the size of a body

all-bodies-are-good-bodies
Friday was payday, and I'd planned out a massive shopping trip on Saturday to fill my closet with all the fall and winter items I've been dreaming of when I can't find anything to wear. I've never actually shopped at H&M, so I was really looking forward to finding some fab pieces like all of my fellow bloggers seem to. I drove up to the Domain and walked into H&M like a kid walking into a giant candy shop. For effect, I spun around a couple of times, trying to take it all in. There were rich maroons, heather greys, and turquoises; bright reds and slick blacks sprinkled about. Oh, and about a bajillion people.

My shopping list included black or colored denim, skirts, and all the sweaters my heart could handle. I immediately spotted some black skinnies and went to grab my size. My usual size appeared to be missing at least 3 or 4 inches at the waistline, but I figured it was just a poorly sewn garment, as is often the case with fast fashion. I thought, okay, I'll size up one and be good. The next size up looked to be the exact same size. I grabbed a pair 3 sizes above my usual size and quickly went on browsing. These were probably jeggings that would stretch once they'd been on a human body, right? Or, if they didn't stretch, there has to be another pair of black jeans in this store that wouldn't be sized so strangely. 

I grabbed a couple of sweaters, but mostly focused on pants, as they had so many great colors in stock. A pair of mossy green cords, two more pairs of black jeans at varying prices, and a pair of kelly green skinnies. I sized up two or three sizes in every pair, and took my findings to the enormously long dressing room line. They were incredibly busy, so I lied about how many pieces I was taking into the fitting room, just so I wouldn't have to navigate getting the remainder of my items through the sea of middle school girls and their moms.

I shut the curtain and got started. One by one, I tried to pull each pair of pants over my thighs. If I'm being honest, the jeans weren't even making it over my knees. I felt crazy, delusional, and huge. I stood there, wading in slim-fit denim that just wouldn't stretch over my legs. Forget a thigh gap, I was going to need to lose half the width of each leg to be able to fit into these jeans. "Fee fie foe fem, I am the giant of H&M, I texted a girlfriend. It's not that being one of the sizes I tried on was a bad thing, or something to be ashamed of, it's that the clothing in this store is unrealistic and incorrect.

I redressed and returned my pile of tiny clothes to the dressing room attendant, except one sweater. Even the sweater seemed to fit exceptionally snug around my tummy and didn't really fall correctly over my hips. I carried it around the store for a few minutes and eventually left it on a random rack and walked out of the store. Taking in the fresh air outside, I meditated on advice I frequently give to friends while shopping: if the article of clothing doesn't fit you, that's the fault of the clothing, not your body. It's those jeans' loss that they don't get to come home to my closet, I thought. 

Zara is a store I've bought some beloved sweaters in the past, so I stepped into my best strut and began making the rounds. I grabbed a pair of green jeans and a pair of black jeggings to just prove H&M wrong. I even sized up one for good measure, just in case I had gone up a size, which wouldn't really be a surprise to me. The gorgeous and kind fitting room attendant showed me to my room, and the process began again. The jeggings wouldn't even come over my calves. I couldn't bear the disappointment of not fitting into anything else, so I redressed and returned my items to the racks.

As I tell this story, I am acutely aware of my thin privilege. This is a story so many women could tell about every single shopping trip they've ever had. And that's heart-breaking, disappointing, and infuriating. No woman--no person--should be made to feel that they take up too much space for style. It's unacceptable for anyone to say what kind of body is good, and what kind of body just shouldn't exist or isn't worthy of being clothed. Fashion is an immensely problematic (read: fucked up) industry; this isn't news to me. However, the blatant missizing of clothing and intentional exclusion of some sizes (see: Lululemon, Abercrombie in recent news) is disgusting and unnecessary. Limiting the kind of bodies who can wear your clothing means less people who can buy your clothing. Does that even make sense? Obviously not.

I'm not sharing this story for anyone's sympathy, because really, I am privileged with being able to shop most places and incidents like Saturday are more few and far between for me than they are for most. I'm sharing to remind bloggers, fashion admirers, and wearers of clothing that all bodies are good bodies. Your body, no matter the color, shape, size, etc., is valuable and worthy of love. Style should be about empowerment and confidence, never exclusion.

