How Big Is A BIG Head, Really?

We all have our little bugaboos. Some people hate their "crooked" noses and others bemoan their "weak" ankles. Remember that scene in Mean Girls? ("My nail beds suck!") But, lately we've noticed a rising trend among the weirdly specific body-part complaints: Big Head Syndrome. What started with a casual comment about my difficulty finding a hat that fits turned into an echo of agreement throughout the office, and soon devolved into a dog-pile of big-head havers insisting that, no, their noggin's really huge.
But, like, I really do have a big head, you guys. Hats sit atop my giant melon like the cherry on a sundae. If I do manage to jam the thing down, it will slowly slip up the sides of my hair, buckling against the mammoth circumference of of my skull, and finally fall to the floor. But, when no fewer than 27 of my coworkers responded to my "Do you have a big head?" email, I had to wonder if there was a conspiracy afoot. (Or ahead.)
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There was! The national average is estimated to fall between 22 and 23 inches, but there is no current government data on adult head size. Science has other stuff going on, guys. But, there is at least one head-related profession that's sure to have the facts: hatmakers. I called on Molly Yestadt of Yestadt Millinery to see if she'd heard this complaint before. Instantly, she replied: "I hear it all the time. Often, it's not actually true."
So, was it us, or were the hat and sunglass industries engendering this new form of body dysmorphia?
"A sample size — a women's medium — is 22.5 inches. But that's actually kind of small. I make some of my samples 23 inches. If you can fit into a sample, you don't have a gigantic nog."
Ah-hah! But, we haven't even considered evolution. Yestadt explains that "people are bigger in general," these days. "It's very likely that the industry just hasn't caught up. Think about it. How many people can fit into their grandmother's clothing?"
Yet, we all continue to see gigantic domes facing us in the mirror. So, I rounded up 14 staffers who claimed to suffer from this affliction (myself included). I asked each participant to explain their experience of big-headedness — their woeful tales of too-tight glasses and moon-faced selfies. Then, I whipped out a measuring tape to see where we really stack up.
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As suspected, we are all head-orexic. Here, you'll see 14 otherwise intelligent women explaining a problem they do not have — and the math that proves it. Now, you can put a lid on those outsize-cranium concerns.
1 of 14
Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Jordan Rubin, social media assistant

"I think my big-head complex started when I was a kid — I basically had the fully grown head of an adult on the body of a small child. Since then, I've found myself inventing all kinds of big-head problems. (I can't date that guy because his head is way smaller than mine. My hair can't be cut past a certain length or else everyone will realize I've been hiding a huge melon this whole time)."

Head Size: 22.75
2 of 14
Photographed by Aura Friedman.
Ida Hariri, associate photo editor


"I dare you to find a pair of eyeglasses that fits my face without leaving giant indents on my nose or squeezing the back of my ears. I've been looking for a pair wide enough to fit my head (but still look cute!) for over a year now. My office seat-mate can attest to the number of ordered — and returned — boxes of glasses."

Head Size: 22.7
3 of 14
Photographed by Chantal Adair.
Gina Marinelli, associate fashion features editor

"There's nothing more disheartening than picking up that one-size-fits-all hat that clearly did not take your big ol' noggin into consideration. In fact, one size never fits all when it comes to my head. One size just barely balances on the top of my head. And, usually causes my ears to abnormally stick out. And, sometimes squeezes my brain until I get a little light headed."

Head Size: 22.65
4 of 14
Photographed by Laura Perlstein.
Candace Sautman, associate PM/producer

"All of my friends can attest to my big-head problem and they're quick to call it out on the daily. It also doesn't help that my hair is huge — making it nearly impossible to find a hat of any kind to grace this melon head of mine. But I have no shame. Big head = big brains in my book!"

Head Size: 22.7
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5 of 14
Photographed by Chantal Adair.
Kelsey Miller, staff writer

"I once mentioned my giant-headedness to my therapist, probably in a semi-subconscious attempt to make him refute this fact. All he said was, 'Large heads look good on television.' So, that's great news for me, a writer."

Head Size: 22.75
6 of 14
Headshot Photographed by Sarah Balch.
Willow Lindley, associate fashion editor

"I love a beanie, don't get me wrong, but I'd love to be able to try a hat that's not completely elastic at some point. And, so far, I have't had a lot of luck finding one that fits."

Head Size: 23
7 of 14
Headshot Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Gabrielle Korn, beauty assistant

"I don't know if it's just because my twin sister has a considerably smaller-sized head than me, but I've always felt like there's just a moon perched on my neck. Slouchy hats never slouch on me unless I buy men's sizes, headbands instantly give me a headache, and when I look at pictures of myself with other people all I can see is how much larger my face is."

Head Size: 22.25
8 of 14
Photographed by Winnie Au.
Connie Wang, style director

"My head isn't large, volume-wise, but due to a habit of sleeping on my back as an infant, I have a really flat head that's also wide (blame it on a rice-filled pillow). What that means is that hats are always too tight, side to side, but too roomy, front to back. Sunglasses never fit my wide head, and the arms are always too long."

Head Size: 22.65
9 of 14
Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Susana Delgadillo, software engineer

"I'd found a gorgeous, unwanted orange bike helmet up for grabs in the office one late night. I picked it up and tried it on, and at the time I thought it was strange that no one had grabbed it before me. Turns out it was an XL helmet."

Head Size: 22.5
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10 of 14
Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Neha Gandhi, executive editor, features

"My head may not be traditionally large in the unfittable-where-your-hat-goes way, but I have a large face that makes it really hard to take pictures with normal-headed people. You end up having to pull back so that perspective tricks people into believing you aren't a weird bobble head. That said, in both high school and college, I found myself a best friend who could commiserate over similar big-head issues, and I think having that kind of solidarity has actually made the problem so much worse — in my, ahem, head."

Head Size: 22
11 of 14
Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Jinnie Lee, staff writer

"As much as I love them in theory, turtlenecks are a total nightmare for me. My head looks like a big, floating globe."

Head Size: 22.5
12 of 14
Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Colleen Barrett, content editor

"I haven't tried on a hat since I was about 12, and that was when they stopped fitting me. But, other than that, life is pretty normal. I get up, cut an extra five inches into my shirt's head hole and get on with it."

Head Size: 22.8
13 of 14
Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Leeann Duggan, style features editor

"I always knew I was a Moon-face McGee. It wasn't until I attempted the early-aughts fedora trend that I realized I had an equally rotund head to match. I remember complaining to my mom that I could only fit in guys' hats, and she said, 'It's okay, honey, studies show that people with large heads are considered more attractive. Like George Lopez.' Being as attractive as George Lopez: It's every girl's dream!"

Head Size: 22.75
14 of 14
Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Emily O'Brien, software engineer

"Hats never fit me... it's a small price to pay for having this giant brain."

Head Size: 22.3
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