It started with two pair of pants from the thrift store
Hey mom, thanks.
My mom (a self-professed thrift store addict) hands me two pairs of well-known brand pants that she found during her retail therapy session (thanks mom!) for $3.00 each. She knows my size now. For the last few years she would caringly buy me a higher size up (my usual size for years) but that size just stopped fitting. I thought, “maybe I lost some weight?” but I didn’t think so and I didn’t think too much of it. It certainly didn’t bother me to have lost (what I thought) was a clothes size.
I pick up the pants my mom handed me and hold them up to my eyes. They look way too big for me. I check the label-no, they are the right size (the new ‘smaller size’) and what great finds these pants are: good quality and high label brands.
Hey mom, thanks.
Let me try them on. Oh, shoot! Both of these pants are like way huge. Even putting on a belt wouldn’t do anything to make them fit.
I am upset. Are these pants missmarked?
I look again at the label. No, the same ‘smaller’ size for both.
Now I am dumbfounded. That is until I heard about ‘Vanity Sizing.’
What is Vanity Sizing?
Have you been a victim of this trick? Vanity sizing is an increasingly popular technique that clothing manufacturers use on both male and female consumers: making clothes bigger, yet marking the product as the same size as before. While this illusion that we can now fit into the same size clothes as prior (or smaller) is a good boost to our self-esteem, it doesn’t help but mask the real issue: most Americans are getting bigger and these clothing sizes are just not real.
The French women also use the magic pants that used to fit
I used to have the pants. You might have a pair too from high school or college. They were the pants. The ones that if you knew you gained weight and you couldn’t fit into them, then you had to cut back on what you were eating or boost up on the exercise until you felt good in those pants again.
The French women still use the magic pants. They are strict with staying within a certain weight. Most women will control their eating with smaller portions until they fit back into their magic pants again. Vanity sizing is done a lot less in France, in fact a well known French clothing store refuses to adapt this habit. See article: Zara Sizes Considered Too Small For Americans.
How vanity sizing hinders the progress on helping America’s health crisis
Vanity sizing doesn’t help the health crisis in America. It hinders the progress of what is normal weight in America. How can we blame people who think they are not overweight if they have stayed relatively the same size clothing over time? It masks the ability to keep our weight ‘in check’ like in other cultures because we are buying and wearing what we think are the same size clothes. And for some people, moving down clothing sizes makes one assume they have lost weight, when they are probably about the same weight as years earlier.
“As a public health professional, I have another problem with vanity sizing: It tricks us into leading less-healthy lives. When people fit into smaller-sized clothes, they may think of themselves as thinner than they really are. And people who think this way are less likely to be physically active or eat well, according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health study.”
She also adds an excellent point.
“In a society full of size discrimination, where girls feel pressured to start dieting before they have their first period, it’s no wonder that vanity sizing works as a sales tool.
That is why I label this article “Why the new thin is the old normal”
I won’t tell you my American clothing size. I will just tell you that it is unrealistic and wrong. Wrong also because although I am very comfortable with my body and weight, I can imagine that there are young women who want to reach this magic size that they feel perfect in, a low size, a zero or double zero. When really clothing sizes are distorted and are not uniform.
The new thin is just the old normal. I should know: I am the old normal.
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