14 comments

  1. Cool, I thought it was just me, at H&M.

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  2. I'm really glad I never ordered any pants from their website now! Their pants looks so cute (H&M) but I'm a size that varies a good bit from store to store so I very rarely buy clothing online, only shoes. I actually did a bit of shopping this weekend too, and had a really similar experience. I know that my size varies, and I've gotten to a point where I don't really care what size my clothes are, as long as they fit and look good on me, but you can really only put on so many pairs of pants that don't fit, re-dress, shop some more, put on more pants, repeat repeat repeat. Seriously. Every summer I have this issue with shorts. Places just don't seem to make many short for girls with thighs. I have to size up like four sizes to get a pair that doesn't cut off the circulation in my legs. And anything tight fitting or skinny I have to size up in. I was looking for just one good pair of medium to dark wash jeans without whiskering this weekend just to have another pair to rotate through now that it's getting cold here and I could not find a decent pair for the life of me. And seriously, you're one of the smallest people I know (size wise), so I can't imagine what a person looks like who fits in the pants that were your regular size that you went up from and still couldn't pull on. Who buys those pants? Hopefully once we start seeing more regular-sized models, we'll also see clothes sizes regulated too.

    -Jen
    yourstrulyjen.com

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  3. I wonder if it's a pants thing - I have the hardest time finding pants ANYWHERE though I can't say I've had issues with the dresses/skirts/tops at H&M. Just food for thought...

    I've had moments like this every time I've gone shopping, which is a big reason I like thrifting (forces you to ignore sizes) or shopping online (reviews and not as much trying on). I remember trying on pants at my regular store. My normal size 10 wasn't fitting. I had to go to a 12 for the first time... which didn't fit. I could no longer wear the pants I'd worn for years. As I was having this moment of self-doubt, I heard a woman next to me complaining that she did not want to wear a bigger size. For a moment, I wondered if she and I were going through the same thing. Her friend said something which told me the next size up was a 2 or 4. I felt heartbroken and totally useless. If she thought those tiny sizes were embarrassing, then what was I?

    But the moral of the story, even though I didn't realize it at the time, is that trying on clothing can take a massive hit to anyone's self-esteem, no matter what size.

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  4. Oh my goodness, that it is so surprising to me because you are so small. I haven't had that exact same issue, but i've had many issues when trying on clothes. I swear pants aren't made for me. I wouldn't consider myself excessively short, but when I try on pants thats how I feel, its like a constant reminder that I will never be tall enough for clothes. I constantly find myself trying on clothes and feeling like I'm drowning, everything is made for this 5'10 models that wear 00 which isn't realistic. Its hard for me, because I will never be tall enough no matter how much I wish I could be. I still look in the mirror and see that I could lose a few pounds, but even then the clothes won't fit me cause I'm too short. I know this isn't quite like fitting into pants, but it bothers me that I can never find clothing that fits me because very few stores actually carry petite items. I've resulted to shopping in the childrens section where I ended up finding that the pants are often floods, but I guess you can't win them all. Thanks for sharing this, our society is weird and messed up.

    K

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  5. Welcome to your mothers world of shopping. I go through the whole misses sizes, I look through the petites shirts, I go through each designer area picking up shirts, sweaters, pants and jeans. My cart is overflowing. Now I go to the dressing room. I got larges and x- larges for the top of my body. I always hope the large will fit, so i try on the large. Well, its cute but a little snug, so I try on the XL. That doesn't seem to fit cause it's to big. I continue through all the shirts. I may find 1 shirt out of the 25 I picked. It's this way every time I shop. Lets talk brushed denim and jeans. I have always worn Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.There is plenty of colors cause I don't really like reg jean colors. Well a year ago GV started making some of their jeans smaller. GV's size 12 has fit me for many years but the new size 12's are smaller. So I size up. That size is to big. What I do is go look at all the size 12's and compare the waist. I look for the biggest size 12 in the waist. If I find one or two I will go back and try those on. A lot of times I find that bigger size 12. Length is another thing. Regular length is too long but short is short. So I do the same and compare regular lengths and find the shortest of those. My issue with stores is they carry lots of smalls and mediums and not many larges and xl. I can't find my size because those lrg and xl are already gone. When stores have racks and racks of clothes on sale, it's 90% sm and med. I feel as you the stores and the brands they order from are dictating smaller sizes. In reality everyone is buying all the bigger sizes because that is what is in demand. Kohls has a brand Chaps. I would love to own some of their stuff, but they make their stuff on the small size of tiny. So you just don't shop that brand or at a store where everything is smaller than small. We need more stores coming to Texas and hopefully their clothes will fit. Journey on ladies, journey on.

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  6. Amen, sistah...this is a great post and just what I needed to hear today. :)

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  7. A) This post made my night. Ever since I started lifting weights more, my once-squishy-but-now-very-muscular-legs don't fit jeans like they used to. And it's funny, because with clothes off, I like my legs. But with clothes on, I feel fat. Why? Because skinny jeans tell me my legs are fat. H&M is honestly the worst with sizes. I am a size 4 in bottoms just about anywhere, but H&M? Size 10. Almost always. Ridiculous! H&M markets to girls my age, and if I, being a generally thinner girl than many girls in the world who are my age, am wearing your second-to-biggest size, you are eliminating most girls from shopping at your store. Not cool.

