So what's up? Are women getting larger? Are sizes getting larger?
Yes. And yes. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), average adult Americans are about one inch taller, but a nearly whopping 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960. Plus, the average BMI (body mass index, a weight-for-height formula used to measure obesity) has increased among adults from approximately 25 in 1960 to 28 in 2002.
Maybe that's why vanity sizing has become such an issue. "According to standard size measurements, that average 155 pound woman should be wearing a size 16, but thanks to vanity-sizing she's probably buying a size 10 or 12," Jim Lovejoy, the industry director for the SizeUSA survey, told Newsweek. "Most companies aren't using the standard ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] sizes any more. Sizes have been creeping up a half inch at a time so that women can fit into smaller sizes and feel good about it."
I have to admit, being able to fit into a size 0 makes me feel pretty confident, and even more so when I fit into a 00. But in the end, it's about what fits. You'll feel your best, regardless of what size you're wearing, when your clothing fits you properly. Sometimes I wear a 00 and other times a 4 fits better. That doesn't mean my weight has significantly fluctuated. Different clothing items fit differently.
Before I sound too proud of my "nothing" size, you should know that about two decades ago, I would have been at least a size 8. Think I'm exaggerating? A few years ago, my mother gave me a pleated, striped Ann Taylor skirt she'd worn before she got pregnant with me. It sat in her closet for years until I grew into it. The skirt is a size 8. With current sizing, that skirt would be a little too small for my mother, but, thanks to vanity sizing, it fits my size just right.
With all the wrong mentality surrounding clothing sizes in our culture, it's no wonder J.Crew has been taking heat since it announced its plan to create smaller-sized clothing. "There are so many zeros and you're making women who can't fit into anything below a 2 feel insecure." But what if clothing companies shifted the sizes back up to what they're supposed to be? Don't you think women would feel even more insecure? What about the slender girls who fit into those XXXS and 000 sizes and are insecure about their thinness? Isn't that just as bad?
It's not just the average-sized (whatever that means) and heavier women who feel insecure. It's the slender girls, too. My below-average-size younger sister has perfect curves and an athletic build, leading everyone to believe that she is actually the older one. She looks like a woman, and a beautiful and healthy one, at that. I, on the other hand, look like a nine-year-old boy in a swimsuit--no breasts, no hips, and muscles and bones sticking out in all the wrong places. So I find it offensive when people get mad about mannequins with their ribs showing, or clothing companies producing smaller sizes. Women come in all shapes and sizes, but few are represented, on both ends of the spectrum.
|My younger sister and me in Puerto Rico|
Ultimately, it's about the fit. No one (not even yourself) is going to applaud you for squeezing into a size 6 when your breasts are popping out. You will, however, be noticed for all the right reasons when you go up a size and your clothing fits properly. The size is there as a guideline, but it is not law.
Stay healthy, beautiful, and confident!