What’s the Opposite of Vanity Sizing?


Now I know regular readers of this blog have become accustomed to well-reasoned, witty arguments on issues relevant to modern women ;-), so this post might disappoint.  This is a rant.  After having a micro-meltdown on the subject in a shop a couple of weeks ago I figured it might be more constructive to write it down.

I am a size 12.  Or at least I thought I was.  Lately I’m not so sure.  I’ve been beginning to think that maybe I’m suffering from body dysmorphia, but rather than seeing myself as bigger than I actually am, I was deluding myself about being smaller.  Now, I know that different shops have different versions of UK dress sizes.  It was always a safe bet that fashion shops for younger women would cut their clothes smaller than more traditional brands like Marks and Spencer’s, who always sized their clothes more generously.  In fact, I’m sure a few years back there was some discussion over so-called vanity sizing.  This was when shops tried to flatter customers by cutting their clothes on the larger side, thus enabling customers to purchase clothes in smaller sizes.  Because apparently we women are that easily duped!

Over the last year or so, however, I have noticed that the sizing in some shops seem to be getting smaller and smaller.  So much so in fact, that I got a surprise when I  recently tried on a pair of trousers that I liked in a shop that I have frequented for years.  I couldn’t get the 14 over my thighs!  In fact, the only size I could get on and buttoned up was an 18.  I don’t think that I am that deluded about my size.  The real conundrum is that I recently got a top from the same shop which is a size 10 and fits perfectly, and I ‘aint no Nicki Minaj let me tell you.

It’s not just me, either.  On a recent shopping trip, one of my posse of rocking ladies had to buy a skirt in a 16, and a top in a 10.  She doesn’t have buttocks of Lopez-proportions either.  Even shoes seem to be ensnared in this evil plot.  I’ve been a size 6 since I was about fourteen and on a recent shopping trip I found myself having to try on a size 8 of one pair!  It seems like the whole industry is trying to tell us something!

Actually, in all seriousness, I think this is a bit more sinister.  Even as an intelligent woman who has pretty much made peace with the way she looks, I still felt a bit put out when I couldn’t get the trousers to fit in ‘my size’.  It’s not about the size the trousers were, it’s about how far out of whack the sizings are and the way this can make you question they way you feel, whatever size is ‘your size’.  There is a difference of six inches between a size 12 and a size 18.  If it can make me feel a little self-conscious, I can imagine that it could have a more significant impact on a more impressionable woman or girl.  It may seem like a trivial thing to get worked up over, but in a time when eating disorders and body image issues are at an all-time high, even the trivial things can have a massive impact on vulnerable individuals.

We are bombarded on a daily basis with images of women airbrushed to an impossible standard; it’s difficult to remember that that isn’t real.  That women come in all shapes and sizes, but we should be allowed to be the size we are without being made to feel that we should be smaller, larger or with bumps in different places.  It feels increasingly like the clothes industry is joining in the conspiracy.

Now maybe you feel that I’m making a bigger deal out of this than is strictly necessary.  I’m sure the size 8 shop assistant who had to deal with my complaint about the sizing in the shop felt that.  I think it’s one of these things that we are made to feel guilty about caring about.  Yes, it’s a small thing, but it can make people feel bad and that’s not cool.   I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts, stories and indeed, rants on this topic.

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