Sizing Me Up

This week in Our London, I told everybody what size clothing I wear. But my weight? You’ll never get that out of me. 

My column for this week centres on my irritation with the way women are categorized as regular or plus or fabulous or whatever they’ll come up with next. Why are we segregated and who decided where regular ends and plus begins? Those are the fundamental questions I address.

Desegregating the Sizes in Women’s Fashion.

One of my friends is a size zero. She wears clothing so small it’s no size at all. As I waited outside her change room prepared to give a thumbs-up or down, she whined loudly from behind the door that the jeans she was trying on were “huge! They’re hanging off me! Is there anything smaller than a zero?” “HUSH!” I warned her. “You’re going to get yourself killed in here!” And I was only sort of joking.

Clothing size is a big bugaboo with many women which is unfortunate because it seems to be completely arbitrary. A woman who is size six in one brand might be a four in another and an eight in another. At size twelve, I’m average for an adult Canadian woman. In many stores, twelve is also the last stop in regular sizes and the beginning of plus sizes.

No none seems to know who decided where regular ended and plus began, but all women’s clothing sizes seem designed to confuse. Joe Fresh recently announced “extended sizes” to include larger women among fans of their cheap and cheerful fashions but they’re still dividing us with separate regular and plus-size departments. Kmart in the US just put a cutesy spin on their women’s plus-size clothing by renaming it Fabulously Sized. In a timid half-measure, Kmart has started mixing larger sizes with the so-called regular-sized fashions, but it still has a distinct Fabulously Sized department. We have accepted this flawed system for too long. It’s one of the most ridiculous things about the fashion industry, along with expensive pre-ripped jeans and the proliferation of the man bun.

As a society, we’re getting fatter, there’s no question about it. But not everyone who’s bigger is too fat for their frame or even unhealthy. Obesity epidemic tracking relies heavily on Body Mass Index calculations, or BMI, which put even modestly overweight people into the category of morbidly obese. BMI doesn’t even take waist size into account, which we now know is a major indicator of health risks due to excess fat around the middle. If the skinny-obsessed fashion business cared a lick about our health, they’d label women’s items by waist size, like they do for men. When a man who usually takes a size thirty-two pant size suddenly needs a thirty-six, he’s going to take notice. And it will happen no matter where he shops.

Larger sizes aren’t specialty items for either men or women. Whether that’s cause for alarm or celebration doesn’t matter when it comes to the need to cover oneself when out in public.  It’s only polite.

There was a time when I was a size six. It wasn’t realistic for me. I was miserable, anemic, and on a steady diet of carrot and celery sticks. Admittedly, I need to deal with my love for Twizzlers Nibs and get more exercise. I’m working on it. Regardless, I deserve to feel good about how I dress. It’s time to do away with subjective rules that decide whether my shopping sisters and I are regular, plus, extended or fabulous.

3 thoughts on “Sizing Me Up”

  1. I have never been able to figure out womens sizing. Like what the hell is a double 0? When my family use to exchange gifts at Xmas and I had to buy for one of the women in the family, my solution was to send one of the other women to pick up the gift.

  2. Suzanne White

    well said!! Interesting that for most clothes I am a size 10 or sometimes 12 – and for those “designer” labels, I am an 8… I think they figure for the prices they are charging they might as well pay you a compliment 🙂

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