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So glad I'm not a woman ...

Monday, January 13, 2014

... because I'm not strong enough to handle all the sexist b*llsh*t that women have to put up with in this patriarchal world.

As a fat man, (who used to be a lot fatter), shopping for clothes has always been an opportunity for shame and self-loathing. But - as a man - at least I didn't have to put up with two things that women routinely endure: the message from society that my appearance was the most important thing about me, and weird variations in sizes depending on the manufacturer. For example, my wife has clothes in her closet, that range from size 4 to size 10, and that all fit her. They are just made by different manufacturers.

But for years, I could just go in to a store, grab the nearest circus tent, look at the size and know whether it would fit. That was a good thing, especially as finding out that something that I thought should fit didn't would send me into a bout of self-recrimination. (Can you tell that learning to love myself at whatever size I am has been one of my big challenges?)

Lately, however, I'm noticing less consistency in men's sizing. Men's sizing is getting more like women's. I'm fighting for equality for all, but this is not the kind of equality I want!!!!

For example, a new semester is about to start and I'm forty pounds lighter than I was a year ago. So I needed a few new things for work. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I wore XXXL at my heaviest and I was still in XXL when I started Spark. Lately, however, I've been wearing L. So I went to one store and got myself a 16 1/2" collar dress shirt (that a L). The two edges didn't even meet across my stomach! What was going on? Just before I went to the store I tried on one of my son's 16" shirts and it fit. So how come a shirt which should have been 1/2" larger wouldn't even button? Then I tried a large vest with the same result. I tried an XL vest and that wouldn't button either. A XXL vest barely buttoned.

Other times I would have been in deep shame by this point. But this time was different. I had worked hard and I was 40 pounds lighter. It also helped that I was wearing a large shirt that this XXL vest would hardly go over. I knew it was the sizes and not me.

So, I left the store, not in shame but in anger. I found a different store, tried everything on. The result was four new shirts (all large, thank you very much). But even at this new store I tried on vests and only the XXL vest fit. So I've come up with a theory about who they are making this vests for:

Spark on friends.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    The lack of standardization in women's (or men's) clothing is a favorite soap box topic of mine. I could go on for hours about what is WRONG about women's sizing in clothes. In women's clothing, one size does not fit all. There is too much variation. I've always said that women's clothing should be sized like men's i.e. if the pants say waist 36, it has a 36 inch waist. Exactly what IS a size 12 waist ? No one knows because it's different for every single brand !!!


    Of course, I now know that even in men's clothing, if the pants say 36, they might not be 36. Men seem to be having the same "size" issues that women have.

    However, I will say one thing about men's clothing. it is better constructed and better quality than women's clothing. AND it's cheaper. Men's clothing will last longer than women's. I swear women's shirts start falling apart after the first wash. sheesh....

    anyway, I feel your pain. shopping for clothes is a pain because there is no consistency in sizing. I have to bring in multiple pairs of pants to try on. I've told people don't grab off the rack or you will be sorry.

    okay, passing on the soap box to someone else.

    LOL !

    1559 days ago
    I've worn scrubs almost exclusively for the last 12 years and even those can be hard to find a comfortable fit. I suspect, as someone else mentioned, that it's because most of them are made in Asian countries. I'm short, but I will never be 'Asian petite'. Hope that's not offensive. Can't think of a better way to put it. I've started buying material and making my own.
    1562 days ago
  • KAREN608
    I agree, men's clothes are no longer standard. Aggravating customers does NOT sound wise, in my opinion. I suggest emailing the companies that downsized their clothes and making it known all over the internet if possible.

    And sheets for the bed are as bad, some are so large and deep and all I have is a 'normal' mattress. Headaches just to get a nice set of sheets. And the prices?

    Congrats on your weight loss!
    1562 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    Congratulations on the 40 pounds!
    And also on the perseverance.
    emoticon emoticon
    1562 days ago
    You're right, it suck to be a chick!

    Congrats on rising above the insanity!
    1562 days ago
    I just got up and turned on the spark and you made my day! You are such a good writer and an inspiration! I also have lots of different sizes that fit me. The dressing room has always been a depressing place almost as unpleasant as the scale. Learning to climb over that wall of denial into the garden of self love is definitely the real challenge. Thanks for sharing your insights you have made such good progress! Enjoy those new emoticon large shirts! emoticon emoticon
    1562 days ago
    I HATE trying on clothes in the store, but have to for this very reason. I wear business casual most of the time at work and when I buy pants, I get a 32" inseam, just as I have for the last 40 years, or 33" if I can find them. In the last few years I have found that pants from the same brand, at the same store, bought at the same time, same style, type, etc., one will be right, one will be long, and one will be high waters! So now I have to try on each pair or at least lay them out and pick the longer ones!

