Curvy Confidence? What's Holding Plus Size Women Back

Oct 07, 2013, 10:09 ET from Sonsi

BENSALEM, Pa., Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With  the fashion world paying increased attention to the plus size woman, a national survey reveals her perception of her own body image is holding her back.  In fact, the survey of 1,000 women sizes 14 and up points to a major confidence gap among this demographic.  While the vast majority of plus size women (85 percent) say they believe that beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes, fewer than half (49 percent) say that they embrace their own curves.

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Plus size retailer Sonsi conducted the survey to determine how the plus size market, now 60 percent of women in the U.S., perceive themselves, and how these perceptions might be preventing them from reaching their full fashion potential. 

"With plus size women gracing the pages of leading fashion magazines as well as the runways at New York Fashion Week, curvy women should feel good that they finally have a voice," says Kristin Mongello, Sonsi Director of E-commerce. "But surprisingly a majority of curvy women say they still lack the confidence to dress more fashionably. It really comes back to body image."

In keeping with its mission to inspire every plus size woman to embrace her curves, Sonsi worked with a team of curvy fashionistas to develop the world's first Curvy Quotient (CQ) Test, available exclusively at "Designed by curvy women for curvy women, our 2-minute test will help a plus size woman determine her Curvy Quotient, a measurement of her confidence and willingness to embrace her curves," says Mongello. 

According to Mongello, women who score a high CQ will be asked to share their tips with other curvy women. Those whose CQ needs some boosting will be directed to inspirational 'Boost Your Curvy Quotient' resources, including a 'Boost Your CQ' curated collection.

The national survey also reveals that plus size women eschew straight size fashion resources, models and celebrities, preferring to find their fashion inspiration among their plus size peers, and from plus size icons like Adele, Melissa McCarthy and Gabourey Sidibe. They're also embracing the many resources -- including plus size pages in national fashion magazines, plus size bloggers and runway shows, like Full Figured Fashion Week -- that have emerged to support this silent majority. 

"Culturally, the plus size fashion movement has come a long way toward giving women permission to love their bodies and embrace their curves," says Mongello. "When women stop criticizing their bodies, they feel happier, project more confidence and have more fun with fashion."  

Plus stylist and fashion icon Reah Norman applauds Sonsi for adding to the movement's momentum. "Growing up as a plus size teenager in the 90s, there weren't many stylish options for women my size," says Norman.  "My fashion choices were extremely limited.  In those days, if I wanted to look fashionable, I had to repurpose menswear and sew my own clothes.  Today, thankfully, plus size women of all ages have lots of fashionable choices, as well as a growing stable of beautiful, successful style icons they are proud to emulate.  Shopping destinations, like Sonsi, not only offer them a way to express themselves through fashion; they validate their beauty."

Norman encourages women to take the Curvy Quotient Test. "I am hoping that Sonsi's CQ Test and online 'Boost Your CQ' resources will help them on their path to becoming the full figured fashionistas they're meant to be."

About Sonsi®

Launched in 2010, Sonsi offers one of the largest online assortments of plus size women's apparel, accessories and products, specifically for women sizes 12 and above.  With hundreds of brands in one convenient shopping destination, Sonsi features a variety of price points from great names such as Kiyonna™, Lane Bryant®, alight, Sealed with a Kiss Designs (SWAK Designs), Ulla Popken®, IGIGI, Catherines®, Monif C., Cacique®, City Chic and many more. Sonsi, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ascena Retail Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASNA).

The 20-question survey was conducted by Op4G (Opinions For Good), a leading online market research panel. The survey was conducted on August 28September 2, 2013. Survey respondents were women sizes 14 and up.  The sample size was n=1,000 with a margin of error of 3.1%.