    B) I guess there really is no other point. I shoved them all in point A. Point B can be that I love you. And I hope you gave your legs a big ol' hug when you got home from shopping.

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  8. Lady, you're the best. Some stores have ridiculous sizing. Any time I shop at Forever 21, I know that almost everything I pick up will be too small. It's pretty stupid.

    If you haven't seen it already, I think you would really appreciate this article: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/10/lets-talk-about-thin-privilege/

    -Becca
    Ladyface Blog

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  9. This blog posting is incredible. I have so many thoughts I don't know where to begin...I think I'm just going to ramble:

    1) I'm sorry you had that unfortunate experience. I can relate to how that feels because I have been there many a time and I know it can really bum you out.

    2) I love your outlook on body acceptance. I also love that you know it's a problem with the clothing and not you or your body. As cliche and soccer mom as this sounds I'm going to say it anyway...You Go Girl!

    3) I'm going to try and word this with the best clarity I can because I'm afraid it might come across the wrong way. This posting gave me strength and hope. I have am going through a long journey of body acceptance and sometimes it is hard for me to remember that it is a topic which brings forth a struggle for MOST women. I have been trucking through stores at the mall assuming that thin women have no problem with sizing; that they can automatically embrace garments that are straight out of the factory and on the racks of main stream shops. I was convinced that my struggle with clothes was simply because I was not thin enough to make them fit. It wasn't until I started learning about body acceptance and something called Healthy At Every Size (HAES) that I began to realize that it may not necessarily be me... it might be the manufacturer. So thank you for sharing your story. Although it makes me very upset that you went through that experience (something I would not wish on anyone), it reassures me that it is the industry that is creating unrealistic size to garment proportions that can distort the way we think about our bodies and our body size.

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  10. This blog posting is incredible. I have so many thoughts I don't know where to begin...I think I'm just going to ramble:

    1) I'm sorry you had that unfortunate experience. I can relate to how that feels because I have been there many a time and I know it can really bum you out.

    2) I love your outlook on body acceptance. I also love that you know it's a problem with the clothing and not you or your body. As cliche and soccer mom as this sounds I'm going to say it anyway...You Go Girl!

    3) I'm going to try and word this with the best clarity I can because I'm afraid it might come across the wrong way. This posting gave me strength and hope. I have am going through a long journey of body acceptance and sometimes it is hard for me to remember that it is a topic which brings forth a struggle for MOST women. I have been trucking through stores at the mall assuming that thin women have no problem with sizing; that they can automatically embrace garments that are straight out of the factory and on the racks of main stream shops. I was convinced that my struggle with clothes was simply because I was not thin enough to make them fit. It wasn't until I started learning about body acceptance and something called Healthy At Every Size (HAES) that I began to realize that it may not necessarily be me... it might be the manufacturer. So thank you for sharing your story. Although it makes me very upset that you went through that experience (something I would not wish on anyone), it reassures me that it is the industry that is creating unrealistic size to garment proportions that can distort the way we think about our bodies and our body size.

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  11. You are an incredible person. I totally agree with everything you wrote. Horray for feisty, smart, and and insightful people like you.
    xo Paige

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  12. You are an incredible person. I totally agree with everything you wrote. Horray for feisty, smart, and and insightful people like you.
    xo Paige

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  13. Hey Nicole! I read this post awhile ago and wanted to come back to it and comment because I too visited H&M this weekend and had a similar experience! I was actually wearing jeans, size 4, that I bought at H&M a few years ago when I went there this weekend. I spent nearly 2 hours pushing through the hoards of people to grab handfuls of clothes to try on because the prices are pretty hard to resist. Keeping in mind your post I sized up in everything and was able to find a few pieces that I was able to *squeeze* into- in size 8! I just kept telling myself that I was buying 10 different pieces for around $100 so how could that be bad! By the time I left I was hot and sweaty and felt immediate buyers remorse. I decided to go home and was walking back to my car when I passed Lucky and saw that they were having a sale. I went in and ending up finding several pairs or corduroys and shirts that fit me So.Much.Better than anything that I had just wasted half my day trying on at H&M! I returned everything that I bought at H&M and, yes, I spent more than $100 at Lucky, but at least I didn't leave the store feeling sick and ashamed! The quality of the clothes at H&M has gone down and I have NO IDEA what they have done to their sizing in the last few years. The difference between the jeans that I was wearing compared to the clothes that I was trying on was almost laughable! I love the jeans that I bought a few years ago and they actually stretch out and get saggy when I wear them! It seems like several people have had this experience and I just wanted to share mine too- end rant!

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  14. At H&M I always have to go up 2 sizes, whether its skirts, dresses, pants ,etc. I think their sizing is just weird!

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