    Great blog!
    1562 days ago
    Sounds like the opposite of vanity sizing, unless they feel men would rather wear a larger size? emoticon

    I watched "what not to wear" for a while, and they always told their "contestants" (not really sure what to call them!?) not to look at the size, but to see how the garment fits, and how they look in it. This is what I do now, and ignore the number, it's like the scale, it's just a number, and I have worked hard not to let those things get in my head and ruin (or make!) my day.
    1562 days ago
    Loved the punchline at the end! Thanks for the morning laugh.

    I will admit to purchasing something that doesn't quite fit right because I didn't want to buy a size up. So silly! The show What Not to Wear really helped me think about these issues. They always say to buy what looks best on you, regardless of the tag.

    And thank you for fighting for equality for all. ;-)
    1563 days ago
    You might have been trying a 'slim cut' shirt. I think those are made for young men who's bodies haven't matured yet but are big enough to shop in the men's department. That's my theory. Womens shirts though have slim cut sleeves. Why? So we will be shamed into having to wear a larger size. Very few women after age 20 have such slim arms. Find a brand that fits and stick with it, that's what I do for hubby and myself.
    1563 days ago
    I can relate to this post. My spouse (who is xxlt) has learned to try on stuff. We also use the same shirtmaker almost always (sticking with a winning strategy), so we are able to mail order. (Joseph Banks - expensive, but the quality is good).

    I noticed in India that even custom clothes had a problem because my calves are thicker sooner than the average Indian woman of the same size, and although they measured my calves, the salwar just didn't fit. We sent them back, but they still didn't get it right and I ran out of time.
    1563 days ago
  • NOMIS1
    It is frustrating. What a crazy society we live in.

    40 lbs.!!! That is something to be very proud of.
    1563 days ago
    Interesting! Didn't know this was happening in men's clothing.

    Will have to watch more closely with hubby's shopping.
    1563 days ago
    I've found as a general rule that American made clothing fits. China and Indonesian clothing seems to be sized way off. But it serves to help us realize that size doesn't matter, its how we feel INSIDE and the ability to move our bodies and shape them in the size WE deem is perfect, that's what counts. Great post.
    1563 days ago
    Well I have the same problem shopping. Its not just men and women but children as well. My three year old son is narrow in the waist so I have to buy him adjustable waist pants and that is one pain in the butt thing to find. Okay well anyway I used to work for macy's forever ago and here is the scoop I learned from the vendors. The models that these clothing sizes are made for are actually computer generated, i.e. not designed with actual human beings, that is why there are so many crazy sizes and such poor quality fit but that is what happens when clothes are mass produced. Keeps the cost of the product lower otherwise we would be paying $250 for a simple t-shirt.
    1563 days ago
    You read my mind! My weight has fluctuated fifty pounds or more, up and down, so I've seen this go two ways.

    Some stores use vanity sizing to sell more products. They usually do this to appeal to women, maybe she'll buy our jeans because she feels good about the size 6, she will be a loyal customer.

    While other stores take a more elitists approach, only the thin, beautiful, and popular girls shop here, so we can charge three times as much and only offer sizes Small and Extra Small! If you want to be thin, beautiful and popular you need OUR brand name all over your clothing to prove it!

    1563 days ago
    NOW YOU KNOW WHY I HATE SHOPPING WITH AN ALMIGHTY PASSION!!! Yes. They are making clothes for aliens now. Little green men. I am completely convinced that is what is going on. It's some interplanetary conspiracy to mess with all of us, and I refuse to participate. I swear, one of these days, I'm going to learn to make my own clothes and all the clothing stores can get in line to kiss my fanny. I'll even bend over to make it easier for them plot themselves an acre. Aren't I nice?


    In all seriousness, I think it has to do with the fact that so much of our apparel is made in Asia now. Asian men and women are built very differently from us. They carry their weight differently. It's just the way it is. For instance, there is no Asian woman alive with a waist-to-hip ration that I have. It is just not how a Chinese woman is made. There is not a thing wrong with the differences between a Chinese woman and me, except that there is no way in God's green earth that I could wear clothes in the same way a Chinese woman can. When I was in China, this was a source of much conversation between my female colleagues and myself when we would go on shopping trips (meanwhile, the men in the factory were fascinated by my *ahem* large frontal assets and *ahem* broad beam, and also terrified by my height). Clothing makers are not using Western people to model clothes, and now we are being made to suffer accordingly. It also doesn't help when one is larger than the average bear. I wish I had a solution, but the only thing we can do is not take the sizes personally, because they are absolutely arbitrary and useless.
    1563 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/13/2014 10:56:36 PM
    It's all monkey business if you ask me! I enjoyed your insight, but mostly, I'm super proud of your acceptance of yourself and the consistency of your weight loss. You've stuck with it and done so well. 40 pounds lighter than a year ago is fantastic!
    Have a great semester in your new size L shirts!
    1563 days ago
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