Should Clothes For Larger Children Be Called 'Plus-Size'?

People come in different sizes. This is particularly true for children, whose bodies are constantly growing and changing. Standard sizes meant for all kids don’t fit all kids, especially with an increasing percentage of overweight children. Boys’ clothing cut larger with the designation of “Husky” have been around for a while, and some kids and parents find them embarrassing. But what about girls? Some retailers of children’s clothing have introduced larger cuts of clothing for girls as young as 3, but have designated these clothes “plus size,” just like clothes for larger adult women.

At Sears, the plus-sized line has been flying off shelves. The name, though, has made worrywarts raise the inevitable question: will this hurt the self-esteem of children? Which is a silly question, because not being able to dress like their peers or find age-appropriate clothing would be more harmful.

Is it problematic to label larger girls’ clothing ‘plus-size’? [Today] (Thanks, Chizu!)
Applause for Sears and their clothes [Fierce, Freethinking Fatties]


Edit Your Comment

  1. samonela says:

    XS, Small, Med, Large, XL, and Bertha

    What’s the problem?

  2. Bsamm09 says:

    How about “Nosetackle”?

  3. dolemite says:

    Just like just about every other thing in the world, kids won’t care about it unless the parents make a big deal about it. “I like this mommy!” “Well, it is a plus size, and you are getting fat…way fatter than your friends. I guess we’ll buy it for your big tummy.”

  4. Sarek says:

    Well, didn’t the girls’ equivalent of “Husky” used to be “Chubby”? So which is more self-esteem-destroying?

    • MaytagRepairman is stealing socks while fixing your dryer. says:

      I haven’t looked at children’s clothes since I was a child. I remember “Husky” and “Chubby” and I hated those terms.

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        I had to wear Husky pants for a few chubby years. HATED the word. It doesn’t mitigate that they are calling you a fat little boy..

  5. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    Why not tall, venti, grande and big gulp?

    • Laura Northrup says:

      Actually, it would be pretty funny to go to the petite section and find everything labeled “Tall.”

  6. Ilovegnomes says:

    It mirrors the style of the regular sized clothing, so as long as the size on the label isn’t showing on the outside, it shouldn’t matter. I think it is important to take the emphasis off a size and put it back on finding clothes that fit and look good to be confident.

  7. MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

    Why on earth does it need a special classification? Just put the size 24s out next to the size 2s, they’re not going to implode.

    • Coffee says:

      I’m disappointed in your, Max…clearly, there’s not enough fat shaming in the system you propose. I think anything over a medium should get whale designations (beluga, humpback, and, if your daughter is particularly hammy, sperm)..that way, they’ll grow up hating their bodies and work extra hard to be in good shape when they’re older.

    • MPD01605 says:

      Well but how would you qualify a (for lack of a better term) “wider” size? A size 3 might be made for someone both taller and wider, so a size 2-plus might work for someone who’s too wide for a 2 but too short for a 3?

      I’m thinking it’s like shoes, at least men’s sizes. You have 10, 11, 12, which are longer and minimally wider, which are different from wider sizes 10W, 11W, 12W.

      I should mention I have absolutely no understanding of female clothes sizes.

      • Snowblind says:


        My son is 9, and is 5’1″, skinny as a rail. At 107lbs, he is on the low side for his height… using the women’s chart!

        So nothing fits. Nothing. Fits his waist, hits him mid shin. Fits the legs… he has inches at the waistline. Shorts are the only thing that looks half normal on him.

        Thankfully, he is now in men’s small shirts, and there are more choices.

        Jeans/pants are another matter.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        Actually, the W thing does exist in women’s sizes. I think it starts around size 14 and goes up from there. The Ws are cut larger than the standard sizes for that number.

        • Coleoptera Girl says:

          Where I work, one of the plus-size clothing lines does start at size 14, so yes, you are correct. For the smaller sizes, I’d honestly just look for bottoms/jeans with short, regular, and tall designations. So, if you need a size 12 waist but you have size 10 legs, you can go for a pair of size 12 short jeans.

