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Confession: Size Really Matters To Me

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Do you ever find yourself fixated on the size on clothing labels, even though you know it shouldn't be so important? There are certain stores where I know I can wear smaller sizes than others. Even though the clothes from two different stores might be exactly the same size, I'm more likely to wear the ones with the smaller number on them. Logic tells me it's ridiculous and size shouldn't matter, but for some silly reason, it does.

As more Americans become overweight and obese, retailers know that the size on their clothing matters. That's why many of them have started scaling down the size labels on clothing. This means that even though you are really a size 10, some stores will label your size a 6 to make you feel better. Deceptive? Maybe. Effective? Yes.

Why does the size on a label matter so much? I know I'm not really a size 4. But if I found a pair of size 6 jeans that fit comfortably, I'd probably end up buying them even if I didn't really like them. The fact that the number on a label is somehow tied to my self-esteem is frustrating to me. For some reason, I think it makes me feel more "normal" to wear an average size. I should be better than that. What's really important is that I'm healthy and fit, right? Who cares if I wear a size 4 or a size 14? But the truth is, I do care.

Some studies suggest that as American's waistlines have expanded, so has the perception of a "normal" size. Over the past 10 to 15 years, the average American's BMI has increased, while the number of people who would consider themselves to be overweight has decreased. Is this the result of publicity campaigns promoting self-acceptance (such as Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty)? Maybe, but not likely. More likely it's that as overweight people are surrounded by more overweight people, overweight becomes the new "normal."

Whether it's the size on a clothing label or the size of the people around you, have you ever found it easier to convince yourself that you're a size you're really not? Do you let the size on clothing labels bother you the way I do?

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Good entry Jen. Our society is so hung up on size, wt, body shape, etc. We have to learn to love who we are - love ourselves. If we don't we will never be successful in our journey to a healthier life. If we focus on the world's standards of looking anorexic and not focus on our health we will not live a long, healthy life. We might look real good in the coffin but once the lid closes who cares anymore?!!!!

Seriously, I have always been a "big girl" and I think I have sabatogaed my success in wt loss and health because I dwell too much on what I look like and not what I feel like physically. I am now on a journey to feel better and to live healthier. Yes I want to look nice in my clothes but I will never wear a size 8 or 10. I'm working on getting to a healthy weight, a realistic wt for me and that's my story.

So ladies (and gents) focus on behavior and improve your health and the payoff will not only be one of health but you can also have a sexier looking body (beauty is in the eye of the beholder).

God Bless You all on your journey to health!!!! Report
Oh yeah - size matters to me! I went pants shopping recently and fit into a size 8 and was just sooooo happy! I bought 2 pair instead of the one that I could have gotten away with and at a price that I should have walked away from. The first thing I did after getting out of the store is call my Sister to tell her. lol It was a good day. Report
We all look at the numbers...
Years ago the fancier labels/store had already downsized their size scales to make their shoppers feel better about slipping into a small size.
Now...it seems everyone (companies/stores) are starting to re-number their size scales too. By changing a traditional size 14 to a 6 (whatever)...who are you kidding.
By the tradional standards you are still a size 14 .
When people now say they are fat and had to wear a 14....maybe they are really wearing a size 18, but because of the switching/renumbering, you are now BIG 14. Pleaseeeeee......
They should just leave the sizing alone.
You are what you are and when you can slip into something that is smaller that's all that matters.
Just because you have renamed it to a 4 or 6, a size 12 is a size 12 .
I agree with ORIGAMIFREAK...What is more important is how it looks on you. Report
Yes size does matter. I thought I was the only pperson that felt this way. Its good to know that I'm not alone. Report
I always feel like I'm bigger than I am, size-wise. Maybe my brain is using size-charts from 30 years ago. Or maybe I just have issues. ;) Report

A popular name brand did wonders for my self concept. I could go at least a size smaller or more. However suddening it seemed their scale changed. Then the quality of material wasn't as good. Finally the store in our area stopped carrying it. I still look on ebay for pieces. A tag sure can change the way you feel. Adjust it so you feel good. You are what you feel you are becoming. Report
Well after reading this blog and lots of the comments, I can sure understand why the girls/women who say they wear a size 6 today don't look anything like the ones who did 20+ years ago when I was in college. My sister wore a size 2 in 1979, if she were that thin now she probably couldn't find clothing with a real number on it to wear! Report
I hate how the stores have changed the sizes. I know that i might have started losing weigh a lot sooner if it wasn't for that fact. At my biggest i was a size l0 stretch and once those started getting small i started trying to lose weigh. When i was in my early 20's i wore what they called a size 6 then, that is probable a size 2 or 0 now. I still weigh l5 pound more then i did then and a size 4 dress pants was too big in one store. I now fit into most 6's depending on where i buy them. I think if the stores had left the sizes the way they use to be more people would try to lose weigh. Report
I read that article about weight perception. I found myself angry at the article because I think some people are being delusional about their size.

