About a month ago or so, I finally found plaid pants at H&M. I’ve been looking for the perfect pattern and fit for years and when I spotted, not one, but TWO different pairs in exactly the style I wanted, I was ecstatic. Being in a rush during lunch time, I fit on the one pair that I saw first and it was a good fit, I was a little confused about the sizing (I had to take a size up) and as I walked to the cashier, I spotted the other gem and just grabbed the same size.
The disappointment when I got home to find that the 2nd pair was way too small was overwhelming. We’re talking cannot get over my thighs, never-mind my ass too small. How on earth was this possible? It may be different cuts and styles, but surely the leg room should be about the same, whether it’s high-waisted or hipsters. Confused, I went back to exchange to another size up (size 12) because to me having the plaid pants I’ve always wanted was more important than the label inside it.
But it got me thinking, how many times have we, as women, given so much power to that label on the inside of a clothing item? How many times have we walked away feeling awful about ourselves because we had to take a size up? Or put down a piece of clothing we knew would up our confidence but due to its size we decided “nah, it’s not meant to be.”
I decided to run a few polls on my Instagram page to see if I am the only one who’s been impacted by this inconsistency. About 80 ladies responded to my questions and the results were as follows:
- Does your pants size differ from shop to shop? 94% YES
- Does your shirt size differ from shop to shop? 79% YES
- Does your dress size differ from shop to shop? 85% YES
- Have you ever bought DIFFERENT sized clothing items at the same store (2 pants, different sizes? 80% YES
- Where have you found more consistency in sizing? 78% in-store, 22% online
- What is your general mood when you fit on clothes in store? 36% Happy, 64% Meh
- Does different sizing affect your mood after fitting on an item? 76% YES
SIZE ZERO DEATH MATCH
The above is actually pretty concerning but nothing new. The Business Insider ran 2 articles earlier this year regarding this very topic of South Africa’s ill fitting clothes (referenced below). For years we’ve been told that we have to be a certain size. Growing up in the late 90’s, being a size zero was THE size to be, and as an impressionable teenager in the midst of puberty, and a high school environment equivalent to scenes in “Mean Girls”, no wonder my self-esteem, body perception and confidence was non-existent. Our magazines were filled with waif-like models, shoving that Victoria Secret Ideal body down our bulimia-burned throats. Graphic yes, but so fucking true. I would never forget crying the day I had to buy a size 10 jeans, I felt fat but I was far from it. I was born with child bearing hips as some peers then liked to point out and I couldn’t cut them off to fit into a smaller size.
Fast forward 15 years later, thank god the body positive movement has started and growing faster by the day. But we’re far from making enough progress to make women really feel confident in their clothes, never-mind their own skin. The media then, and social media now, plays a big role in the way we feel about ourselves and tend to play on the extremes. From the super skinny models of the 90’s to the plus-size (<FUCK I hate this word) pioneers of the current world, we seem to fluctuate between extremes. And clothing brands will naturally follow popular media to sell, sell, sell.
But where is the middle ground? Where is the “normal” girl on the street, girl boss in the office sized models? And how do us, as normal women, deal with these forced ideals where we don’t fit in and the inconsistencies in the clothing that we want to purchase in aid of feeding our confidence?
We are at the mercy of manufactures, sub-standard quality control performed by retailers, brands that want to turn profit and media that decide what is the next best size. We cannot even trust the luxury brands to be consistent and here we are basing our entire self-esteem on one label inside one piece of clothing.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
I don’t have the answers or solutions to change something as big as the media, brands or manufacturers. These are things that we cannot change on our own, and probably not ever. The only idea that comes to mind is an International Clothing Size Standard catered to different regions but that’s just me dreaming big.
We can, however, change our reaction to it. We can practice and reinforce positive self-talk, self-love and kindness towards ourselves and others, during these extreme and inconsistent times. I want to appeal to you, motivate you, beg you, to not let that label define you. You are so much more than a number on a tag, sewed onto a piece of material.
The below meme has some pretty good advice, “All you can do in life is to try solve the problem in front of you”, and in the case of clothing sizes, I recommend you BUY that size up if you want that gorgeous dress, and you CUT that label right out when you get home.