Does Size REALLY Matter?

Why you shouldn’t get hung up on sizing in the women’s fashion industry

In The Devil Wears Prada, many of us may remember the scene where Anne Hathaway is dubbed the “smart, fat girl” after announcing her size 6 figure to the ever glamorous Meryl Streep.

It’s easy to get hung up on a number on your tag rather than your overall health and fitness. What many of us fail to realize is that not only are sizes unrepresentative of health, but they are also completely subjective. They not only change from brand to brand but often vary within brands between different articles of clothing. I recently watched a video by Carrie Dayton “Trying on Sizes People Say I am”, she found many people claimed she was a size 4 or 6 based off her videos while she actually wore size 10 and 12. After watching her video, I was inspired to see what size people think I am by judging off a photo.

I polled Instagram and asked people to guess my jean size based off 3 unedited photos.

I gave a range of sizes from 4-14 US, excluding sizes I thought it would be unrealistic based off the photos for people to guess (0, 20 etc.)

Here were my results:

4: 34%

6: 17%

8: 28%

10: 2%

12: 17%

14: 0%

Since Instagram doesn’t give an option for more than two poll options I calculated the percentages based on the number of people total who responded and the number of votes for each size. I was surprised to see that the highest votes were for a size 4 and size 8- neither of which are my ‘typical’ size. I usually wear a size 10 jean which got the lowest percentage of votes other than size 14. At an average size 10 I have a normal BMI and a normal weight for my frame, however I was also a size 10 in middle school and was 5 inches shorter and medically classified as overweight. As I went through high school, I got healthier and fitter, but my typical jean size and weight stayed the same. I was overweight at a size 10 and am now healthy, still at a size 10- same size, different height and frame.

One size does not fit all?

However, in the photo above I’m wearing a size 27 short from Altar’d State which translates to a 6 or 8 jean size, but I define myself as a size 10, so what does that mean? In my closet I have sizes ranging from a 5-14 in jeans and in tops from an XS to a 2x. In some stores I can’t fit even their largest size and in others I reach for the smaller sizes. Chances are most women experience the same thing. Brands develop their sizing system to fit who they believe their core customer is. This means if you shop at Hollister as an adult woman likely, you will have to size way up since their target demographic is junior high and high school students. Some brands even use vanity sizing, which means they label larger sizes with smaller numbers. For instance, jeans labeled as a size 4 may actually fit like a size 6, because people are more likely to buy clothing that makes they feel good about themselves.

Sizes have changes dramatically over time as well, a study by the Washington Post demonstrates how a size 8 today is actually the equivalent of what was a size 16 in 1958. In 1958 a size 8 woman averaged a weight of 98 pounds and a 23.5-inch waist. Brands were attempting to standardize sizing but found that, not surprisingly, women’s bodies could not be standardized. Retailers began defining their own sizes and soon began lowering sizes to cater to consumer vanity, hoping to increase sales.

So, does size even matter? Most likely people have no idea what size jeans or dress you wear. Based on the short poll I did only 2% of people guessed my typical jean size correctly out of only 6 sizes. Not only do people likely not know what size you wear, there is no reason to be ashamed of clothing size. Size is not typically a good indicator of health and fitness especially in the mid-sized ranges like 6-12. A 5-foot 3 person wearing a size 10 jean would look much different than a 5-foot 11 person wearing the same size. The next time you need to size up in a store don’t beat yourself up, chances are the next store over you could be an entirely different size.

Don’t be afraid to shout your size loud and proud. forget the number on your jeans, what’s the most important is your health and


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