Well, if you’re here, welcome to the rabbit hole that is the Kibbe Image Identity System. I’m only half-joking.
The Kibbe body types are an array of 13 style types based on physical characteristics (and personality essence).
Unlike the traditional (fruit) body shape theory, which focuses on achieving balance and symmetry, Kibbe’s archetypes are more in line with style essences theory.
These theories aim at creating an overall harmonious style image of a person rather than focusing on styling individual body parts or hiding your flaws.
So, wait remind me, what is the kibbe body system?
The Kibbe body system was developed by David Kibbe in the 1980s. It’s an image identity system that evaluates your body on three main components: bone structure, flesh, and facial features. It evaluates your balance of yin (soft, rounded), and yang (angular, straight) within each of these features.
From there you are placed within 5 main families (Dramatic, Natural, Classic, Gamine, or Romantic) and then placed in one of thirteen different Image IDs.
The 13 Kibbe IDs are:
- Dramatic (D)
- Soft Dramatic (SD)
- Flamboyant Natural (FN)
- Natural (N)
- Soft Natural (SN)
- Dramatic Classic (DC)
- Classic (C)
- Soft Classic (SC)
- Flamboyant Gamine (FG)
- Gamine (G)
- Soft Gamine (SG)
- Theatrical Romantic (TR)
- Romantic (R)
Have no idea what I’m talking about? You should start here, with an introduction to the Kibbe System itself.
Now, Does Your Kibbe ID Change When You Gain Weight?
The simple answer is no. Your ID will not change if you gain weight. Because the Kibbe system takes into account your bone structure and how your flesh lays on your bones, your ID will not change.
However, your ID can become more evident if you gain weight and see where your weight tends to congregate.
I’m not going to lie, the Kibbe system has taken on a life of its own. David Kibbe has gone on to say the only person able to type you, is you (or him). I personally think it’s developed a life of its own. And, the suggestions keep evolving.
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So Why Would I Use the Kibbe System?
So, despite some of the nuances and complicated systems within the Kibbe system, it truly is a great place to start. It’s not necessarily a “body typing” system- like the traditional fruit system.
Instead, it is referred to as an Image Identities System, that aims to look at your entire image and embrace a love yourself and your style attitude. It’s not a “body typing system”- at least not in the traditional sense.
So, does one “outlier” feature exclude you from a type- not necessarily. But, it is complex and it kind of depends on which trait you find as your outlier.
In this article, we will be diving into how weight gain plays into the types.
And, no, being plus-size does not automatically make you a romantic.
TW: If you suffer from eating disorders, or body dysmorphia, I encourage you not to type your body. Even if Kibbe has a more holistic approach than traditional body typing, it still involves studying your body intensely and evaluating different parts of your body. Not only can this be hard to discern if you suffer from these issues, but it can also be detrimental to your mental health. So please, proceed accordingly.
NOTE: Now, I will be using the term “overweight” in this article. This is absolutely not a commentary on health or an assessment of what is or is not plus-size. Because honestly, we could go deep into the problematic sizing in the fashion world today.
But, for this article, I may use the term overweight for some descriptions, because that is the term David Kibbe uses, in his original text, Metamorphosis.
Let’s just remember that David Kibbe created a great foundational system, that involves a lot of charts, and a lot of nuances. But, his personal communication style is very fluid. Which, is probably a root problem to understanding some of these types.
Now, please don’t come for me. While I am citing his book for the base theories, I am also giving my interpretation and examples. Kibbe fails to provide a lot of plus-size examples, and if he has done so, they are not easily accessible to the public. If you want to respectfully debate something I say, please bring it up in the comments.
Kibbe Weight Gain Patterns for Each ID
While the original Kibbe ID examples are definitely not plus-sized, David Kibbe does have a section in the book on each ID’s weight gain if overweight.
Here are those descriptions:
Reminder: You should not use this one element to determine your ID.
Dramatic: For the Dramatic ID heaviness usually congregates around the hip and upper thigh area as opposed to the upper torso.
Soft Dramatic: For the Soft Dramatic, their weight gain will show at the fleshiest parts of the body; the bust, hips, waist, upper thighs, upper arms, and especially in the face.
Flamboyant Natural: The Flamboyant natural’s weight gain will make their body become more square and stocky, and their face will appear fleshier and can look puffy. Extreme weight gain will collect primarily from the waist down.
Natural: The Natural ID body tends to remain straight (weight gain does not create curviness). Excess weight tends to make you more square in shape as it broadens the midsection/waist area. Large weight gains give a very stocky appearance.
