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Vanity Sizing

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A few weeks ago I celebrated walking into Lane Bryant and buying the smallest size they had on the rack. At the time, I couldn't believe that anything fit, but I accepted it and skipped joyfully out of the store thinking that I had just gotten away with something HUGE.

The fact of the matter is that I DID get away with something HUGE. Me. And Lane Bryant is one of a number of stores right now that are also getting away with something HUGE - lying to the women (and men) of America about how big we really are.

Tonight, as a gift to myself for losing *almost* 50 pounds (the scale will tell me tomorrow whether or not I have to wait one more week) I ventured to the basement and pulled out my skinny clothes suitcase. Now, let's be honest here - my "skinny clothes" are all roughly size 16-18 with some venturing as high as a 20 and my "goal dress" in a size 12. But seeing as how I recently fit in to the 16-18 categories at the store, I thought I'd break out the bag and re-discover just what I had stashed away almost 5 years ago now. It was like a blast from the past. Most things I forgot that I even owned at one point in time. A lot of it still has tags on it. Some of the items are truly my favorite pieces of clothing, including a red plaid jumper that my grandmother made for me in highschool. Better believe I'm going to be busting that out again come Christmas! (I love that fashion recycles itself every few years). But try and try again, item by item, everything in that bag is still about one size too small for me, despite the numbers on the tags.

My rationale - corporate America has got some serious explaining to do.

How can it be that in just 5 years, the actual, physical size of a "Size 18" has ballooned to what used to be considered a 22? And who are we really fooling anyway? I held those "Right Fit" jeans that I just bought three weeks ago in a size 20 (and already need to go back for an 18) up next to the Venezia (the old brand of Lane Bryant Right Fit) jeans from 5 years ago, also in a size 20, and the difference is appalling. The new jeans are clearly made from a stretchier, lighter weight fabric that has more give to allow for more curves - translation: it allows my big, fat behind to pretend like it's something that clearly it's not.

I've lost weight before. A few times. My suspicions were already aroused. It made me wonder why in the world the last time I fit into a size 16-18 I was 30 pounds LESS than I am right now. The scale isn't wrong - the measurements are. And that's downright mean. Get a girl's hopes up and break them down like that. So I'm packing the bag back up for the time being. Instead of it being my 50 pound reward, it is now going to be my reward for completing my Weight Watcher Challenge (hopefully around Christmas) - because now that I've seen what's in that bag again, I know there are some things in there worth working for!

But back to this "Vanity Sizing" thing for a moment - it infuriates me. Wake Up America! We, as a society, are literally bursting our britches. And it's NOT ok. It's NOT ok to fool us into thinking that we are smaller than we are. It's NOT ok to continue to allow a whole country to live in such denial. And it's NOT ok to continually de-standardize sizing charts to sell more clothes. Tell it like it is - WE ARE A FAT NATION. Period. I was on the bus the other day and I looked around me and I swear to you there was not one, single person on that bus (including me and the bus driver) who was not morbidly obese. I wanted to cry. What are we doing to ourselves? We are killing ourselves for capitalism. Is it really worth it? Sell more, eat more, waste more, take up more space. It's disgusting.

I almost want to take all those clothes back to the store. Problem is I've already worn most of them. And, sadly enough, it still excites me that the number on the tag says 14/16 - even though I know now that's a bunch of bull.