    • Mambru says:

      agree, but then again someone will be hurt by it.

      I wonder if your kind is bigger isn’t easier to shop on the adult section? I see women doing the opposite going to the Junior section because the adult stufff is way to big for them

  8. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    From the perspective of a guy who’s first diapers would have come labelled “husky” size.

    It would be best if the sizing were just xxs, xs,s, m, l, xl, xxl, etc. Let’s not put a name to the label like “Husky”. That doesn’t add anything meaningful.

    • GreatWhiteNorth says:

      By the way that would be the diapers when I was a new born. I have not developed the need for them currently or I hope anywhere in the foreseeable future.

    • Greg Ohio says:

      The problem is that kids vary in height as well as width. A kid only tall enough for an M will be too short for the XL that would fit their girth.

  9. Jacquilynne says:

    The whole point of the term ‘plus-size’ was to get away from other, less flattering terms. Now people associate plus with fat, so it’s become potentially damaging.

    We can change it to something new, say, Zzzlstrang, but I guarantee, if we do, 10 years from now, Zzzlstrang will mean fat, and we’ll be worried about whether labeling people’s clothes that way will damage their self-esteem.

    • Jawaka says:

      Its telling that the big problem in this story seems to be what we’re calling the fat kid clothes and not the fact that the kids are fat in the first place.

    • CalicoGal says:

      How about the terms “Misses” and “Womens” with regard to adult female clothing?
      Translations: Misses=not fat, Womens=sorta fat but not plus-size.
      Same size numbers, with Womens having a “W” on the end.
      So “12” is a Misses size, and 12W is Womens. The 12W is considerably “fuller-cut” than the plain old 12.
      So now the word “Womens” pretty much equals SORTA FAT. Crazy!

    • aloria says:

      There’s actually a name for this– the “euphemism treadmill.”

      We can come up with neutral-sounding nicknames for a thing all day long, but until society stops thinking of that thing as negative, the nicknames will eventually get a negative slant to them.

  10. Dagny Taggart says:

    I am surprised Sears hasn’t signed up Honey Boo Boo to endorse this line.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    This is a really tough situation, because all children grow at different stages and levels. Even through high school.

    I knew a girl in high school 3 years my junior. She was short and kind of pudgy. At first glance you’d think she was a somewhat overweight for her age.

    After I graduated I came back to see friends and that girl had shot up like a beanstalk. She was at least 18 inches taller, but probably did not gain a pound in the process.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      This is a problem too, its mostly the girls in my family for some reason. The boys are beanpoles who can barely keep a pair of super slim jeans on, and they eat tons of junk food and sit around playing video games all day. Not an ounce of exercise occuring here

      The girls however are all pudgy and have bellies until they hit middle school, when they realize they are fat. Then they start starving themselves, lose the weight and somehow manage to keep it off..

      Don’t get my started on my high school class, almost every girl over 300lbs by the time they are 30 except for maybe 2-3 (I had a small class, but still!), I am the skinny one, and I am NOT even close to being skinny! But I might be the only one whom has managed to keep within 20lbs of what I was when I graduated high school.

  12. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    Let’s just cut the crap and call it the “low self-esteem section” because anything you label it will eventually become associated with “fat” and make children feel bad.

  13. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t know what to suggest here. I have trouble finding things that fit because I’m tall, with long arms and legs and broad shoulders. I have to buy bigger sizes to go across my shoulders, and then I end up swimming in my clothes. Also, the larger sizes are apparently for short people as well, so then I am wearing high-water pants.

