Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

While sizing is inaccurate, people of every size deserve clothes that fit

Courtesy of the J. Crew facebook page)

In the summer of 2014, J.Crew announced that it would expand its sizing to include XXXS as a size, two sizes smaller than an XS or a zero. The “triple zero” was hounded by media agencies that poked fun at the move, claiming that no one would ever be able to fit into that size unless they were a “healthy eight-year-old.” When J.Crew explained its reasoning, which was that it was expanding its market to Asia and needed smaller sizes for the new market (a business move that many American companies have made recently), websites and news outlets still tore the company apart.

Everyone should be able to wear clothes that fit them. Women of all shapes and sizes should be able to shop for clothes without worrying about if they can fit into them or not. This is a step in the right direction for J.Crew to become more inclusive of women, and should not be treated in the negative way that it has been by the news. I am glad to see retailers trying to be inclusive when it comes to sizing, and it should be happening on both ends of the size spectrum. We should not be alienating any women just because they have sizes that may vary from what we have come to believe is the ‘average’ or ‘normal’ size based on an arbitrary number system.

Historically, there has never been a standard way of labeling clothing sizes. Experts came to the conclusion that the best way would be to measure women based on height and weight, but that is also a problematic and unrealistic way of sizing. They concluded that “even though a measurement can be extrapolated from a size, the actual numbers we use in women’s sizing are not, themselves, measurements.” There are so many different combinations that would need to be created. Because of this, the fashion industry decided to go forward with its own sizes, changing them and molding them to their liking, specifically in regard to manufacturing and selling of their product. I honestly do not know how to go about creating a new way to size clothes, but this alone shows how women’s bodies cannot be streamlined in the way they are now. Some examples of streamlining in an extreme way are companies such as Brandy Melville that only carry one size. American Eagle Outfitters, a staple company for many teens and young adults, has created a line called “Don’t Ask Why.”  The company claims that “Each piece is designed to cover so. many. different! body types to make sure it always looks great. Remember, you are unique. Make it yours.” This one-size-fits-all mentality is extremely problematic, especially if American Eagle is trying to be inclusive of all body types. Every piece is modeled by a standard tall and skinny model, which is definitely not in line with the average body size.

Not only are sizes arbitrary, but do they really mean anything? Several women have made headlines for posting pictures of how they fit into a range of pants from size six up to size 12, showing that sizes mean different things at different stores. Beauty website, The Gloss, is conducting a crowdsourcing experiment to have women try on their sizes at multiple popular stores. I have had similar experiences, even when shopping at the same store. Sometimes, at any given store, my size in tops will fluctuate between two or three sizes. Even within one company, their sizing fluctuates. This shows that the number does not and should not reflect any given body.

On one of my favorite television shows from high school, “One Tree Hill,” Brooke Davis creates her own fashion line entitled “Clothes over bros.” In one episode, Davis proclaims “Zero is not a size.” While I agree that we should not be encouraging women to be a certain size, this size, even though it should not be called “zero,” is a size that many women do wear, myself included.

Our society’s obsession with these capricious sizes drives a wedge between women. The fact that our society labels smaller clothing as numbers that are not even numbers (double zero or triple zero) is something that should not be happening. The way we size has the possibility of leading to eating disorders. Using zero as the measurement is “ludicrous,” according to Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist. The use of the number zero is exclusive, as it indicates that the size is something less than the other possible numbers. We need a whole restructuring of the way we size clothes in order to be able to accept all sizes. There is no standard of sizing that all clothing companies follow.

There are also many women who wear size XL or plus sizes. In fact, according to a Modcloth survey of “over 5,000 American women of mixed sizes,” “50 percent of American women wear a mix of standard and plus-sizes, and 57 percent buy some of their clothes in size 16 or larger.” We hear so much about expanding into smaller sizes, but we don’t really talk about expanding sizes upward. We need to be expanding clothing sizes to fit all women and all body types. Companies need to provide more sizes in stores so that women who wear plus sizes are able to find clothing. Many plus sizes are relegated to online only, making it difficult for a woman to gauge what size to buy because we all know that online shopping runs the risk of buying clothing that will not fit because sizes are arbitrary.

The fact of the matter is that we should not be allowing sizes to dictate any woman’s self worth. A number on a size does not make someone more or less of a person, nor does it make someone healthy or unhealthy. A number does not tell the whole story of a woman. Everybody is beautiful and deserves to have the sizes that fit properly. Being accepting of all body types in the fashion industry is extremely important.

Women come in all shapes and sizes. Women who wear XXXS and women who wear XXL are still women. Even though we should not be labeling women as sizes that suggest some women are smaller than they should be or larger than they should be, we should make clothing accessible to all sizes and shapes. They are still women who struggle with the arbitrary sizing that exists within the women’s clothing industry. Women on both ends of the size spectrum struggle to find clothes. Many women who are an in-between size struggle to find clothes that fit. They should neither be punished nor hated on for wearing a certain size. However, this is not just a women’s issue; men also struggle with clothing size discrimination. But, at the end of the day, who cares what a number means? Just because I wear a size two or four and my friend wears a 10 does not mean we should have different shopping experiences. Clothing should not be alienating anyone and that alienation ends when we change our view on sizing and start catering to women of all shapes and sizes.

Emilia Beuger is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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