I went shopping the other day and tried on two pairs of jeans. They were both the same size, same cut, same style, just slightly different colours. Essentially they were identical, but one pair were loose and the other wouldn’t go over my thighs. I wondered if I had picked another size up by mistake, but I hadn’t – two pairs of jeans, the exact same cut and size, were completely different.
I thought back to the shopping trips of my past, how I could drop two dress sizes in one shop and then gain another in the next. I remembered all the times I had walked out of a changing room feeling downcast that a dress hadn’t fit me right, only for another dress in a smaller size in the next shop to fit me perfectly. I thought back to times where shop assistants would say things like ‘a Topshop size 8 isn’t a New Look size 8’. I remembered obsessing over the numerical label in my clothes, berating myself if it went up and feeling proud if it went down.
In reality, my size was the same whether my top was a size 6 or a size 10. It wasn’t my body that suddenly changed size from shop to shop, but the cut of the material, the template the companies used, the fact that there is no such thing as a size 8 but a fluctuation of sizes roughly around the same measurement. In my wardrobe I have size 6 clothes that fit and size 10 clothes that fit. Sometimes the size 6 is from the same brand as the size 10, yet they both still fit me fine. I know I am not alone in that fact… so why do we berate ourselves when we have to go up a size?
The reality is that the number inside your clothes means nothing. We know that, deep down. We know that when we go into a shop and struggle to fasten the button on those size 12 jeans that it doesn’t mean we aren’t a size 12 – the pants we wore into the shop were a bloody 12! But we still feel the guilt, the burn, the outraged ‘what the hell?!’ when we have to change size. We know that there is no such thing as a size 12, as a size 24, as a size 6, yet we cling to the idea of these numbers representing us as if they are a measure of our worth.
“She’s a size 10 now,” I’d hear people say, their voices twinged with envy as if being a size 10 meant everything in life was okay.
The value we place on these numbers and on ourselves fitting into these numbers is all wrong and it is damaging to everyone involved. In the past I use to place so much importance on my size, almost as if it tied to my worth. The first time I had to go up a size I was mortified, staring at the zipper that wouldn’t fasten in disbelief. I remember a time I bought a size 4 jumper that I didn’t particularly like just because it was a size 4 and I had never fit into one before. Did the size of it matter? No. Would anyone else ever know, or care, that it was a size 4 jumper? No, of course not. So why did I care that I could fit into it?
I shouldn’t have. We shouldn’t care as much as we do. We shouldn’t care what numerical value is on that itchy bit of fabric at the back of our neck. We put far, far too much focus on that number instead of asking ourselves does it look nice? Does it suit me? Do I feel good?
What does the number matter anyway? The number proves nothing. Smaller doesn’t mean better or more beautiful. I have seen plus size people wearing outfits way better than any skinny person I have seen in the same thing. I have seen pear shaped people pulling off looks more than any ‘perfect’ hour glass figure. The size means nothing – it’s how you wear it, how it makes you feel, how you work it.
If we can say that we are more than the number on the scale, then we definitely should be able to say that we are more than the number on our clothing label because we are more than a label and a number. We’re the person rocking that outfit, whatever the size says. From now on I think we should all make a conscious effort not to get caught up in the numbers, but to get caught up in the moment where we say to ourselves ‘I look goooooooood’.