    Also, it’s difficult when department stores organize not by size, but by designer, and I have NO idea who carries what or if it will fit me. I don’t shop there anymore, even if I could afford it.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I feel your pain. I hate buying long sleeved shirts, because I always end up rolling up the sleeves a turn or two because the sleeves are so short I can’t button them. I’ve yet to find “tall or long” shirts like they make for men.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      I have a simlar issue, in that yes, I am overweight, but even without that, I would be an average-height male with wide shoulders and a thick torso. So I often have issues with things that will fit my girth, but simply do not fit across the shoulders. It’s especially bad with armored motorcycle jackets, where the sizing runs really small (we’re talking a 6XL might be the same as a 3XL anywhere else).

  14. madrigal says:

    When I was a little girl, the bigger girls clothing was called girls plus. I think husky was used for boys.

  15. wilde_hare says:

    Plus isn’t that damning of a word. I don’t think there’s an issue. This coming from a fat kid who became a fat adolescent who became a fat adult.

    Seriously, you should have seen the horrible clothes choices for fat kids in the 1970’s and 80’s. Kids today are lucky!!

  16. prismatist says:

    N, thy shld b clled bd prnt sz.

  17. highfructosepornsyrup says:

    Naming stuff this way is dumb anyway.

    Give it a number. Not a meaningless “dress-size” type number, but something that makes sense like an actual measurement.

  18. walke2jd says:

    We should just shift all sizes down, so that huge people dont have to feel bad.

    Sizing will be Nano, Micro, Small, Medium….

    That way everyone feels good about themselves!

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I wish women’s clothes would come in a standard size. I have shirts that are size XL, and fit nicely, and some in 2X that are tight. There is no standard, and don’t even get me started on pants and pant lengths.

      I usually buy men’s socks because the tiny things they pass off as women’s socks these days slide down at the heels right into my shoes.

      Any more, I don’t look so much at the size in the neck label, but how it looks like it might fit when I hold the item up to myself. Then I pick one of that size, plus one from each size to the smaller and larger of that size, and head for the dressing room. It saves a lot of time.

      • Chuft-Captain says:

        Men’s clothing isn’t standard either. It CLAIMS to be, but terms like S, M, L, XL mean almost nothing in reality. The “measured” sizing is somewhat better, but it’s still a crapshoot whether the pants or shorts that fit you will be the same between brands and styles. I’ve had varances of up to 6″ in supposed waist size between pants that fit properly.

      • PercussionQueen7 says:

        Target is the worst at this for me. I am an XL going to L at Old Navy and the XXLs don’t fit me at target. Can we all just agree that an XL is x amount in the bust, x amount in the waist, x amount in the hips, or whatever? If I magically find something that fits, I buy it in every color they have (if I have the funds), because who knows when I’ll find something that fits again!?

        • sprybuzzard says:

          I always found Old Navy to be ridiculously oversized. I had a pair of capri shorts that were size 2 when all my other pants/shorts were 6-8. I mean, awesome that Old Navy thinks I’m a “size 2” but I’m really not…

    • pegasi says:

      they did that anyway… the sizing of clothing has gotten smaller… what used to be mediums is now smalls, etc… over the years, clothing has been “resized” by the designers, so if you take a size 12 from the 60s, it’s not the same as a size 12 from the 90s…

      As for the child’s clothing issue… just give it all number letter combos they already size kids clothing 3-16 anyway, so just add an “x” for the plus size for either gender – I think that’s kind of a “duh”… it’s non-discriminatory, and easy to figure out. If its a kid’s size 10, its for a normal size kid, if it’s a 10x, its for a child who has some extra weight… simple.

      • Jared The Geek says:

        You are crazy, sizing has gone the opposite way with supporting studies. What was an XL is now a large. Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12 is always trotted out but the other side is that its today’s size 6.

        Its an arbitrary number and some designers are worse than others to all play on women’s psyche during the shopping experience. Men’s clothing are starting to do the same. A 30 waist pant in most cases is a 34 inch waist so we don’t feel fat.

