The Shape of You

The Average Woman Looks Amazing

Shelby Scott has become a social media superstar sharing fashion tips for women size 10–16.

By Zoe Sayler Photography by Carlton Canary January 22, 2024 Published in the Spring 2024 issue of Seattle Met

Still associate Abercrombie and Fitch with the baby tees and size exclusivity of the early aughts? A recent rebrand offers updated styles and a “Curve Love” denim line with hourglass-friendly tailored waists and extra room in the hips.

If you weren’t here, I would just be stripping down in my living room,” Shelby Scott half-yells from behind a wall as she changes. I’m about to watch the Seattle-area mom of two film a try-on video featuring a dress she found on Amazon. When she emerges, though, smoothing her blond bangs, steadying her iPhone on its tripod, and hitting record, she’s still wearing nothing but undergarments. 

“My followers have allowed me to radiate this confidence,” Scott says. “The more that I posted, and the more that I showed up, the more that I actually started believing the words that I was saying.”

It’s not unusual for fashion-oriented content creators to start their reels in shapewear or a matching bra-and-panty set. But for those who count themselves among
@shelbysaywhatblog’s hundreds of thousands of fans on Instagram and TikTok, seeing a woman whose body looks a lot like their own confidently rocking briefs or a bodysuit is nothing short of revolutionary. 

And Scott’s body does look a lot like the average woman’s—or, at least, far closer than most of the smiling faces you’ll come across on a casual social media scroll. She’s a 30-year-old with two little girls; she’s five foot four and a size 12, with cellulite she shows in workout videos and a “soft belly” she shows in snug dresses and curve-hugging jeans from stores like Aerie and Good American. (Sometimes these are paid brand partnerships; more often, she’s picking products and making a commission through shopping links.) She smiles wide and bright as she leans into the camera, dishing tips with the enthusiasm and intimacy of a bestie on FaceTime.

Scott has a deceptively simple goal: show other “midsize” women (those between a 10 and 16 in US sizes) that “we don’t have to be thin to be beautiful in our clothes.” 

Summersalt’s sustainable swimwear, available in sizes 0–22, tends toward classic silhouettes (but stops short of conservative).

Deceptively simple, because she hasn’t always believed that herself. “Candidly,” she says, her early videos, back when she was an aspiring influencer, show someone in search of the perfect “after photo” body that she now urges women to stop obsessing over. Then, near tears in a fitting room with her young daughter in tow, she had the epiphany that launched her career. “If I’m saying that it’s okay to hate my body, I’m telling her it’s okay to hate hers. And in that exact moment, everything changed.”

Struggling to find jeans that suit your curves? Scott films herself strutting around the living room in her favorite denim with a “visible belly outline” and a thousand-watt grin. Self-conscious about being larger than your partner? She shares sweet videos styling (and smooching) her size-small husband. “I naturally just started sharing a lot more midsize fashion, because I felt like my confidence was speaking through my wardrobe,” Scott says.

Bold patterns, bright colors, and “a relaxed, oversized bohemian fit” make Free People a go-to in Scott’s wardrobe: “I love the way they look and feel on my midsize body.”

Janet Kim, a former Seattle broadcast journalist and an acquaintance and fan of Scott’s, sums up her impact: “What Shelby has taught me is that I don’t have to be this stereotypical perfect body to actually look good in what I’m wearing and feel good about who I am.”

But don’t mistake Scott for a proponent of the body positivity movement—not exactly. She prefers to call it body neutrality. “At the end of the day, I don’t think we all leave the house feeling super hot and confident,” she says. But “a bad body-image moment doesn’t mean a bad body.”

You know that traditional thing, 'all-black is slimming'? All-black can just look beautiful. It doesn't need to be slimming.

In a society where Ozempic dominates the headlines and brand-new moms are expected to bounce back immediately postpartum, Scott encourages her followers to come by their body neutrality however they can get it. If she finds shapewear that smooths her silhouette and soothes her insecurities, or a pair of jeans that lifts her butt alongside her spirits, that’s a win. “I can’t change the culture I grew up in,” she says. “But I definitely can change the way I think about my body.”

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