Tuesday, May 1, 2018

In Which I Talk About My Size

Fair warning: I am writing about clothing sizes and therefore writing about what size I wear in this post. I don't usually talk about that kind of stuff. I'm not making any comment on body sizes in general in this post, but about how sizes in women's fashion are all over the place and my own experience with my body right now. If you don't want to read about what size clothes I wear or my thoughts on how arbitrary American sizing is, skip this post.

Also, this is long. Sorry.

This weekend, for the first time in ages, I went shopping. I had a list of things I'd been wanting for awhile, and took advantage of Matt being out of town for a race to have a girl's afternoon with Elizabeth.

At the top of my list was "holey jeans". I used to hate torn jeans because I don't understand spending a lot of money on clothes that are already destroyed, but the trend has brainwashed me over time and I wanted a pair. Even though I'm too old to shop there, I decided to go to American Eagle because I know their jeans fit me and jean shopping can be traumatic, so I wanted to go somewhere I felt comfortable and "knew my size". Oh, the irony.

At AE, I found jeans in two different styles that looked promising: the jegging and the tomgirl.
Jeggings on the left, tomgirl on the right.
I took one look at the jegging and I grabbed a size 4. I didn't think too much of it, except to realize that I was about to try on a size I'd never bought before. I was sizing up.

I didn't have a problem with fitting into a larger size, but I was wondering how my body had changed so much in a year without my noticing it, especially considering how in-tune with it I've been since surgery. I accepted the change in my size but felt a little thrown off. My other clothes all fit. I am very happy with where my body is right now, especially as I've been able to run again, and I just felt a little baffled. (Of course, I immediately assumed my body had changed, and not the sizing at AE.)

Then, I grabbed the tomgirl, and, in the same way I knew I needed a 4 in the jeggings, I knew I needed a 0 here. In fact, the 0 was bigger than the 4 I had hung over my arm.

Obviously the tomgirl style is more relaxed in the legs, but it makes no sense to me that the actual sizing would be different because even if the style is different, if you're size X in something at a store, you should be that same size across the board, no matter the style. But the waist of the 0 in the tomgirl style jeans was a good inch - maybe even 1.5 inches - bigger than the 4 in the other style. I pointed this out to Elizabeth; we both found it ridiculous. When I tried them on, both styles fit me.
(As I was writing this, I remembered this video I saw a few weeks ago about how sizing is ridiculous and lawless.)

Now, this experience came a week after I measured myself for my groomsmaid's dress for Scott and Robby's wedding. That day, I was a little upset that my waist was bigger than I remembered it being when I last measured it in...well, maybe way back in high school, to be honest. I looked in the mirror and suddenly, for the first time in months, was unhappy with what I saw.

And then I was upset for being upset, because like I said above, I'm very happy with my body and its abilities these days, and I'm confident in how it looks. I should be past being upset over arbitrary things like sizes and inches!

Literally the day after I measured myself I was over it and totally happy with myself again, but it was frustrating that putting a number on my body derailed my self-acceptance so easily, if only for a short time.

Back to jeans shopping. Because we went shopping so soon after the dress experience, I felt kind of inoculated to the shock of picking up a size of jeans larger than I'd ever worn before. Like I said, I was surprised, but I didn't experience the kind of self-hatred spiral that I may have in the past, before I really came to terms with my body. I didn't have a major reaction until I'd compared the two jeans and realized how absolutely and totally bonkers American clothing sizing is when it comes to women's fashion. I mean, I knew this before, but to see it laid out for me so clearly was almost funny.

Here we were, in one store, a single brand of clothing, a single type of clothing, and there was a four-size difference between the two jeans that fit me!

I ended up going with the tomgirl because I had wanted a relaxed, airy, comfortable jean for summer. I also branched out of my comfort zone and bought a lighter wash that I've ever owned. The rest of our shopping trip was uneventful; I found most of the other items on my list and we had Moe's for dinner. But I couldn't stop thinking about how messed up women's sizes are.
The fact that women have to play a guessing game every time we go shopping, and yet shopping is marketed as something women should want to do and have fun doing, is ludicrous. Shopping is stressful. If clothes don't look good we tend to blame ourselves instead of the fit or style. I had to remind myself that I'm not made to fit clothes; they're made to fit me. I'd love to see some kind of standard in sizing for women's clothes. I dealt with fitting into a larger size without an issue, but many women struggle with accepting the number on a tag - even though we know the number doesn't even mean anything.

My point is that I hope I remember this story the next time I go shopping and have to size up. Sizes are totally arbitrary and bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Every body is valid and deserves to be dressed in a way that is comfortable and flattering. What the tag says doesn't matter. Feeling confident, strong, sexy, cute, or whatever feeling you're going for in those jeans? That's what maters.



  1. OMG I LOVE YOUR HOLEY JEANS!!! I have a pair of black jeans with holes. They're very stretchy so they are tight, not baggy like yours. I wore them to my cousin's baby shower and felt super cute in them. Well as soon as I got there my mom and my aunts made fun of my pants! I was like, holy shit, should I go home and change!? I know this little story has nothing to do with your post topic but I just wanted to share. :)

    Clothing sizes do not mess with my brain because every store, every company, every style is different sizes. I know I can wear once size in one store and another size in another store. It is ridiculous but because I have accepted this for awhile, it doesn't bother me.

    WEIGHING myself bothers me, so I don't do it. A stupid number on the scale can make me INSANE so I avoid, avoid, avoid. I never ever weigh myself and when I go to the doctor, I ask them not to tell me what the number says.

    It's too bad American sizing isn't like in Europe where it's literally your actual measurement.

    I like what you said about how we're not made to fit into clothes, the clothes are made to fit us. There are certain styles of clothes that I wish looked right on me but some just don't. Then there are others that are flattering on me so I go for those.

    Will you be mad if I copy cat and get jeans like yours!!?? :)

    1. I really want a pair of black holey skinny jeans, too. Lately I've been embracing my teenage inclination to wear all black all the time lol!

      I think I am not usually bothered by clothing sizes being weird but this time it really threw me off because I'm used to fitting between a 00-2, but I've never fit a 4...so it was just a moment of "what, what?" before I remembered it's all arbitrary. Funny you mention European sizes...the "small" there is a 4 - they really didn't have smaller sizes than that in most dresses - so when I was studying in Scotland and still VERY disordered in my eating habits, I was very upset by European sizing!

      Also, if you get jeans like mine because I inspire you to get them that will make me feel SO fashionable and awesome!!! haha

    2. I found mine at Ross or TJ Maxx. They're stretchy and so comfy. I like getting "trendy" clothes there because they don't cost too much so who cares if they're not in style for long or if you decide never to wear them again because your aunts make fun of you.

      Girl, I want to recreate your whole LOOk!!!!

  2. Sizes on pants don't bother me anymore either because they are so all-over-the-place. I'd rather size up and like the way I look than size down and be uncomfortable. The older I get the more I prioritize comfort in so many aspects of my life haha!

    I do wish pants sizes and dress sizes were standardized though because I would love to do more online shopping. Even though most places offer free 2-way shipping now I hardly ever buy clothes online because I hate the hassle of having to go to the post office to return things!