I know I'm larger than a size 18 yet designers want to patronize me into thinking I'm thinner than I actually am but making the number smaller on the tag? Gown sizes have never changed - it is you actual size, which for me is a 22 (42" waist). Depressing, yes. Motivating, ABSOLUTELY!

If unhealthy and overweight is the "norm", then I want to be weird. Report
I don't really pay attention to sizes. Most of the shorts/pants I buy have two numbers anyway. The shorts I'm wearing right now are 12/14 And that's just what I wear! Report
Size absolutely matters to me. I buy clothes at JCrew, Old Navy and the Gap for that reason. I'm even a 0 and XS at J Crew! Whatever motivates me I guess. It's taken a long time for me to feel good about my size and my clothes so I'll take whatever boost I can get :) Report
I hate, hate, hate vanity sizing. Back in 2002 I was a size 6 (34/26/36 measurements), by most manufacturers that is now a size 4. I was a size "14" two years ago, I was 20 lbs heavier than I was in 1997 when I was also a size 14... I found a couple pairs of those size 14 jeans from 1997 in my closet, and I could not even get them up past my hips. Report
Do I pay attention to sizes? Yes because it can serve as a wake-up call that I'm not paying enough attention to my eating and exercise as I should, especially if I am trying on clothing identical in size and brand to that which I've bought before. But I'm also aware that "vanity sizing" has taken over the US clothing industry.

The US clothing manufacturers used to have "standard sizing" (although this was based on young, healthy, caucasian women). An interesting article about this is here: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/2007

While I realize that not every cut of clothing will fit every individual, I do wish there was some degree of standardization just to make shopping a little more efficient.

And an article on some of the issues of obesity from 1919 (yes, that is 1919).

Yeah I can say I'm a size 4, but really what does that mean? And I can fit into some 2's, but am I really any smaller? And do I feel inadequate when I put on those size 6 jeans that are in my closet? Nope. My waist is still the same size no matter what the tag says. I buy clothes that fit the way I like them to fit. Report
I like the comments about manipulation. Yes, you are so right, it is manipulation and I am guilty of being manipulated.
Size and numbers, the lower the better. What to do about it though? Report
Size does matter to me. My best friend and I talk about how great a shape we were in when we were in the military and it was required. Now as we look back we understand that we allow ourselves to slip from great shape to okay. The more overweight the people who are around us are the smaller we felt. Now I know better and I have stopped fooling myself about my weight. Size does matter and I like being back down to a smaller size. Report
YES, I so agree with you that it is just pathetic how clothes makers have pushed FAT people to be NOT FAT, just to sell them more clothes. When I was in my 20's I was a size 9 and I was 125#. MEN'S clothes are just as bad. Women who are slim have to be a size 0 now and that is no negative. I never heard of a size 0 when I was in high school or college, but there were lots of women who were a 110# and that was normal. Report
While fitting into a smaller size would be nice-I would rather buy the larger size and look good then to squeeze into a tight pair of jeans and look like I was trying hard to live by the numbers. And I do admit the inconsistency of labels is frustrating! Report
Yes. Size does matter... unfortunately. I don't usually buy clothes based on the size, but when I find a size 6 I can fit into, I do a little happy dance. Report
Nope size labeling does not matter to me. A stated, it is only manipulation anyway... I believe we lost control about the time twiggy, the model in the mid 60's became di riguer. Why would women want to "disappear" I have never fathom that!. We have been so badly condition it is scary and as several writers have stated it does indeed contribute to trend in obesity. I am appalled when I hear one onese person compare themselves to someone who weighs more "at least I am not that big". Are we not splitting hairs? I bought a beautiful jacket by mail order once in my size only to discover I could not get my arm let alone the rest of me in it. Even going up 3 dress sizes 26-28 It was snug. I sent it back and complain to the company about their deception in sizing. It was made in China and even with a 26-28 label it really was a 16 in disguise. (I am a true 22) I asked them that they should have some kind of disclaimer so people who want to buy their products know if they are foreign manufacture the sizing would be off. Unfortuanvely there respinse was they wil nov do that as iv would be "too much work" and no one will buy. Well they lost my sale and I suspect they probably had a lot of returns. It was a shame. Report
Size matters to me. Why I don't know. I realized this after trying on 5 different sizes of shorts and none of them fit quite right. I try not to care, but I do. Report
I guess if I found I could fit into a smaller size, it would make me happy, but I don't really worry about it. Within my own wardrobe I have clothes ranging from size 4-12. I don't stress out when I wear the bigger stuff, so long as it still fits right. I think more about how things fit and how comfortable they are than the number on the tag. Report
Size matters because it's the only thing that keeps me from going crazy when I look at the scale.

