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Good Question: 'Plus-Size' Or Average Size?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will include something new – two models who considered are plus-sized by the fashion industry. One of them is Robyn Lawley, an Australian model who appears as one of the magazine's "rookie" models. The other is Ashley Graham, who appears in an advertisement for Swimsuits for All, a swimwear company.

On Friday, Lawley said it was "ludicrous" she is being called a plus-sized model. Sports Illustrated never identified Lawley plus-sized, but her website labels her as plus-size. Most clothing companies start their plus sizes at 12 or 14.

"It's about time we forgo labels and embrace size diversity in the fashion world and mainstream media," she wrote in a Facebook post last week.

Lawley is a size 12 and Graham is a size 16 – close to the average dress size (14) for the American woman. So, what are our average heights and weights? Good Question.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, men were 68 inches in 1960. Now, they're almost 69 and a half. Women were just over 63 inches, but now average 64.

Average weights have changed more dramatically. In 1960, men were 166 pounds. Now they average 196. Women used to be around 140 pounds. Since 1960, it's jumped to 166.

"You see a larger number of people in the obesity range than there were in the past," said Barb Brower, a nutritionist with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Allina Health. "We've become a society that's too large."

But, Brower reminds people these are all averages and that everyone's muscle mass, body build and heights differ, so there can be very healthy women who wear a size 12 or 16. She applauds Sports Illustrated for having Lawley and Graham in the magazine because she says it's a step forward in showing it's ok to wear those sizes.

"To put it all into one size fits all is really hard," she said. "When you try to generalize it, it becomes unfair so to speak."

That's one of the challenges in dealing with size these days. Everyone has different heights, body builds, and muscle mass.

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