  19. Dagny Taggart says:

    If smn s ffndd bcaus thr kd hs t wr pls-szd clths, tll hr t hv hr kd l ff th Chts nd spnd mr tm n th jngl gm.

  20. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Frankly it probably would do some good if the kids (and their parents) realized, somehow started to become cognizant of the fact that their kids are fat. To be blunt.

    My guess is we need to stop sugar-coating the issue (ha!) – using euphemisms for “fat” like “husky” or whatever.

    Maybe sizes should range from “Eat More” to “A Little Skinny” to “Just Right” to “A Little Fat” to “OMFG Stop Eating!”

  21. Overheal says:

    “Boys’ clothing cut larger with the designation of “Husky” have been around for a while, and some kids and parents find them embarrassing”

    Well, if your kid is overweight, what is better for them? Nurture them into a better lifestyle or get upset at how the clothes store brands your pant size?

  22. njack says:

    The plus size clothes are easier to remove when crapping at a dinner table in a restaurant.

  23. nbs2 says:

    I’m fine with plus size, as long as they introduce a minus size. The girl doesn’t get to wear pants very often – either the waist is too big or the pants turn into highwaters.

    And no, a belt isn’t an option – they don’t make them small enough. Until this year, it was boas and canvas tied into knots. This year, we live in Houston, so it shouldn’t be so bad.

  24. Kuri says:

    Doesn’t matter what it’s called, once other kids zero in on what it means, you’re back at square one.

  25. Mambru says:

    If I read husky I think I wander into the tooling section.

  26. STXJK says:

    “Princess Sized.”

  27. hoi-polloi says:

    With some men’s pants, you have categories like skinny, standard, and relaxed. People may take exception to the ‘skinny’ label, but relaxed is more neutral than plus or husky. As others have pointed out, expanding sizes from xs-xl or whatever isn’t the issue. This is really about the ratio of the waist to the length. I have a lean kid, and if it wasn’t for adjustable waistbands none of the pants that are long enough for him would stay up.

    • pegasi says:

      I’m an adult and I STILL have a horrible time with clothing…. what fits me in the seat of the pants and stomach in ladies is too small in the waist…. and it says it’s my size…. but if I get a bigger size, it looks horrible! Not to mention, the style choices stink!

      SO… I get men’s pants and shorts. They fit better in all the right spots, and I can still sit down and breathe at the same time – which is a must.

  28. Jawaka says:

    Fat kids are fat kids. Don’t coddle them. Perhaps if they get embarrassed that they have to purchase special fat kid clothes they’ll take their health a little more seriously while they’re still young and can make changes a lot easier than when they’re adults and their metabolism slows to a crawl.

    • pegasi says:

      Its up to parents to teach kids to NOT pile food on their plates – to only take a couple bite’s worth to try something and see if they like things.

      It is also up to parents to teach kids
      – don’t eat from the bag, get a bowl and take a portion.
      – don’t eat while upset, bored, or just because it tastes good. these are bad habits
      – don’t eat just because it’s on your plate, if you’re full walk away, learn and take less next time

      these things have helped me to go from being a lot overweight to just somewhat… and I haven’t given up eating the good things in life like ice cream, chips and candy… I just follow the top item in the list.

    • Kate Blue says:

      Yeah, because that has worked so well up til now.

      Sorry to tell you, giving kids a case of bad self esteem doesn’t make them lose weight, it causes them to gain more.

  29. hobochangbar says:

    Waddle on down to the “Heft Hideaway” for all you Big Girl clothing needs.

  30. PragmaticGuy says:

    Well maybe, just maybe, if parents were a little more embarrassed they’d worry more about their kids’ health and help them to slim down. No, not everyone has to be as skinny as Olive Oyl but there’s nothing wrong with trying to maintain a healthy weight.

  31. Hoss says:

    The guy in the clown suit… Hey, there was a GUY IN A CLOWN SUIT!

