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Size is Relative


Something fishy is afoot with clothing sizes. I mean, there has always been some inconsistency from brand to brand, store to store and style to style. However, here's what I have noticed:

When I was an eating-disordered teenager, I recall weighing in at a trim 107 pounds, which is pretty thin for my build. I mean, I was straight up fainting some days. By then, I had almost (if not already) reached my adult height of 5'2", give or take an inch. Anyway, despite being skinny enough to be told I was looking unhealthy (and actually being unhealthy), I recall shopping at Bootlegger and Ricki's -the "cool" stores - and still needing a size 8/10, or a 28" jean (which was considered size 10 at the time). I honestly don't think I wore anything smaller than a 6. Keep in mind that as an adolescent who had just shed her baby weight (and then some), I didn't have a lot of muscle tone. I was just skin and bones, but I consistently fit sizes 6-10. I was a solid Medium. I remember thinking, "Gee! I'm the same size as the Sweet Valley Twins." LOL.

Fast forward to my late twenties, when I was a workout fiend who downed protein bars and shakes on the regular. My weight was closer to 135 at this point, but I was wearing size 4-6, according to United Colors of Benetton and Gap. I was 20 pounds heavier than I was a decade and a half earlier, but I was fitting a size *smaller* than I had worn previously. Sure, I had a bit more muscle and my body composition was likely very different than it was when I was younger, but the general rule is a size for every 10 pounds. I should have been wearing at least a size 8 if my previous sizing was any indication.

My current weight is much higher than my lean mean muscle days a decade ago. Despite my 40 pound loss (and counting!), I have a significant ways to go before I'm at my goal, which is somewhere near my previous workout weight. That said, I'm currently wearing a size medium dress. I have medium leggings in my drawer. I'm shopping for 10's and yet I am ridiculously far from 107 pounds.

So what gives, clothing industry?! How is it that my currently fat arse can fit into the upper range of clothing that my skinny teenage butt wore at 107 pounds?! I'm pretty sure it's not just where I shopped, or an indication of the differences in sizing from brand to brand. In fact, just a couple of years ago the Washington Post published a piece on vanity sizing. Slate also ran an article in 2012 on this arbitrary, inconsistent sizing system. Even the Economist has weighed in on size inflation. It's not just me, folks.

Which is why, in my humble opinion, it's bogus to focus just on sizes when you're wanting to lose weight. It's also bogus to focus exclusively on the numbers on the scale. I roll my eyes when I read these feel-good posts about how we should celebrate being size 14's because Marilyn Monroe was a size 14; in today's clothing she would be a 6. Celebrate your bodies for a million different reasons, but not because you're comparing yourself with anything or anyone from the past, because the reality is that the "standards" of sizing are a total farce.

Anyway, end rant. I'll be here celebrating my weight loss, but I won't be getting too excited about being a 2017 size 10.

Have you noticed the sliding scale of clothing sizes? How do you measure your health? 



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