Scientists who study human measurement work in a field called anthropometry. They’ve developed specific metrics and methods that help to track median shoulder width.
This information is helpful to retailers because it allows them to structure one-size-fits-most garments for specific body types.
Human physical development has been evolving over the years. Average heights have been rising, meaning shoulder width measurements are getting broader.
Does that mean you’ve got wide shoulders if they measure 20 inches across – or more?
Are 20-Inch Shoulders Wide?
The average shoulder width for women is approximately 14.5 inches. For adult men, the median shoulder length is about 16 inches. That means anyone with 20-inch-wide shoulders is significantly above-average with this measurement.
Testosterone causes a person’s shoulders to grow wider. Estrogen is responsible for creating broader hips.
Although many people think that they stop growing once they reach 18, it’s possible for some people to have a growth spurt in their mid-20s. If you want to broaden your shoulders and you’re in that age range, it might help to take products that potentially encourage more testosterone production.
You can also speak to your doctor about getting a prescription product if you think that you have low-T levels.
It is also possible to broaden your shoulders by building muscle in that area. It might be helpful to have a protein supplement available to coordinate with your workouts if you choose this tactic for adding body broadness.
As you can see in the following size chart, having 20-inch shoulders is incredibly rare for women – even if you’re muscular, have a broad body build, or are carrying more weight than the average person.
|Shirt Size||Bust Measurement||Sleeve Measurement||Shoulder Measurement|
|Small (S)||34 to 36 inches||15 to 20 inches||14 inches|
|Medium (M)||38 inches||21.5 inches||15 inches|
|Large (L)||40 inches||22 inches||16 inches|
|Extra Large (XL)||42 inches||22.5 inches||16.5 inches|
|2XL||44 inches||23 inches||17 inches|
|3XL||46 inches||23 inches||17.5 inches|
|4XL||48 inches||23 inches||18 inches|
|5XL||50 inches||23 inches||18.5 inches|
|6XL||52 inches||23.5 inches||19 inches|
As you can see, having 20-inch shoulders puts you off the chart of the standard sizing profiles used today. You’d need to wear an 8XL garment to have something that fits you comfortably.
That’s why I tend to have custom clothes made for me. If I wore 8XL stuff, the shirt would be more like an ankle-length dress.
I also tend to wear more tanks when I’m working out or running errands. You don’t need to worry about shoulder size with those options.
Why Women with Broad Shoulders Should Be Proud of Them
Guys are often seen as being more attractive and stronger when they have 20-inch shoulders or larger.
When women have broad shoulders, society often views that result as unnatural or unattractive.
I think that women should be viewed the same way as men. Although I don’t have broad shoulders by this definition, I see a woman with broadness as a strong, powerful leader. She’s the type of person who steps up for the community and gets stuff done.
Here are some reasons why I think you should be proud of those broad shoulders.
1. Some guys (and women) find this trait attractive.
Count me in with this category. Women with broad shoulders are a noticeable force. I mean, why would fashion designers create square shoulders pads in garments if it wasn’t an attractive trait?
What I love is a woman who doesn’t need shoulder pads to show off a square look. To me, that means she’s fit, bold, and courageous.
When you’re looking for romance, having broad shoulders lets you know right away who wants to be around you – and who doesn’t. Some guys aren’t big fans of this physical trait, but that’s their loss.
It’s better to find out that you’re dating a loser soon rather than later. And if he (or she) tries anything funny, you’ll have the power to defend yourself.
2. The human body shrinks as it ages.
Gravity does a number on our bodies as time passes. When you reach the 65+ age demographic, it can cause some people to lose a couple inches on their height because it just compacts your joints, spine, and tendons.
That’s also why the shoulders of the average elderly woman are shapeless, atrophied, or lack character.
If you put in some work with strength training during your adult years, this outcome doesn’t have to be your destiny. Plenty of women put in hours at the gym, lifting weights, and have beautiful shoulders well into their 70s and 80s.
I put in the work today because I don’t want to look frail or vulnerable when I get older. The last thing I want is those grandma clothes to look like drapes when I’m strolling with my girls around the neighborhood with our tiny dogs.