  32. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    New children’s size names:

    · Special Snowflake
    · Special Snowball
    · Special Snowman
    · Special Snowdrift

    • longfeltwant says:

      Sizes shouldn’t be called anything. They should be labeled according to the physical measurements of the clothes, obviously. All clothes should be sold the way of hats and men’s pants: by the inch (or cm even better).

      • MarcelineTheVampireQueen says:

        “Husky” pants have a wider waist for the same pants length. So it does need a special designation. Kids clothing are by age (size 6,7,8, etc…) so if your kid is chubby you buy an “8 husky”. Usually only an issue with clothes that don’t have an elastic waist.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          “Husky” pants just have a different set of numbers on them. There’s nothing “special” about them, they’re just 50/32 instead of 42/32.

          • MarcelineTheVampireQueen says:

            Not true. Husky pants are tailored entirely differently – at least at the school uniform store.

      • SlightlyGrumpy says:

        “All clothes should be sold the way of hats and men’s pants: by the inch (or cm even better).”

        Vanity sizing (men’s pants – I think hats are still safe). Apparently we don’t like to buy pants tagged as having anything larger than a 36″ waist, so brands like Dockers and Old Navy sell 39″ – 41″ waist pants as 36″.

        • naosuke says:

          Which is frustrating as hell. The whole point of men’s sizing is so that you can tell at a glance if those pants are going to fit you without having to try them on. I don’t care what number is written on my pants so long as I can go back to not having to grab a stack of pants and try them on. I don’t care if it’s inches, centimeters, or smoots. I just want the numbers to be the same across all brands so I know what pants fit without having to try them on.

      • sallysparrow says:

        AMEN. i am a tall female and depending on the cut or brand of the garment, i can wear a range of ten numerical sizes, which is absurd. i wish people would get over the false stigma of wearing an arbitrary number and wear clothes that actually FIT them. trust me, you’ll look thinner in a well-tailored x+1* than you will crammed into an x for x’s sake.

        *or x+2 in women’s sizes: another strange industry standard

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      -Xtra Large
      -Fat Fat Fatty Fat

    • alana0j says:

      Lol. Parents are way to over protective these days. Here’s how we solve this:

      If your kid is fat, help them lose weight. The kids can’t help it but parents can. In a hurry? Tempted to stop at McDonald’s? How about Subway instead. Your kid’s bored? How about instead of letting them park it in front of the TV you take them outside and run around with them. If you’re unwilling to work with them not only for appearance sake, but for their health as well, don’t get all butt hurt when their clothing properly expresses their size.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      :) I want these sizes. Comment of the delayed day!

  33. thomwithanh says:

    We could always take after King of the Hill and call them “H. Dumpty’s”

  34. SilverBlade2k says:

    I don’t see why not.

    We see ‘plus’ sizes for adults. Kids shouldn’t be any different.

    If a kid doesn’t want to be called ‘plus’ size, they have to lose weight.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      That’s what I was gonna say too. I see no problem with plus sizes, they shouldn’t sugarcoat just to spare fat kids’ feelings.

  35. SoCalGNX says:

    There has got to be a better way to describe things. Someone I know has never gotten over the fact his brother told him “husky” meant “fat” and that was many decades ago.

  36. MarcelineTheVampireQueen says:

    Ha! I have had to buy “husky” clothes for my son and that designation always just makes me giggle. Luckily he’s grown out of the “husky” phase.

  37. momoftwokids says:

    Can I get some pants for my kids (ages 6 and 14) for whom regular sized clothes slide off their hips if they are the right length or 3″ too short if they fit around the waist?

    Oh wait, since they are not “plus” sized they don’t count. Its not like they are model thin, they are just sorta…..average.

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      A lot of stores sell “slim” sizes or just buy pants with adjustable waists and cinch them up. That’s what we do.

    • Aiesline says:

      Try Levi’s 505’s in a slim fit. Thats what my little toothpicks have to wear :)

  38. RogerX says:

    Here’s an inconvient fact:

    US traffic accident death rates are way down since the federal limit was removed.

