As a kid, I remembering hearing all the time that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12/14/16. Point being, the sexpot of the 1950s was a "real" woman with curves. But the reality is, what was a size 14 in 1955 is probably closer to a size 6 today.
A recent NY Times article, reposted on MSNBC, discusses the difficulties women face in trying to figure out what clothing sizes will fit them in stores. It's an issue that all women (and even men) find all too familiar -- at one retailer, a woman might be a size 4, and at another, she might be a size 10. Even more frustrating: being different sizes at the same store.
While companies are trying to streamline the clothing size dilemma, part of the problem is "vanity sizes." Stephanie Clifford writes, "As the American population has grown more diverse, sizes have become even less reliable. Over the years, many brands have changed measurements so that a woman who previously wore a 12 can now wear a 10 or an 8..." So, vanity sizing has been a huge marketing ploy to get women to buy clothing by making them appear "smaller" without losing an inch. Essentially, it enables women feel better about themselves because they can wear a smaller size. A huge part of the problem lies in the fact that most people (and I fall victim to it as well), place too much self-worth on clothing size. It's a very ugly, messy self-esteem battle. Much like BMI, an arbitrary number has been given far too much credence and weight (pun intended).
Oh, vanity sizing. For years, I justified weight gain as long as I could still squeeze into my size 6 Ann Taylor pants. Had they been a size 12 or 14, would I have pushed sooner to lose weight? Perhaps. I don't really know. But clearly, fitting into size 6 clothing didn't mean I was at a healthy weight or leading a healthy lifestyle, but it enabled me to hide behind the label. Even though I was overweight, I could justifying it by saying, "but I'm a size 6!" And if a size 6 was ever too snug, I just didn't buy the garment.
But I've lost weight and body fat, and while I've been excited to buy smaller clothing sizes, my elation has worn off quickly. It feels too arbitrary and artificial, and honestly, I have no idea what "size" I am. What I do know is that I have a lot of muscle, strength, and I'm healthier than I've ever been. At the same time, it's hard not to feel connection to the number on the clothing tag. But I'm determined to just buy clothes that fit my body, regardless of what a random number tells me.
Thoughts on vanity sizing? Brilliant marketing ploy or a pain in the butt? Self-esteem boost or self-esteem bust?