And Marilyn Monroe was not a size 16 nor a size 14. Her smallest was an 8 and biggest a 10. I've been a size 16 and Marilyn was no 16.


Size does matter but don't let it STRESS you out, because stress will kill you faster.
When you relax the body and stop stressing out over the size the weight will just fall out.
When I had lost weight before I was still stressing out over what size I was until I realized I was making myself sick. So ignore the LABELS.
Take Care All. Report
Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. My mother (who would be 87 if still alive) was very very proud to be a size 16! I have size 14s in my closet from the 1980s which are smaller through the waist than current size 8s or even 6s. But: have to admit that I would be very very unlikely to buy a new garment marked size 14 today unless of course I was sure that it was mislabelled! AND on the "deep discount rank!! Report
I'd love to say that size doesn't matter to me at all, but that wouldn't be quite true. Does it make me vain that I want to be a 6 again, a 4 again, a 2 again? I realize that I might not make it into the pants I wore when I was hip & thin, but I hate that I now own a pair that are sized in the double-digits.

You said it best: Size does matter & retailers know it! Scaling down sizes really works. Report
Size doesn't matter to me because there is no standard anymore so the numbers are meaningless. It just varies too much - I have clothes in 8, 10 and 12 that all fit me right now- it depends on the brands and the styles. Since I am short and curvy, I have learned to take things in and hem to make them fit so a lot of my sizes are altered anyway. Report
I blogged about this a while back - I realized some time ago that manufacturers are scaling down the sizes (women's anyway) just to get us feeling better about ourselves and spend more money on clothes. I have 12s in my closet from the early 90s that are tight but I can buy 10s now off the rack and they fit perfectly.

At the end of the day, I care most about the numbers on the blood work my doctor does. And my body fat/lean body mass. I buy what looks good when I put it on, size doesn't matter much to me like it used to... Report
For most of my life, I made my own clothes, early on because for financial reason, later because I truly loved to sew. I always chose the pattern size to fit my shoulders, and then altered the rest of it to match my body measurements. My clothes always fit me well -- no gaps at the buttons or stretch creases at the hips. People always thought I wore a smaller size than I did. I just laughed when I heard that.

The pattern size that still fits is a 12. Recently, I bought some pants and discovered that the "new 12" is a size 4 when it comes to the clothing manufacturers. That's silly. Report
I don't care what the size is on the label, it's the number on the scale that I go by. Unless the bureau of weights and measures decides to add more onces to a pound that scale AIN'T lying. Report
the "size" that matters is the one on the tape measure, not the one on the clothes. it may sound harsh, but i think that clothing manufacturers to change the clothing label sizes are only adding to America's overall weight problem. Report
I pay attention to size but I do not let it define me. It can be a warning sign that I'm getting unhealthier or a sign of progress. I usually buy the same brand and style of pants when I drop a size so that I know I'm actually dropping a size. I dropped from a 16 to an 8 in the same brand of jeans, then I had to switch brands to a 10, now I'm a size 8 again. It gets very confusing. I just try to gauge my progress by a lot of different factors, not just what I weigh but also how I feel physically and emotionally. Even though I'm not hung up on it, I look forward to the day I can wear a size 6 of my current style. Who wouldn't? Report
By age 45, I was still 6' tall (of course), and weighed 195 pounds. I didn't even bother to check size labels; it was too depressing. I just bought big, loose shirts, and pants and skirts with elastic waistbands.

At age 48, I'm still 6' tall (duh), and I'm now 135 pounds again. So, after my 20-year return to a healthy weight, what sizes do I have to buy to get clothes to fit?

Size 6 - 8. Size small. In fact, in a LOT of places, I have to buy things labeled "XS".

My question is: the folks who were wearing sizes 4, 6, 8, and S/XS twenty years ago... what the heck sizes are they wearing now (assuming they are at roughly the same weight)? What's smaller than extra-small? The places I shop where they have size 0 usually have weird sizing systems that offer things like 00, 0, 1, 2, and 3.

