Actually I can’t and I haven’t for years. But it’s a phrase I hear regularly. I never cease to be amazed at women’s determination to be a certain clothing size. We perceive it to be a validation of sorts. Size, whether we are fat or not, equals social acceptability or measuring up to whatever the media is portraying as being “normal”
Our diet is potentially the biggest factor (and I don’t mean going on a diet ladies!). Our food chain is very sophisticated today, most of what we eat is highly processed. Combine this with what is for most people a fairly sedentary lifestyle and of course our bodies are going to adapt to our food and activity environments.
Then you have the medical community telling us all about obesity and how fat people and heavy people are detrimental to health services. This may or may not be true but I have no doubt that we face discrimination in the health service, larger people are seen as undeserving, that we’ve created our own physical state and it’s our fault.
Maybe we have, but maybe we are also victims of the progression of modern society towards an easier and less effort required existence. Food in our western society is very plentiful (its shameful how much we waste) and in the grand scheme of things it’s quite cheap. On one hand the big food conglomerates entice us relentlessly through all forms of advertising with offers of cheap and “tasty” highly processed food. On the other hand society judges us and punishes us for being overweight.
So we berate ourselves, we then measure our progress against the clothes we try and fit into. “I can get myself into a size 12” is a phrase I often hear and I think why is it so important? If it really is that important to you to fit into a size 12 then change your activities so that you burn more calories than you consume. Eat less and eat better foods, balance your diet and remove as much processed food as you can from your diet. When you then fit into a size 12 properly (i.e. there is room for you and some air in the garment!) then you can adjust your diet again to maintain your weight. It doesn’t mean you abandon your healthy approach, you just adjust the diet balance and keep going with regular exercise. But no one says this is easy, in our comfortable world of plenty this is difficult and requires determination, patience and commitment to work at it for months.
Here’s the real kicker, clothes sizing is a psychological game played by the media and the fashion industry. There are no standards that the industry strictly adheres to. There is a loose standard that designers cope with up to about a notional size 22. After a size 22 designers struggle as they have fewer references and styles to work from. A size 12 on one design label can easily be a size 8 in another. At trade shows I’ve had designers tell me a XXXL in their range is a size 16!
The MOST important thing about clothes sizing is to choose garments that FIT well, wearing clothes that are too tight just makes you look BIGGER! Choosing your clothing size is NOT about choosing the number. Wearing clothes that fit, aren’t skin tight and that allow some movement of your body inside the garment will actually make you look slimmer. Shape and use of colour are also important and you should try to find clothing that will flatter your shape, take account of garment cut, pattern and colour.
Don’t despair, don’t hide your figure, use it and dress to highlight your good features, drawing the eye away from the features you are less happy with. Personal presentation can be hugely improved by doing two things.
Remember size is just a number and the world of fashion it’s a vague number. How do I know this? Because I buy clothing brands for Vida Moda and we adjust the sizing to present a consistent choice across the labels we stock so you have a chance of choosing items from different collections and trust that they will fit. Because I pay attention to this we get very few returns on the basis of a poor fit.
So the next time you are shopping and looking for something to wear remember you that you’ll be wearing clothes and not a number!
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