At the end of the day, however, this journey is still about how I feel, and not the numbers on the tags, or the scale, or the tape measure. It's just depressing that everyone here on Spark is doing this, fighting against "the man", for a healthier existence when quite clearly we are still shouting into a void. It's not easy being unsupported in your efforts, especially when the force you are fighting against happens to be the whole country and the almighty dollar. But - it all starts with a tiny Spark right? We are making movement. Slowly the brushfire is spreading. And bit by bit, person by person, voice by voice, we WILL make changes in this nation's outlook on health, well-being, and the obesity epidemic. Today it all starts with me, and a suitcase of "skinny clothes."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hey Ann - I agree with most of what you say here. My rant wasn't SO much about Lane Bryant (they just happened to be the last place I bought clothes) so much as "America getting fatter" in general. You can look at it one of two ways - yes, thank god for places like LB who fit my fat patush when it got so big. It has been a godsend to me for many years now. But also, shame on these stores for calling bigger and bigger sizes smaller when they're not. I don't think it's a matter of people not buying clothing in bigger sizes (we have to wear clothes, so we'll buy them anyway), it's that we're being lied to about the severity of the situation. I know it's not about a number, but for many people (me included), hitting that next size up was a big wake-up call. I didn't want to be a 26...EVER. But the fact of the matter was, I was even bigger than a 26 depending on where I bought my clothes. I may have done something about my weight much earlier if I had reached that number in the sizes from 5 years ago.

    But thank you for your comment! I love a good debate regardless!
    2726 days ago
    I agree that this was a great blog...and may I say that I love your background?! I DO!! But I don't disagree with companies raising their clothing fact, I feel like they're being forced to. How many ORIGINAL size 0's are left anymore? Companies raised their sizes without changing numbers not to provide vanity for us, but to keep up with our growth. We consider it vanity, but in reality, these stores wouldn't make any money if they kept their sizes the same while America gets fatter as a whole. Know what I mean?

    I'm sorry you got your hopes up, but's not about sizes anyway. You've lost an incredible 50 lbs!!

    And Lane a Godsend for a lot of people. Calling it Lane Giant is just plain mean toward those who haven't found the willpower to lose weight's also judgmental and rude. No one is better than anyone else for being smaller or larger.

    What I'm trying to say is this: Vanity sizing and Lane Bryant didn't make you gain weight. They didn't make you dislike the way you looked, or even convince you to do nothing about it for a while...YOU did. Vanity sizing and Lane Bryant gave you a place to shop until YOU decided to change. They gave you a self esteem when you were too weak to find one yourself. ETC.

    I'm not trying to be mean at ALL, not even a little bit. But I do think it's a waste of time to blame the companies and vanity sizing...when we're the ones who have control of what we eat, buy, and do.

    Again, congrats on your loss!
    2726 days ago
    Old Navy is very guilty of this too. I can wear a 12 there, while in every other shop I am a 14. So frustrating!
    2726 days ago
    It's the non-standardizing that really gets my goat. People ask, "So, what size are you now?" and I have to respond, "Which store are you going to?" It's pathetic really. And it really frustrated me in the beginning of this process when I went from a super-vanity size 30, to a closer to true 30, to a regular 30. Drives me crazy! I wanted a drop in pants size so badly, but I had to just keep working through variations of the same size!
    2726 days ago
  • MMS354
    Ugh, I HATE Lane Giant. It's the worst store ever - their sizes are messed up, their prices are high, I never shop there anymore. I've found better luck at Nordstrom or Macy's - I shop only from the sale racks - but the sizes seem to be a bit more true. I can't wait until I'm a size 12 or 14 so I can give Lane Giant the finger once and for all.
    2729 days ago
    word! great blog...i agree...although the only shopping i've done at lane bryant has been for bras (i'm not curvy and have popsicle stick legs) i've done a TON of trying things on there...i guess now i know why i don't buy from them. old navy does the same thing...only now if you're a fat girl you have to shop online only UNLESS you can squeeze into an XXL or a 16...and frankly, it depends on the season with them - its never the same size twice!
    at least we all know we're here in this fight together!
    2729 days ago
    Great blog. Yep, that's what it comes down to: we will buy spend more if it allows us to feel good about ourselves. And the fact that the tag says we're slim makes us feel good-- no matter how the clothes actually look!

    You know what? Go back and cut those size tags out of your clothes. All of them. They clearly aren't accurate anyhow and will just be a source of frustration and discouragement for you. Then you can celebrate whenever you fit in something new... no matter what "size" it is.