Soft Natural: The Soft Natural ID will often become extremely soft and fleshy, with the waist thickening. The upper arms, thighs, and hips tend to collect excess weight and cellulite most rapidly.
Dramatic Classic: The Dramatic Classic ID will have “excess weight” show up right away and it will collect from the waist down. The DC tend to gain weight in the hips and thighs, and rarely gain weight around the bustline. The heavier you get, the more your body will resemble the traditional pear body type.
Classic: The Classic ID will remain symmetrical and balanced with weight gain. Therefore your weight gain, even larger amounts, will be evenly distributed. (In my opinion, this is another reason why the pure classic ID is a less common type).
Soft Classic: The Soft Classic ID body becomes very soft with weight gain. And their facial features become more fleshy. A “thickish” appearance is usually the result of excess weight and your waist definition will be the first to go.
Flamboyant Gamine: The Flamboyant Gamine ID will tend to become stocky and more square. Excess weight usually collects from the waist down, rarely above. Their arms and legs, waist, and the hip area often become thicker. The FG face may become very “puffy” or fleshy.
Gamine: The Gamine ID will gain weight in the hip and waist areas. It is very rare for weight gain to appear above the waist. If a Gamine is a larger weight, the body will appear square or stockier, as opposed to curves forming.
Soft Gamine: The Soft Gamine ID Body tends to get very rounded because weight mainly collects in the bust and hip areas. Arms and thighs can get very soft, and the soft gamine face tends to become quite fleshy and soft. It is common for Soft Gamines to feel overweight, even if they are not, because of their natural roundness paired with the short limbs.
Theatrical Romantic: The Theatrical Romantic ID figure will remain hourglass, and even with weight gain will have a defined waist. Upper arms, upper thighs, and face will become more fleshy.
Romantic: The Romantic ID will only get more rounded throughout with weight gain. Their face all gets more “full”.
When Do These Weight Gain Clues Not Help?
Kibbe advises not to try typing yourself before you are 25. If you are younger than 25, your body is still technically developing and changing, and your ID will not be accurate.
In my personal opinion, I also believe age, hormones, and pregnancy can tweak which ID we fall into. While it won’t drastically change your ID from dramatic to romantic because your bone structure can’t change that much, it can slightly alter (imo) which sub-type you may fall into.
Pregnancy can widen your hip bones, age can affect how you carry/gain weight, and hormones can definitely make your weight carry differently. So while these factors may not change your ID, they can certainly help you narrow the type down or change your own perspective on the ID.
I know personally, after pregnancy, my hips got wider, giving my personal proportions less emphasis on my shoulder width. See here:
Now, obviously, the pose and what I’m wearing will affect the visual seen above. But, trust me, while my weight is the same, my hips are wider.
So overall, will these life events change your ID? As long as you are over 25, they really won’t move the needle too much.
Kibbe Weight Gain Examples (not plus-size)
Ok, so Kibbe doesn’t publicly have a varied list of “plus-size” ID’s- so we will do that next.
But, for now, let’s look at some of Kibbe’s own verified examples, and how they have gained weight. These examples are not “overweight” or plus-size necessarily. But they are at their heavier sizes, and we can compare them to their underweight or average size to see how each type gathers the weight.
And let me preface by saying, I’m a little uncomfortable displaying these people at their “smallest” and their “largest”. I feel it can be easily misconstrued to be favoring one size over the other, as they are usually more “done up” in the smaller-weight pictures. So please note, I am only trying to visually explain the weight gain patterns, and make no differentiation in beauty or worth at any size.
Also, some of these photos are just “unflattering” photos, and unfortunately, celebrities bear the brunt of having their not-great photos publicized. So, let’s go into this by saying all of these women are gorgeous, at any weight.
And my last disclaimer before we begin is that yes, some of these photos are at different ages. It’s natural to gain weight and hold weight as we age. So while I agree generally with Kibbe’s assertions your type doesn’t change with age, your type can become more obvious with weight gain. So that is what we are trying to show here. We are NOT comparing these celebrities at young or old ages and deciding one is their “ideal” weight. It’s unrealistic and harmful to assume we will be the same size our entire lives. So… finally… we can begin.
