Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

Are you obsessed with the sizes of your clothing? Do you refuse to buy an item if it is a larger size than you normally wear? A recent article on the Weight Watchers website (posted by a fellow member of the “Let’s Fashion Talk” forum) describes this phenomenon. Many women have a specific size in mind when shopping for clothing, and they are extremely hesitant to buy anything larger than that “magic” size.

Some highlights of the article include:

* There is no standard sizing convention among women’s clothing manufacturers. Often, the more high-end the designer, the smaller the size. Even within a single brand, there are disparities.
* “Vanity sizing,” in which measurements run larger than standard, is used by the majority of manufacturers today. One exception is the dress-pattern market, in which the measurements for the McCall’s size 8 correspond to the current 0 or 00 on the Banana Republic website!
* Vanity sizing is driven entirely by marketing psychology. Women like to fit into a smaller size and single digits sound better than double digits.
* The average American woman is 5’4.5” and wears a size 12 top and a size 14 bottom.
* The dream size for most women on the Weight Watchers plan hovers between an 8 and a 10.

Are you stuck in an image rut? Is there some aspect of your appearance that you would never consider changing? Do you think there is one thing about your looks which makes you special?

I recently watched an episode of the modeling competition show, “She’s Got the Look,” which brought the above questions to the forefront of my mind. For those who aren’t familiar with this show, it’s similar to “America’s Next Top Model,” but geared toward women ages 35 and older. The winner of the show is awarded a spread in Self Magazine and a contract with Wilhemina Models.

On the second episode of this season’s show, the contestants were all given makeovers at a top hair salon. One of the models, Jocelyn, refused to have her long hair cut in the manner that was suggested. After some provocation, she agreed to have a few inches cut off and some layers added to her hair. Her naturally curly hair was styled straight after the cut, as was done with the other curly-haired contestants.

Not only was Jocelyn extremely reluctant to alter her look, she was highly dissatisfied with the results of her makeover. Although what I saw was a beautiful woman with either curly or straight hair, Jocelyn regarded her “after” look as unattractive. While looking into the mirror, she tearfully declared, “I used to feel beautiful and now I just don’t.”

Last weekend, my husband and I went on an overnight trip to Catalina Island. This place holds special meaning for us, as it’s where we were married almost 9 years ago. The island is just a short trip from where we live in San Diego, yet it feels like a world away. We generally try to visit Catalina at least a few times per year, sometimes on short notice when we feel the need to get away.

We were lucky to be greeted with warm and beautiful weather for our short getaway. This was fortuitous given that June tends to be cool and overcast in the coastal Southern California areas (hence the term “June gloom” which is used by locals). Warm weather inevitably brings out young women in bikinis, working on their tans and strutting their stuff along the beaches.

Needless to say, I am not one of these women in bikinis. While I have worn a bikini a few times in my life, those occasions have been extremely rare and punctuated by intense self-consciousness. Nowadays, it is a major breakthrough for me to even wear a bathing suit at all. The usual occurrence is about once or twice a year and I haven’t purchased a new swimsuit in close to ten years. I generally try to avoid occasions which call for swimsuits like the plague, although I once was a competitive swimmer and someone who loved being in the water.