As I was shoving myself into my Size 6 jeans last week (and I do mean shoving) I was feeling rather smug that I could–if I held my gut in–button them. This got me wondering why. I mean, who really cares? Why do I care?
For one, I care because I haven’t worn Size 6 (note the cap) since…um…5th…wait–4th grade which is really, really long ago. While size is just a number, whether on a garment item, or on the scale, we can’t help but be influenced by it at times. It’s really quite ridic if you think about it. Is anybody really focused on what size pants I’m wearing? Furthermore, do I really want to be that girl that runs around telling everybody her pant’s size?
But here’s the thing. When you’ve had to shop in the “special stores” for an extended period of time where fashion lags far behind what hides the fat, you understand what I mean. When you’ve had that snotty Size 0 sales clerk look you up and down and say, “Oh, there’s nothing in here that will fit you” you get what I mean. And, if you had the nice man slam the door in your face at Size 22, but hold it nice and long with a smile at Size 6, you know what I mean. (That’s irritating, but it’s the way it is, like it or not.)
Like it or not, size matters. And it really sort of sucks that it does, because, quite frankly, I think it’s a strong genesis for eating disorders. There’s a fine line between ideal weight and that ten pounds below that makes you look gaunt paired on the inside with a misconstrued idea that lower numbers are the Holy Grail for the body temple. And, on the other side, the guilt and worry (and on the worse end of that extreme–vomiting) that accompanies the full refrigerator/pantry/drive through binge. Why? All for the numbers.
This concept hit home when I was forced to name my sizes for a shoot for Health Magazine (May issue). New Balance wanted to send some clothes. The editor I was working with asked what size in bottoms, tops, sport’s bra, and shoes. This got me thinking about how I shop. I can wear from S-L in all those categories, depending on the designer. What also struck me when the clothes came to my front door was the size tags. A medium in the US was an extra large in Asia. Ha! Sad and funny all at the same time.
The importance of the number/size grows as the obesity rate sky rockets. Have you seen the new pay what you weigh campaign put forth by airlines? There is a movement underway to charge customers their weight. Or the insurance companies? Your premium dollars will be connected to the number at the scale. We think it’s unfair, but the companies that are having to pay more because Americans weigh more are throwing up their hands and change lurks on the horizon.
Like it or not, the numbers matter. So for today I’m going to let myself have my moment of smug in my Size 6 jeans because for so long I couldn’t…and now I can.
Beauty and body image is so influenced by our culture! My newest children were looking through old photo albums and came across some of my pictures from when I was heavy. They were all exclaiming on my beauty, puffing out their cheeks and running their hands over my thinner face. “Why you change, Mommy? You so beautiful like this!” as they point to their puffy cheeks. In Ethiopia, if you have enough money to eat, you are beautiful.
I love this, Natalie. Such a poignant example from your little darlings. I’ve seen those pics and they’re right–you’re beautiful both ways! I’m willing to bet you’re healthier now, though. Thanks for sharing this perfect example of the arbitrary nature of beauty. Power Hugs! Jamie
I experienced the same treatment from male co workers….extra friendly when my weight was good and then treated as if I were invisible when the weight returned. One day it occurred to me that it just might be me, not them. That just maybe when I was “mean n lean”, that just maybe my energy, my whole behavior thing is what made them treat me different. Happy people, energized people, do attract positive energy…and when I’m lean n green ( hahaha) mean…I am much more energized than when I’m not so much and not so happy with myself. Just my thought Sue
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So true, Sue, so true. I even notice the difference when I dress in that frumpy I-just-gave-up-on-life way vs. spend a little extra time with the curling iron outside the weight issue. Attitude emanates out and is reflected back. Still, I do think there’s a difference. Our culture sees fat first. Some overweight people rise above that with positive attitudes that help attract positive energy. And, yes, when we are happier with ourselves, we’re more confident…more likely to engage. That’s why I think size matters, not just to others but to our own psyches. Thanks for your thoughts!
It is a numbers game, isn’t it. As I’ve gotten older (gasp) I tell more by the way I feel in and out of my clothes, on or off the scale. I admit those numbers, weekly weigh in, jeans and tees help to keep myself in check.
The clothes feel is a great test for sure! Those jeans I was talking about are not forgiving, if you know what I mean. (You’ll always be young to me!)