Dramatic Weight Gain Example
Soft Dramatic Weight Gain Example
Flamboyant Natural Weight Gain Example
Natural Weight Gain Example
Soft Natural Weight Gain Example
Dramatic Classic Weight Gain Example
Classic Weight Gain Example
Soft Classic Weight Gain Example
Flamboyant Gamine Weight Gain Example
Gamine Weight Gain Example
Soft Gamine Weight Gain Example
Theatrical Romantic Weight Gain Example
Romantic Weight Gain Example
Plus Size Kibbe ID Examples
Ah, another reminder, but we must. These women have not been officially typed by David Kibbe, nor have they personally typed themselves as these IDs. So this is me using Kibbe’s defining traits and features for each type and showing how they exhibit in these models.
It is obviously not recommended to type anyone off one photo, so take these as inspiration-only.
Now, our definition of “average size” and sizing in the fashion industry is seriously skewed. So, some of these examples are not “truly” plus-size. But they do represent the different kibbe ID’s in a more mid-plus size range (no size zeros).
And please remember that without elements like their height and a perfect Kibbe exercise photo to use, I am taking some liberties. You can see where I note on the photos certain assessments for more clarification.
Dramatic Plus Size Examples
Let’s look at this plus-size dramatic example. Now, some of Kibbe’s original descriptions need to be tweaked or at the very least generally construed when taking other size samples. First and foremost the Dramatics have a long vertical line, they look tall. Now, with plus-size or larger size examples we can default to thinking their weight makes them have horizontal emphasis. This is something we need to be careful with.
The woman above looks tall and straight. Her facial features have yang qualities, with straight lips, a sharp jawline, and an angular nose (it’s not actually blunt when you view her other photos). Her shoulders, while slightly fleshier than the traditional Dramatic IDs have a sharp right angle junction. And her waist is straight.
We also see a little more weight in her upper thigh and hip area, which is traditionally where Dramatics gain their weight.
Her face actually reminds me slightly of Kiera Knightley- with the strength in features and the slightly masculine qualities. And we know Kiera is used as a prime Dramatic example.
So while the woman in this photo has fleshiness, her bone structure and how the flesh lays on top is clearly Dramatic.
Soft Dramatic Plus Size Examples
So this woman looks tall and curvy, and the soft dramatic can be defined as “bold yang with pronounced yin undercurrent”.
Her facial features have a lot of yang qualities in the jawlines, the nose, and the cheekbones, but that paired with the lush yin lips and slightly upturned eyes give her that yin undercurrent. She has some delicate features but they are offset but her dominant yang and vertical line. We notice the length and angular features before we notice her curve.
Flamboyant Natural Plus Size Examples
So this Flamboyant Natural would most likely be considered average size or mid-size and not technically plus-size. However, she is a good example of how FN carries weight, and that they tend to still look broad (shoulders), athletic, and tall.
Natural Plus Size Examples
A little trick I like to use in order to see trait dominance (with maybe a not perfect picture), is to blur my eyes and see what I notice first. Do those blurry shapes look initially wide or tall. (This is just a quick way to decipher it without doing the official Kibbe exercises).
You can see with her shape, her width is the first obvious trait, and then if we dig deeper into the features you see a lot of blunt edges, and moderate features.
She does have a bust, but that’s not a disqualifier for the natural family. What we have to imagine is that if she was standing straight towards us would her bust line create a curve to her overall silhouette or shape. And I’m taking liberties, but given how square she is, I think her bust would not give us a curved outline.
Soft Natural Plus Size Examples
You can really see the moderate features and vertical line in this curvy soft natural example. We can see her broad and blunt shoulder line and her soft hourglass shape that is furthered by her weight gain gently thickening her thighs and hips.
Kibbe describes Soft Naturals as a “slightly soft and fleshy body type on an angular frame combined with an appealing innocent essence” and that fits this curvy example very well.
Dramatic Classic Plus Size Example
I am showing you two different dramatic classic examples so that you can understand even if you follow the same weight patterns, not all of the Kibbe ID examples are going to be carbon copies of one another.
These women both have balanced, evenly-spaced facial features. Their shoulder lines are different but they both fall under the dramatic classic shoulder options. He states they can be tapered or slightly square and can appear narrow at times. The first DC example has a strong shoulder line, but compared to the rest of her body, they are more narrow and slightly square. The second has a more tapered and narrow shoulder line.
Kibbe says the Dramatic Classic is first and foremost a Classic ID, and both these women have balance and moderation to their appearance. The weight gain shows up in the hips and upper thighs and so they are now skewing more pear shape.
Classic Plus Size Example
Pure Classics are very rare, but I think this woman is a great example of a plus-size Classic. Now, the outfit fit and the tattoos might be throwing off my Strictly Kibbe fans, but let’s break down her shape.