3. Broad shoulders are awesome for athletic endeavors.
I don’t have any scientific data that supports my perspective here. It’s based on something that I would consider as common sense, backed up by my personal experience is playing basketball and volleyball.
Can you imagine hitters going for the kill with a small upper body? What about trying to achieve a long drive on the golf course without having broad shoulders to generate power.
Even tossing a Frisbee is easier when you have broad shoulders that deliver momentum to the throw.
For me, I’ve noticed significant gains when lifting weights after I packed some muscles on around the shoulders. When there is more rotary force-generating torque, you can accomplish a lot more athletically.
I don’t always like going to the gym because of the unwanted attention you get when lifting weights as a woman. That’s why I’ve invested in a high-quality home gymnasium that I’ve installed in my garage.
The Marcy MWM-998 Home Gym is one of the best investments I’ve made in myself in recent years. It comes with a 150-pound weight stack that you can customize to whatever skill level you’re at right now.
That means you don’t need to worry about loading or unloading weights before getting to work.
I enjoy the vertical butterfly and the chest press with this multifunction piece, but you’ll also develop your biceps, triceps, and more by getting into a solid routine.
It comes with a removable curl pad for isolation exercises. It took me about 45 minutes (with some help!) to get it put together and ready to use.
4. Broad shoulders hold up purse straps better.
Although you might laugh at this reason, it’s been a practical benefit of having broad shoulders. You can carry a crap-ton of stuff in an oversized purse when you’ve got extra strength and support there.
I watch women with a smaller frame try to carry something similar, and those purses are always slipping off the shoulders. I’m like – girl, you need a clutch.
Even worse, I see women hunching their shoulders to support a heavy purse. I bet they spend a fortune on yoga.
5. Strong women intimidate narcissistic men.
We’re all taught to defend ourselves against those people (usually men) who think they can take advantage of a woman by herself. My mother and I used to take self-defense classes all the time.
When I started filling out in high school, I noticed that fewer guys would keep track of where I was going. I became less of a target because they saw me as a potential physical threat.
While my friends were dealing with narcissistic guys who tried to gaslight them for everything, I only had a few men who even had the courage to approach me. All but a couple would make remarks about how strong or imposing I was as a woman.
That’s why broad shoulders are an asset. They let you say, “Boy, bye!” without the same headache. They’re scared to do something, especially if they’re skinnier and weaker than you.
Even if you don’t take martial arts or box, a woman with broad shoulders offers the visual threat of a knockout punch. Those squirrely guys want an easy mark, and that’s not you.
So, yeah – I don’t get the same amount of attention as my friends do. I also have much less drama in my life in comparison, which makes me feel like I come out ahead.
Should I Focus on Getting Broad Shoulders?
Women who work out regularly can develop naturally broad shoulders because of muscle toning and building. This extra strength is helpful for many individual reasons, including extra strength and flexibility. It’s a choice worth considering for those who want to get back into shape or enhance what they have already.
When I was in my teens, my parents took me to Oregon for our family vacation. We spent two weeks exploring the coast, camping in the mountains, and enjoying everything that Portland offers.
During one of our adventures, we stopped by a cave. The touring business made us put on all the safety gear, including a hard hat. It seemed like it would be a fun experience.
While we were going through the cave with our assigned group, we got to a spot where the guide said that anyone with broad shoulders would need to stoop and turn sideways to get through the area.
Everyone just walks right through in front of me. When it was my turn, I knew right away that I wasn’t going to fit through that space like everyone else. So, I followed the instructions the guide offered, and we finished the experience.
After the tour was over, the guide came up to me and said that I was the first woman he’d ever met that couldn’t fit through the passage. “Is that a compliment?” I remember asking.
“It’s just unusual,” he said with a shrug.
That’s what life is like with broad shoulders as a woman. People like to give you random comments about your appearance – as if they’re an expert about who you are. Some guys turn and stare. Others flinch away like I’ve punched them.
For me, all women with broad shoulders should feel proud of who they are. Whether you’ve got this trait because you’re fit or you were born that way, I think you should flaunt what you’ve got.
You’re the only “you” out there in this world. If people don’t like it, then ignore the haters.