Keely’s Fitting Room Confessions: Part 1

This past week, Kristin and I decided to go on an adventure to West Edmonton Mall in hopes of discovering the truth behind the “one size fits most” phenomenon. As well as comparing the sizes of different brands of jeans, from low-end to high-end, to better understand inconsistencies within women’s clothing. This is just a quick overview of our trip. A more detailed analysis is coming soon.

My Stats

me

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 160 lbs

Tops: M, L

Bottoms: 10-12

Those are my stats just for reference. And the picture here is me in my regular clothes. I consider myself very average. Not too small, not too big. Could I lose a few pounds? Maybe. Will I? Only if I want to. Also, the most common size in the US is a size 12, so I think I represent the majority just fine. So keep this in mind when looking at the photos of me in the “one size fits most.” Either I am much larger than a size 12, or one size doesn’t fit most. Spoiler alert.

Clothing Sizes around the World

We already know shopping can be hard, annoying, frustrating and downright painful at times. What makes it even more confusing is the fact that every single country has a different sizing system. Stores like H&M and Zara have the different sizes right on the label, which makes it easy. But other stores only have the European size listed, which is a headache.meee

Here’s a conversion table for women’s clothing sizes. It looks slightly intimidating at first. And it is! A lot of foreign stores are making their way into North America. Especially in huge shopping centres like West Edmonton Mall. This means that not only are the clothing sizes within Canada confusing and inconsistent, but now we have to worry about the systems in other countries too.

One other thing that really irks me about shopping is that half the time jeans are sizes 0-14, and the other half of the time they’re 24-32. What’s up with that? Why can’t we just come up with a universal sizing system for jeans? That would be nice.

The Stores

Kristin and I wanted to visit a variety of stores so we could really compare the differences in clothing. We visited some very, very expensive stores, as well as some more modest ones. We each tried on several pairs of jeans at each store, and I definitely noticed some patterns. This is a quick breakdown of each store we went to, price point, sizes available and some notes about what I noticed.

Brandy Melville

Price: $

Sizes: XS, SM, “One size fits most”

Overall Impression: I need to eat a salad.

This store makes me very sad. The clothes are super cute, but they literally only carry a size small or extra small. The tag will say “one size fits most,” but the tag on the actual piece of clothing says small! It’s ridiculous. Even the jeans were labeled SM or XS. The only thing that actually fit me was a sweater, but that’s only because it was meant to be very oversized. I would definitely not shop there. I wouldn’t want to give my money to a corporation that caters only to supermodel-sized women.

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High Grade

Price: $$$ – could barely afford to be in the store

Sizes: Up to size 31 or 32

Overall Impression: Nice jeans, but sizes were too small. Not a lot of options.

I was very uncomfortable when we first went into High Grade. Maybe because a pair of jeans is half of one month’s rent. There was definitely an air of pretentiousness. I also felt a little bit guilty since I had absolutely no intentions of buying anything. Not that I could buy anything anyways, since the largest size they had was a 31, which is roughly a 10.

True Religion

Price: $$$

Sizes: Up to size 32

Overall Impression: Not worth $400

I have the same feelings about True Religion as I do about High Grade. The largest size was 32, which is a 12. There was a pair that fit me, but they were also $400. No thanks. They don’t have any options for curvier girls, which is unfortunate. I guess the brand only caters to smaller people because they don’t want larger people to be seen wearing their clothes.

 

Old Navy

Price: $

Sizes: 00-30 (plus size)

Overall Impression: Awesome! Caters to ALL shapes & sizes. There’s an option for every woman here.

I commend Old Navy for being so all-inclusive. They have a bunch of different sizes, cuts, and lengths for pretty much any body type. They also go up to size 30 (plus size)! No one has to feel bad or ashamed, because there’s something for everyone here. And the prices are more than reasonable.

 

American Eagle

Price: $-$$

Sizes: 00-18

Overall Impression: Plenty of sizes & fits for every body type. Also available in short and long.

I may be a bit biased, because AE is my favourite store. But I think they do a great job at reaching a wide audience. Like Old Navy, they also have a variety of lengths and cuts. They also go up to a size 18, but only carry up to size 12 in store.

More pictures and a detailed analysis coming soon!

-Keely

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Body Dysmorphia and the Problem of “One Size Fits All”: An Aside to the Fitting Room Confessionals

Body Dysmorphia, or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), is an anxiety disorder related to depression which affects both men and women equally.  A person who suffers from BDD is literally obsessed by their appearance, usually fixated on a flaw that is beyond their control, or which is almost unnoticeable by others.  Oftentimes, the flaw is imagined.  This obsession with an invisible or uncontrollable problem begins to manifest itself in compulsions to adjust, camouflage, or “fix” the issue, with some BDD patients going so far as to engage in extreme, and sometimes unnecessary, cosmetic surgeries, which may or may not rid them of feelings of inadequacy or discomfort.

While BDD affects both men and women equally, the areas of concern differentiate greatly: men with BDD tend to be worried about their body build, thinning hair, and genital size. Women, on the other hand, have a much longer list of common BDD concerns: skin, stomach, weight, breasts, buttocks, thighs, legs, hips and excessive body hair.

So what does this have to do with #BoycottBrandy?

Among other things, the idea that Brandy Melville’s clothing ought to fit “most” people who walk into their store could be seen as a trigger to people with, or at risk of developing, BDD.  Societal expectations and standards for beauty add to the pressure that people living with BDD feel to maintain their appearance.  Brandy Melville’s philosophy of “one size fits most” has the potential to trigger the panic and anxiety of the disorder.  Constructing the idea that “most” people can fit into Brandy’s clothes is alienating: if I don’t fit into those clothes, then am I not most people? Does that make me different? And is that bad?

Going to Brandy Melville and experiencing this kind of discrimination firsthand was rather disheartening.  Keely herself, as we finished up our trip, commented half jokingly, “Well, that was depressing.”  Having struggled for so long and so hard with body image and trying to find clothes that fit me properly, it’s easy to let the sentiment resonate a little.  And when so many stores have thin models in their photos and constantly stock more of the smaller sizes near the tops of their displays while hiding the larger sizes in harder and more awkward places to reach, the message that is being told becomes clear: the bigger you are, so are you less welcome.  To fit, you have to work harder for it.

And that, to me, is just plain unfair.

– Kristin


For more on BDD:

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-body-dysmorphic-disorder

http://bddfoundation.org/helping-you/about-bdd/

http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd

***Disclaimer: this post contains information from a quick Google search, including a summary of information found on the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, but should not be considered authoritative, medically.  For more information on BDD, remember to consult a professional.  This post also contains a personal opinion on Brandy Melville, the clothing industry, and how it can potentially be linked to BDD: this, is a personal opinion and should not be cited as an authoritative source.