from furniture, sports equipment, cars, airplanes and safety gear could take a step in a larger direction, or at least one that proportionally matches the consumers’ bodies.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Seattle Post Intelligencer