I remember the moment I had to start buying a size 12 jean and feeling like my entire life was over. What happens if I get any bigger? How will I ever move on from my beloved Topshop Joni Jeans that only go to a size 32? I’ll have to buy plus-sizes at Forever 21!
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So now, as a confident size 16 (I can go 14 some days and 18 on others because sizing is weird!), I look back at that girl and wonder, why was she so upset to be a size that is worn confidently by so many women? Ashley Graham wears a 31/32 waist jean, and she’s not over here wondering how her life will go on. She’s just rocking it.
I wonder what it was that led me to believe that once you hit size 12, you’re just repulsive and can never wear cute clothes again. Welp. Looking through the new “extended sizing” at Express finally started explaining it to me. I was beyond excited when Express released they’d be extending their sizes in-store and online to a size 18. I figured, okay, this is a start! However, I was quickly steered away when I visited their site to find that yes, they carry a size 18 in their bottoms, but their highest size available in tops is an XL. In what world does an XL fit a size 18? (Yeah, okay, maybe if it’s REALLY stretchy, but I’d be concerned for my XS ladies out there if the clothes are that large!)
In the modeling world, a size 8 and up is considered plus-size. Yes, I, too, am wondering, how in the world?! I have never found a plus size retailer that sells a size 8, merely because a size 8 in most people’s standards is a straight size and can be found almost anywhere that you could also find a size 2 or 4. This is the same industry that promotes clothes for women a size 14/16 and up by using models who fit more of a size 10/12. I’ve said it many times before, those women are gorgeous, but can’t we start using models who actually kind of look like us?
In the modeling world, a size 8 and up is considered plus-size. Yes, I, too, am wondering, how in the world?!
Then, I started looking into the fashion industry a little bit more. Forever 21 considers a size 12 plus size in their range, along with Missguided and Boohoo. ASOS’s plus sizes begin at a size 12, however, their straight sizes end at a 14. I understand the sentiment (and appreciate some size diversity!), but why not just make all the pieces to fit everyone? When we tell women that a size 12 is plus size, we slowly but surely make it known that it’s not small enough anymore to be with the straight sizes. Yes, it’s seemingly insignificant to others, but all these small things added up to me being ashamed of an arbitrary number such as the size of jeans I wear.
When we tell women that a size 12 is plus size, we slowly but surely make it known that it’s not small enough anymore to be with the straight sizes.
67% of women are a size 14 and up in America, so why do we consistently feel the need to minimize them?
All of these reasons finally made me realize why I was so upset to be a size 12. Because even in straight sizes, we’ve found ways of systemically shaming women who wear sizes we deem as “large.” Whether it’s the largest option available in a straight size store or the smallest option in plus sizes, women are told that it’s not small enough to be straight sizes and not large enough to be in plus sizes. All of this just reiterates how stressful it is to shop for clothing because we’re so stressed out about which she should be wearing and how much it all matters in our heads.
It’s been stated time and time again that we put too much emphasis on the sizes we wear, but what we fail to recognize is just how much the way our clothes are sized and presented to us affect how we view ourselves.
I’d like to say, “and then, I stopped worrying about what size clothes I wear, and I fell in love with my body exactly how it is!” Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what’s happened, and that’s okay. It’s about being able to look at how the fashion industry portrays sizing and plus size women and understanding that they might not always be right. Speaking up on how these things bother us, too, gives us a voice and an avenue to hopefully see a change in the future.