  39. RevGirl says:

    What is this, junior high? What’s with all the snarky comments? Am I the only one who read the “Comments Code”?

  40. flychinook says:

    They can either call it plus size, or they can give it some euphemism that will instantly get the negative stigma of “plus size”. So it doesn’t really matter.

    The self esteem issues don’t come from what the clothes are called, it comes from the need to wear those clothes in the first place.

  41. Outrun1986 says:

    The problem here is that plus size in kids clothes always isn’t what this article is talking about. Yes, they have larger sizes for the heavier kids. However, some of those clothes are also meant as a transitional size as a child transitions from child’s clothing to adult clothing. Yes I know the Junior’s department is for that, but if you have a large 9-10 year old, they aren’t quite ready to be flaunting those skimpy styles you find all over the Junior’s department.

    They do this with shoes too, now they have girls shoes up to size 6 or 7, when I was a kid they only went up to size 4, so if you were a 4.5 you were pretty screwed and had to jump to adult sizes, even if your feet were still shaped like a kids foot and if you wanted the children’s styles that weren’t available to the large footed. A size 4.5 or 5 in children’s shoes used to be incredibly hard to find, almost near impossible. I had to jump to adult shoes when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade because of this.

    I have shopped the plus departments for kids. almost every store has one, and this is nothing new, as its been going on for like 10 years. I used to shop for my cousin’s clothing in the kids plus department. But it is true, Sears was probably the first to put out kids plus clothing, and it has been wildly successful, as I see people that come into Sears for just that department.

    The worst was when Sears used to call their children’s underwear for larger kids “chubs” if I do recall correctly… oh the horrors.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Children shouldn’t be worried about “styles” and other such bullshit.

      There’s nothing more infuriating than these crap ads on TV which imply that school is a fashion show.

      The fuck ever happened to *LEARNING* in school, or learning life lessons like “Your clothes have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with who you are” at home?

  42. LEDZEPPELIN24 says:

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but my daughter is a “plus size” at 12, because she is still in the girls section. For her height, she is actually a few pounds under the normal weight. She is 5’1 1/4″ and 101 pounds. Juniors clothes are too skimpy and make her look like a telephone pole draped with clothes. So its a plus for her, and she is perfectly healthy. Plus doesn’t always mean fat, it can just mean “in the middle”.

  43. missminimonster says:

    I’m almost 30 and I remember getting “Pretty Plus” clothes at Sears. This has been going on for years. Not being able to find attractive clothes was far more harmful than the label like the article implies.

    And before someone tells me that I should have watched my diet, etc.–I played outside nearly daily and didn’t overeat. It turned out I had an endocrine disorder that went undiagnosed until my mid-twenties.

    • Kuri says:

      Same thing with my mom’s thyroid condition.

      And at times it can be the label. For instance, back with the craze of ugg boots, since you went “ugh” when you saw them, the real ones were make from suede, and suede doesn’t hold up too well to weather, so if those boots got wet and survived, the wearer was mocked for having knock offs.

  44. TBGBoodler says:

    It’s not as important what they call them as where they put them. Putting “Plus Size” clothing on a different floor from the rest of the clothing (sometimes near the appliance… nice move) is a strange decision, but many department stores do it.

  45. gedster314 says:

    I think plus size is much better then Sear’s Husky Jeans.

  46. kc-guy says:

    I’m a 27 year old, 5’5″, 140 lb male: size 14 Husky.

    If anybody has trouble not being able to dress like their peers or find age-appropriate clothing, it’s me. A shirt reading “When’s recess?” isn’t exactly appropriate attire for the office.

  47. Rhazpun says:

    There is no problem with self esteem unless a kid is grossly overweight. Being a husky isn’t a big deal. I remember kids wearing those sizes but I didn’t know until the kid told me.