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.

Three months ago, I started “Body Image Rehab” with the objective of healing my body image over the course of one year while also helping others to do the same. So far, I’ve made twelve posts on a variety of topics, from scale phobia to plus-size models to body confidence.

Today, I’d like to take a step back to discuss the concept of body image in general and how it may be measured. Included are links to helpful online resources, including some body image assessments.

Once we have a baseline measurement of our current body image, it will be easier to check back later in the year to see how we’re progressing. Future posts will focus on concepts and exercises for improving the way we view and experience our bodies.

I recently read an article in People Magazine about plus-sized model Crystal Renn. The article mostly focused on a recent retouching scandal in which Crystal had been made to look shockingly thin by a photographer in a fashion spread. While unrealistic retouching of photos is definitely a valid issue worthy of discussion, what I want to focus on in this post is the definition of “plus-sized” and how outrageous it has become.

Crystal Renn is 5’9,” weighs 150 pounds, and wears a size 10, yet she is considered one of the most successful plus-sized models in the industry. The mind boggles that size 10 is now regarded as plus-sized. If you look at the photo of Crystal in her swimsuit in the People article, you’ll see a slim and fit looking woman who does not appear to be overweight or even particularly voluptuous.