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Can We Stop Talking Clothing Size Already?

Credit: picto:graphic

Credit: picto:graphic

We’ve long preached that health, fitness and happiness shouldn’t be determined by the number on the scale. In fact, it’s kind of the FBG philosophy to step on that scale no more than once a week, using it as a gauge for where you are but not enough for fluctuations to ruin your day. My weight can easily fluctuate 5 pounds from one day to the next anyway, so I always pay more attention to if my pants are feeling tight and how I feel in general before I get concerned about the number. I’ve found that my body likes to be around a certain weight (plus or minus that five!), and I just start to feel it when I need to start cutting back on sugar and upping the veggie intake.

Because it’s so ingrained in me to go by how I feel rather than the number on the scale or my pant size, it drives me absolutely bonkers when people talk about their exact numbers—weight, size, waist measurement, etc. It bothered me back when Jennifer Love Hewitt insisted she was a size 2. It bothered me when Kim Kardashian felt the need to prove her jean size. And it bothered me when I came across an article recently about Mindy Kaling’s new book. I haven’t read it, but she apparently embraces the fact that she’s not the stick-skinny Hollywood type. Which is great! But then she confides that she’s a “chubby” size 8, which might make others, like this writer, feel chubby, too, as that’s their size. As I said, I haven’t read the book. Maybe her goal was to make average size women feel more confident. But I wonder if it was truly necessary to get into size specifics at all?

Why should clothing size mean anything anyway? Would you compare your hat size to your friends’? Would you brag about a smaller shoe size? It’s really no different! Depending on the brand and the store, most people can fit a range of sizes anyway—I know I do. People carry weight so differently. Some people have bigger boobs, others carry more in their butts, still others are just bigger boned. So much of a “dress size” depends on height, bone structure and proportion that we shouldn’t even be comparing ourselves. Along the same lines, one person’s happy weight or happy size could be where someone else draws the line. And that’s because every body is different. And that’s okay. Fabulous even!

Comparing humans is like comparing apples and oranges. Or apples and bananas. Or watermelons and pineapples. We’re all wonderful and delicious and come in all shapes and sizes! Does talk of clothing size drive you crazy, too? —Erin 


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  1. Caitlin says:

    I hate the focus on clothing sizes for many reasons, but maybe the most irritating one is the fact that clothing sizes are ultimately meaningless. When I shop at one retailer, I wear a size six. When I shop at another one, I wear a size twelve. Well then, what am I? (Besides “chubby” – thanks, Mindy Kaling.)

  2. D says:

    ♥ this…thanks for the reminder

  3. Stephanie says:

    Caitlin nailed it – clothing sizes don’t mean a thing. Target thinks I’m a 6-8, but that suit jacket I have that’s a size 10 is tight in my shoulders. Whatever.

  4. Definitely agree! I linked to this post on my blog post today on beauty because I think it’s a necessary reminder for every woman. http://beembraced.blogspot.com/2012/01/unveiling-beauty.html

  5. Crissy says:

    THANK YOU!! I love this. After I buy clothes, I often cut the size out of them. Maybe that seems drastic, but I get so tired of the emphasis on size!

  6. TS says:

    Yea, just like everyone said, with vanity sizing and store/brand variability, I really have no idea what size means anymore (annoying, since I have to grab 3 different sizes when I try clothes on). I have no idea what it means when anyone says they’re a certain size, so I just stopped paying attention. If you look at http://www.mybodygallery.com, it has lots of user submitted photos, showing photos based on height/weight. If you look at that, you’ll see such a variety of sizes, fat content, muscle content, and weight. It all makes body comparisons, whether you’re comparing size or weight for your height, null and void.

    Even body comparison against yourself is also not ideal. Just eat healthy, exercise daily, and be happy with how genetics/healthy living made your body.

  7. lori gonzalez says:

    Amen! My size is whatever fits me and that’s that!

  8. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the great post, Erin. Good to see that everyone’s on the same page about this numbers business.

    I’ve always thought that the clothing size issue was totally ridiculous, in the sense that it shouldn’t matter what that little tag on the back of your pants says. What is a “00” anyway? Personally, if I were a celeb, I’d find it interesting to declare myself as a size 16–however you measure it–and just own it. It’s incredible how some people can define themselves based on this little number. Companies definitely take advantage of this by shifting what was once a size 8 down to a size 4. Psychologically, I suppose it can make us feel better since 4 is less than 8, but for me, it always comes back to the visual. If you’re wanting to get fit, however you define that, it’s usually about looking a certain way as opposed to having a closet full of XXS labels.

    I’m also inclined to agree with what was mentioned about the numbers on the scale as well. I do, however, own a scale, but as Erin said, I like to use it more as an indication of where I’m at in general, rather than fussing over the numbers. I, too, use the “pants test” when figuring out how much I’ve “gained” or lost. Personally, where aesthetics are concerned, what matters is what I see in the mirror as opposed to the numbers on the scale. I like seeing how my arms are getting toned or how shapely my butt has become. This, I realize, may not be reflected on the scale, so I’ve generally come to save the numbers for an “out of curiosity” situation.

    I’m just curious, how often do you ladies weigh yourselves? No judgment–I feel that the question of the scale also relates to the numbers on our clothing.

    Anyway, great to read all the supportive comments. 🙂 Keep it up, ladies!



  9. Tori says:

    Don’t need to be driven crazy since I’m already there, but yes, talk of clothing size does frustrate me. Partly because it’s so inconsistent, as others have already mentioned. Not only am I a different size based on brand and size, but different parts of my body routinely wear different sizes. (For example, if I’m purchasing, say, a coordinating top and pants, I will consistently need 1-2 sizes larger in the pants than I do in the top.) So I’m never a single size but always more like a range of sizes.

    Additionally, a lot of the size talk I hear and read seems to be normed on a much smaller range of sizes than I am. So in some sense, it’s really jarring to learn that anyone considers a size 8 “chubby” because that starts to mess with my perception of my own size. Logically, I can deconstruct that and remember that body size is multi-faceted: height, bone structure, body composition, etc. — so a size 8 (to keep with the example only) on someone 6 inches shorter (or taller!) than I am or with a wider or narrower bone structure than I have is necessarily going to be different than how it might have looked on me. Emotionally, though, there’s still a lot of cultural judgment attached to body sizes — and even when I can reason it out to myself, it doesn’t mean that I don’t internalize things emotionally.

    Lee, to answer your question, I think I weigh myself anywhere from twice a month to once every 2 months. That’s often enough that I’d notice significant weight change (which, for me, is something I’d want to bring to a doctor’s attention) but infrequently enough that it doesn’t become a part of my routine (which, for me, has the very real potential to lead to an obsessive behavior).

  10. Ashley says:

    It drives me crazy too! One because it’s a daily battle for me to shut my brain off, to not worry about my various numbers, to be thrilled with where my once overweight body has managed to come to a very fit and athletic one. And two because many women only state their size to make others feel bad, or themselves feel better. What does it benefit those around you to announce, “I’m a size 2 ya know”? It doesn’t, but it does benefit everyone to say “Wanna join me for a run tomorrow morning?”

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