    2730 days ago
    HERE!!! HERE!!! HERE!!!! Completely agree!!! My favorite "fat" jeans are no longer made by Lane Bryant....but they weren't a size "20" or "22"...they were a 6!!!! SIX!!!!????? I loved those jeans -- wide, straight big butt always got complemented in longer make them :-( In any case.....their right fit jean sizing is totally bogus. You are what if it says "6" should I get excited? NO!!!! Because I still have a big 'ol butt!!!!! :)
    2730 days ago
  • WYND10
    I noticed the same thing about Lane Bryant. I can't fit into their clothes very well anymore, but go to a "regular" store and try on the corresponding size and boom it fits. Crazy isn't it? Bah.
    2730 days ago
  • WILD22
    great blog. I feel the same way. Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. Today that same 16 is concidered an 8. Go figure the curvy blonde bombshell was what we now call small. She was perfect. But it just goes to show how society has try to pull the wool over our eyes to make us think we aren't a "growing" nation. The saddest thing about it is we have let this go on for so long. I completely agree with all that have commented above us. I too have no idea what size I really am. I know they say that size doesn't matter, so why are they trying to fool all of us.
    2730 days ago
  • SWEETS86
    I totally agree! I have a pair or 18's from about 10 years ago and I KNOW that I was at least 30 lbs lighter then I am now when I could wear them. I totally agree about the material used in "Jeans" these day.s My old jeans are true, totally stiff, no give pants. I can't stretch those puppies if I wanted to!
    It is sad that society is going that way. My goal is to fit into the 10's I wore 12 years ago (yes I still have them) and that way I KNOW that I am truly back into that size.
    Way to keep it real!
    2730 days ago
    I know, it is uber confusing... and frustrating at any size. I wear generally anywhere from a 2-8 depending on the brand. How on earth are we ever supposed to know where to find clothes. GRRRR!!! Rant on girl, because the world needs to hear it. I really and honestly have no idea what "size" I am anymore. Despite losing it all, its a little disheartening, no matter where you are in the journey!
    2730 days ago
    Your right! Sizes have definitely changed!! I guess to make everyone feel better. Not sure though!
    2730 days ago
    There are a few plus size stores here that size there clothes 1, 2, and 3. REALLY?! I remember a sales lady being so excited that I could wear their size 1. It didn't mean much to me. I was still fat, shopping in a fat person's store. Lane Bryant is a big offender and I hate that they use skinny models for their advertising.

    2730 days ago
    Thank you for this. I've been feeling much the same thing, but haven't really seen other folks discussing the rather amazing (to me) size inflation that seems to have happened in the several years since I last did any real clothes shopping. I always knew that sizes had increased at some point (or points) from the '50s/'60s to the '80s because my mom's young clothes were so tiny even though they had the same number as my plump teenager clothes. It seems to have happened again, but in a big leap. And sadly most people seem to just be enjoying the shortcut to being "smaller."
    2730 days ago
  • JRZG8R
    The sizes were kind of bogus from the get go. How can you even have a friggin size zero. I think women could get back huge chunks of their time if sizes were in a measurement. Women waste so much time trying stuff on because you never know what Ouija board they used before putting the labels on. Guys, neck in inches, arm length in inches, waist in inches, inseam in inches easy enough to figure out you know your measurements you aqre done don't even have to try it on. Yes we have clothes that come in s, m, l, xl, xxl, xxxl, xxxxl etc but guess what there is usually a chart to tell you what hat means in inches.

    To the point though you have been working hard so even though your weigh was lower for the same size you may be more fit. I only lost 18 pound since restart and I am more narrow by a couple inches. I credit the work at the gym. THis is not an actual measurement but there is a machine at the gym and that sucker has a fixed with. when I started I could not do full range of motion because love handles got in the way. Now those bars slide right by giving me a better workout.

    Take a little credit for why you fit a smaller size but give those garment people a little heck too.

    2730 days ago
  • SHERYLP461
    Oh, you are so right, it is mean. I think it is wrong to change the sizes. I remember when I was in HS I wore a size 3, the smallest you could get. My granddaughter wears a double 0 and she is bigger than I was. It is so wrong to fool people into thinking they can't be so big if the clothes fit. GRRR it makes me mad.
    2730 days ago
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