I guess if I had grown up with the sizing system (if you can call it a system, without any real rhyme or reason) like it is now, I wouldn't think much about it. But I didn't, and so it makes me crazy trying to guess what level of psychological appeasement any given clothing store or brand has decided to apply to its merchandise. Report
Size matters to me; not so much the size that says on a label but the size of my own clothes. Each clothing line has their own sizing system so the numbers are not reliable anyway. I use my own clothes as a gauge to my body size. As long as my clothes fit well, I don't have to worry about my body weight. Report
Maybe we should all just cut the labels out! I personally don't care but I never want my husband to see if the label has a larger size number on it. Report
Size really matters to me, too, and I really, *really* wish it didn't, because it's stupid for me to be worrying about something like that. For example, the size 0 American Eagle shorts I'm wearing right now are too big on me, and I would be wearing a size 00 if they'd had them in the store I visited. However, just the notion that they're probably actually a size 2, and that I'm really a size 0 depresses me, because I'd love to *actually* be a size 00--which is totally ridiculous! I know it's just the fashion industry coupled with my own personal insecurities that make me think this way, but even though I know that, I can't help it. Report
I know it gets me every time! I if I can buy a size 6 that fits just try to keep me out of the checkout line. I actually gauge my progress (how sick is this) by the size clothing that I can try on and NOT BUY even though it fits. When I stopped buying 8s just because they were single digits that fit I knew that I had really made progress.
For a while when I was heavy I was really good about buying what fit, so now I actually have a lot of extra large and large clothing that still fits fine, but I would never buy them now... This isn't exactly movement in the right direction I guess.
One thing that really helped me get over vanity sizing is sewing my own clothes. Pattern companies haven't changed their measurements in over 80 years! When I buy vintage patterns from the 40's I wear the same pattern size I would in a "Hilary Duff Original" in the books today. Knowing that clothing size is just a representation of measurements takes the focus off the 2,4,6,8 of ready-to-wear. Report
Unfortunately, I must admit that size does matter to me too. Especially, when its not the size I think I "want." It's half the reason I avoid shopping and is an attitude I know I need to change. Haven't found a quick fix yet! Report
I know it should not matter, but I'd be lying if I said it makes no difference. I went from too small 14 to too big 4, then I stopped smoking and now some of my 8s fit again. I need some way to measure success (or opportunity) so it may be the scale and/or the clothing. Maybe the answer is wear the size 4 or 6 and shoot for the better fit in the same item. Most 8s in Canada are a 6 in USA too. Report
Perhaps wisdom really does come with age. I know there was a time, not that long ago, when the size of my clothing did matter to me. I remember I was out shopping for pants a few years ago. I found a fabulous pair of Harvey Bernand linen pants in a size 8 as well as a size 6. I put them up one on top of the other, they were EXACTLY the same size in spite of what the tag said.

What did I do ? I tried them on and bought the size 6. Why ? Because at the time, I was obsessed with wearing a smaller size. I figured that since I'd lost the weight, I should wear a smaller size. Thin people wear small sizes, don't they ?

Well... I guess I've learned a lot since that shopping trip. I've learned that I have to try on everything.There really is way too much variation in clothing. As I've mentioned in different threads, there is no standardization in women's clothing. Who got to decide what is a size 8 and exactly what are the dimensions for a size 8 ?

Which is my point, because there is no standardization in clothing, a person can't let a size determine their self worth. Size just doesn't matter. Because of the lack of standards, I can't just take a size 6 off the rack. It might or might not fit. I've got clothing in sizes 6, 8 and 10. I also have shirts in small, medium and large. They all fit.

When I was a teen (back in the Dark Ages), there was no size 0 or size 00. The smallest size you could buy was a 2/3 and that was pretty small. I went to school with some pretty skinny kids, but even the skinniest couldn't fit into the 2/3. If they did, it was because they starved themselves.

I think we can all agree that the American waistline is expanding exponentially. I think we can agree that size of clothing also changed in accordance with that growth. However, I do feel that because sizes have changed so drastically over the years, that we really can't let them determine our emotional state.

We "might" feel better if we can put on a size 8 pair of pants. But, what does that really mean ? Does that mean a person is thin ? Not necessarily. Once again, some clothing manufacturers have increased the size of their clothing while decreasing the number. It's all about profit. The manufacturers know that if they drop their numbers, more people will buy their clothing thinking they are wearing a smaller size.

As I said earlier.... in clothes, size doesn't matter. A woman can't go by size. try buying a bra. Same problems. no standardization in cup sizes. Exactly what is an A cup ?

So, what's a woman to do ? She should buy clothing that fits, regardless of whatever the tag says. The size doesn't matter. I say, buy the pants if they fit and when you get them home, cut out the tag.

