2.18.2007

Beyond the Double Zero

A lot of ire was expressed when the ‘double zero’ size was released. Here was the evidence that women were getting smaller and smaller, striving to attain unreasonable sizes and weights.

But I am a double zero and would like to come to its defense. Sort of.

When I was in high school in the 70s, I wore a size 6, and I weighed about two pounds less than I do now. Slowly, I diminished to a size 4 without shedding an ounce. Five years ago when I was five pounds less than what I weigh now, I wore a size 2.

Recently I went shopping for a new pair of jeans due to the disintegration of my old favorites. I tried on assorted styles in different stores. Finally I found a pair I liked. The size two hung on me. The size zero fit fine, but I didn’t like the overly distressed color of that specific pair. There were no other size zeros in that style, so I grabbed a double zero on a whim. I pulled them on with no trouble, but they felt a little snug, and I wanted a pair to lounge in. I stuck with the zeros despite the color I didn’t love. I figured they might grow on me.

And grow they did. After twenty minutes on my body, I could slip off the zeros without unbuttoning them. They sagged and bagged everywhere. Jeans stretch, but this was extreme. I wish I’d left the store with the double zeros.

The problem is not the double zero. The problem is size inflation, a marketing trick to make women feel better about our bodies when shopping. I am no giant, but I am no wisp of a woman either. At 5’ 2”, my weight usually fluctuates between 105 and 110, appropriate for my height. And I remain in the same clothing size through it all.

The frighteningly thin super models do set an unrealistic standard, and if you’re five foot ten and wear the same size as someone five foot two that is the problem to be discussed. But as long as size inflation continues, please don’t deny me my double zeros.

The bigger concern is the continuing message that a women’s worth is in her appearance. Virtually every woman’s magazine focuses on beauty – even when the motto is ‘accept yourself as you are.’ As ‘yourself’ you can still look pretty, and the magazine points out how, supported by countless ads to back it up. Some magazines reject this emphasis with more of a focus on politics or feminism, but if you stroll past a newsstand, the overwhelming message from the covers of women’s magazines is appearance, appearance, appearance.

Where are the magazine covers celebrating aid workers or women with small businesses, innovative teachers or dedicated community leaders? When will we routinely see covers adorned by women representing the breadth of female contributions, those that reside outside beauty and celebrity? And when will the press stop reporting what a woman of power wears to a meeting?

Quite simply, when will we modify the message of what it means to be appealing as a woman?

I find it impossible to be immune to these societal pressures. As much as I strive for achievement in my chosen field and seek to contribute to society, the message that comes through the loudest is that my primary goal should be to work on my appearance. And this is why size inflation works in selling clothes. We will accept even blatant manipulation to feel better about how we’re measuring up.

If women were routinely and widely celebrated for reasons outside our physical appeal, the size of models would matter less. The size of clothing would matter less. If female role models from every arena of life graced the covers of magazines, women and young girls would receive the message that we have more to offer than a perfect body and a nice wardrobe.

12 comments:

V-Grrrl said...

I have vintage clothes that belonged to my mother. She was 5 foot 6 inches and weighed about 120 pounds her entire life.

Her little black cocktail dresses from the late 60s were a size 14. I wore them when I was a 1980s size 8.

MsLittlePea said...

I used to work in a clothing store so I know what you're talking about. I'm a size zero too-but I'm shorter than you if you can believe it at 4'11-- ok that's a lie--I'm 4'10 and a half. That doesn't change the fact that I get completely disgusted looking at ads where it's so obvious that it's been photoshopped to make the model skinnier than is humanly possible. Then when I point it out to someone-they are so used to seeing that kind of stuff they don't beleive me. Or when someone will say about a woman who has a healthy shape-she's fat- because we are so used to seeing skinny,skinny,skinny as the norm suddenly someone who is actually normal-sized looks fat in comparison. It makes no sense to me. This is a conversation that could last years... Today was my first visit and I'm glad I came:o)

Spill the Beans said...

check out www.doveproage.com...amazing.

I have a friend who told me (at the huge size of 105) that she needs to lose ten poundsd. It's funny, but I feel sexier at 41 than I ever did at 21.

I enjoy my body far more.

I think young women need to see how little they have to fear from growing older.

There will always be those silly 40-something men in bars chasing after 25 year olds...and they deserve exactly what they get. ;)

Penny said...

Excellent post! Much Agreed!

I do not expose Oee to fashion tv or fashion mags and I remove her from 'I-Am-Fat' conversations.

I want her to know that 6 or 8 or 10 or 4 or 14 is sexy, depending on how smart and confident she is when she's searching for her fit on the tag.

It has to start somewhere.

I always love to read these kind of posts.

Women should unite.

Emily said...

I love the phrase size inflation...great post. Maybe you could start a magazine? I'll subscribe.

Leah said...

amen. amen. amen.

Rrramone said...

Amen sister.

Of course the jokester in me wanted to say what we men have known all along (thanks to our own delusions): that size doesn't matter. ;-)

acukiki said...

I get frustrated with the sizing because I never know what I am and I loathe trying on clothes. There was this New Yorker cartoon from years back that showed the US in outline and NYC and LA had a different color with a caption, too thin and the rest of the country said too fat.

Nance said...

Vanity, thy name is...! My husband always says, "Why don't women's clothes have the same sizing as men? Waist size, inseam, etc?"

Can you imagine it? I think that would be like printing the actual caloric content on every single menu item.

I wear a size 2--USUALLY--but it depends where I shop. I can wear a 0 at Express, but have to move up to a 4 in jeans if they are old-style Gap. It's madness. When I was much heavier, Lane Bryant had vanity sizing so that I could wear smaller clothes there than if I shopped, say at Macy's. And my husband? He still wore a 34 waist, 34 inseam NO MATTER WHERE HE GOT HIS PANTS.

ps--the word verification code for my comment--NO LIE--is "wwide". LOL

QT said...

Amen. My sister used to be so petite, she would try on size 2 anything and it would swim on her. She has filled out in her "old age" - in my opinion, she looks the best she ever has.

OliviaO said...

This is true - my mom had the same measurements as me when she was younger, and then she was a "normal" size 12. Now I wear size 6 or 8, with the exact same measurements as my mom. And my little sister is a size zero/double zero, and she is completely healthy, just has always had a natural "ballet dancer" type figure with very fine bones. The models on TV are ill because not only do they have those measurements, which are fine on people under five feet or so, but they are also 6' 6" and are still size zero. That's the difference.

Alice said...

Dang! Ok, so the american sizes are confusing me but this size inflation? I was really impressed that I can comfortably fit into a size (UK)6 (which i think is a US 2) but now I know why... damn size inflation! Also, i get you in a way that sizes are quite meaningless - i have the measurements of a size zero however i would never be able to fit into that size! Basically, sizes are just stupid numbers with no meaning.. sorry for the ramble!