I want you to blur your eyes, and see the shapes her body makes. While she is fleshy and soft, her fleshiness is evenly distributed throughout her body. And the shapes her body makes are very balanced from bust to waist to hips. And her face is extremely symmetrical and moderate. She has evenly spaced facial features, that are all characteristic of the pure classic.
Soft Classic Plue Size Example
Ok, so her hair and accentuated makeup is definitely giving a “romantic” essence. But, if we break down her actual features this woman actually fits better in the Soft Classic ID. That may be why her makeup seems too heavy for her face.
The soft classic has balanced yin and yang extremes with a slight lean towards yin. Kibbe calls it “slight soft physicality with a refined and gracious essence”.
This woman’s body is symmetrical and balanced, and she has soft edges at every juncture. She has a soft waistline, and is slightly curvy, but actually doesn’t have the “double curve” of a romantic. And her main body has a square shape to it, with fleshy edges. And you can see her waist has a slight thickness to it from weight gain.
Flamboyant Gamine Plus Size Example
It was difficult to find an available image of a plus-size or larger Flamboyant Gamine. I would say there is an innate bias against this plus-size figure as it tends to look shorter (something the modeling industry does not embrace), and it tends to look more square (another less common feature in mainstream media).
However, I think this woman is a good example of a plus-size flamboyant gamine. You can see in her photo that she does not appear overly tall, and is probably under 5 ft 5 in. She has a more square appearance, which is how weight gain shows for the FG. And her face has a lot of the FG staple traits: round eyes, oblong face shape, moderate lips, and a still visible cheekbone.
Despite her square shape, her shoulder line still remains prominent and angular.
Gamine plus size example
So I chose this image as a plus-size Gamine because I was able to preview some of her other photos and she does have a shorter vertical line in those photos. Here we can see that her tapered shoulders, that look petite in comparison to the rest of her body (no strong shoulder line).
The Gamine is described as yin in size (petite), yin in facial features (full, rounded), and yang in body type (straight, angular). Now, as the gamine gains weight there is less prominent angularity but, we can still see the straightness and square weight gain effect.
Now, Kibbe calls the gamines “sharply delicate physicality along with a fresh and spicy essence”. However, I think it’s important to realize how innately we have defined terms like “delicate” in our society, and re-think how they can be applied to any size.
The above woman has delicate features and physicality, and she has a youthful essence.
Soft Gamine Plus Size Example
Kibbe describes the soft gamine as “Yin in size (petite) and shape (curvy flesh, rounded features), and slightly Yang in your bone structure”. He references their doll-like facial features, as seen on this woman. She has a round face with large eyes, full lips, and a delicately broad nose.
She generally looks petite, with moderate to short limb length and small hands- all characteristics of the SG. The SG weight pattern collects in the bust and hips and will create a fleshiness in the arms and thighs. We can really see that displayed perfectly here.
Theatrical Romantic Plus Size Example
The Theatrical Romantic is soft yin with slight yang undercurrent- which basically means you are a romantic first with a slight dramatic undercurrent. This woman portrays the theatrical romantic well. She seems slightly sharper than a traditional romantic but still has the hourglass frame throughout weight gains and losses.
Her facial features really exhibit the TR: the upturned “bedroom” eyes, full lips, and soft cheeks. And her upper arms, face, and thighs are fleshy at her current size, consistent with weight gain patterns for the TR.
Romantic Plus Size Example
The Romantics are soft, round, and voluptuous at any size! And, I hope by now you’ve realized how every ID can have a range of weights and sizes within them.
This woman is a great example of the romantic ID. She has the double curve that creates an hourglass, but her weight is also visibly rounding out her midsection. Her face has traditional romantic features like a soft chin, a rounded nose tip, a slightly wider face, and a full face (common with the weight gain pattern).
Kibbe calls the romantics “dream spinners”… But honestly, I’m not sure what to do with that. Remember I mentioned how he created a very complex, structured system, but he himself uses very fluid creative communication. That would be an example of it.
Nevertheless- her romantic energy, soft, and curvy shape, and her petite height all make her a great example of a plus-size romantic. Remember, romantics don’t have to give “sexy” over-the-top vibes.
I hope this helps you all to visualize and further pinpoint your ID. Of course, these do not represent every single weight gain possibility for each type. But it should help you narrow down which one you are.
And of course, there is so much more to your ID than just your weight gain patterns. But these are some basic starting points to help you begin honing your kibbe ID and to expand past some of the original, narrowly defined ID examples.