Women do come in all shapes and sizes. We shouldn't be forced to fit into a certain size of clothing because we think it makes us look thin. A 6ft tall woman who wears a size 8 looks very different from a 5ft tall woman who wears a size 8.

No, a woman should wear what fits and not worry about a number.

yes, size absolutely matters to me. I have a huge problem shopping in stores where the clothes run small (like h&m)--I have come to really dislike shopping because of it. Maybe this won't be a problem when I reach my goal. Report
I don't usually have an issue with the size on the clothing but that being said today a freind who has taken off over 100 pounds gave me some clothes she thought would fit. They are the size I use to wear when I was 70 pounds heavier than I am now. Now my mind is going " DO I LOOK LIKE I WEAR A SIZ# 24?" OH BOY did that make my day . Was a nice thought but really!
pj Report
Not so much anymore. When I was bigger it mattered more. I still have a ton of different sizes in my closet from losing so much. I've gotten rid of most of the ridiculously large sizes, but have some other items I may get tailored. I went from a size 18 to a size 4/6 so you can imagine the range of clothes I've had! It's all just a number obviously, as long as my measurements are the same I don't get caught up on those little things anymore! :) Report
Right now I have clothes in sizes 10, 12 and 14 and they all fit. Honestly I have to say that even if I loved the item, if it was a size 16 I wouldn't buy it. Having started with size 28, in my mind anything above size 14 is not acceptable. I have NO intention of going back to where I was. Report
Although I wish to think clothing size doesn't matter - when the smaller size fits, I buy that one. But only if it looks good. I was quite disappointed recentlywhen I had to go up a size with a shirt I particularly liked that didn't fit right in my normal size. But I still bought it. I've always tended to buy clothes that were a little larger, for comfort (even when I was skinny). Report
It used to matter to me a lot. I even KNEW buying clothing that it was vanity sizing, but I still did it. I once paid $20 too much for a pair of pants just because of the size. As I've grown and become more fit and more comfortable in my own skin, it has stopped mattering to me. I can wear a lot of difference sizes, depending on the store, so I have learned that it really doesn't matter. Report
I think it is deplorable that retailers do this. It's not helping people get healthier, it's messing with people's minds and I don't care for that kind of trickery. Back in high school, I cared about the size and would even take out the tags of my jeans so friends at sleepovers, etc, wouldn't ever know my real size. It was an 11 approximately, but I was too ashamed for any of my size 5 friends to know that at the time.

As I have gotten older, size really doesn't matter to me anymore. The only time it matters to me is when I start gaining weight and *have* to buy a bigger size for that reason. If I am at my current weight, I could care less if what I am buying is a size 10, 12, or 14 - all of which are currently in my closet and all fit me exactly the same. If it fits and it looks good, I don't care.

I agree with those who say it is frustrating to not know what size to be able to buy, such as people buying gifts and buying online. I shouldn't have to go to a dressing room with 3 sizes of the same jeans because you don't know what size in that brand will fit you. Report
Sizes really don't matter to me I guess. England is the only country with standardized sizes between brands.. that means us poor Americans basically have to guess or hope our way to the correct sizes. Some stores intentionally shift their sizing to change the way their customers feel about the clothing. Higher end stores shift their sizes smaller so that their customers feel the clothing is meant for a slimmer and 'classier' person such as themself, and chain stores expand sizes so that customers feel really good about themselves, feel good about the clothing, and buy more. I guess because I know this (from being an apparel major) I'm pretty much unphased by sizes. If it fits, it fits, if not I get the next size, and I usually tailor everything anyways. I think it's more important to just focus on measurments, at least that is a standardized system that will always be consistant (no matter where or how you shop.) Report
I knew something was up (with retailers) when I returned to the weight I was as a young adult (then a slim, healthy size 12), and today I swim in a size 12. Do I like that I fit pants that are size 8-10 (depending on the store)? Shorts that are size 6? Yes. Would I buy something that I didn't absolutely like, just for the size label? No. When I have, it inevitably ends up sitting in my closet. In the end, while fitting my body well, it doesn't fit "me" well. Just the other day, I donated (again) bags of clothing to my favorite thrift store that still fit great and were nearly new (some still even had tags - ouch!). This has become my pattern since losing weight. I think I was so thrilled at having a healthy body once again, that I am like a person long-starved who is suddenly facing a banquet. I'm learning...albeit, slowly. Report
When I was a young woman I normally wore size 9s, I did get down to 7s and some 5s for a year or so. I now wear an 8 - 10, I weigh about 20 lbs more than I did when I wore the 9s and about 30 lbs more than when I wore the 7s! Sizes have changed so much! Report
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