Clothing sizes mean nothing as proven by this viral post
A woman’s viral post is making an excellent point about body image in relation to clothing sizes. Who among us doesn’t have a closet full of clothes in varying sizes that somehow, all fit? It’s beyond frustrating and for some women and girls, it’s also damaging, both mentally and emotionally.
When youth mentor Deena Shoemaker posted a collage of herself on Facebook wearing pants in sizes ranging from 6-12, she didn’t expect it to go viral. According to The Huffington Post, Shoemaker was simply hoping to reach some of the teen girls she had worked with over her years as a counselor and church youth leader to show them how different clothing sizes can be from one store to the next. Instead, her photo and its accompanying message has been shared over 55,000 times and counting.
She writes, “I’ve worked with teen & pre-teen girls as a leader and counselor in various places for the last 6 years. I’ve listened to countless girls tell me about their new diets and weight loss fads. I’ve have girls sob in my arms and ask me, “if I were skinnier, would he have stayed?” I’ve counseled girls who were skipping meals. I’ve caught some throwing up everything they’ve just eaten.”
And that’s when she got pissed.
“As I was going through my clothes tonight I started to notice how dramatically different the size of all my pants were. And I have a real problem with the fact that my size 5 pants fit me THE EXACT SAME WAY that my size 12 pants do.”
Shoemaker’s collage proves that clothing sizes are more or less bullshit, and it’s infuriating. Showing herself looking the same in a six as she does in a 12 from another brand, her point is clear — sizes mean nothing, and women shouldn’t let that stupid number dictate their self-esteem and worth.
Shoemaker explains that many of the girls she mentors struggle with eating disorders or cutting and that this kind of message is the last thing they need. “When you’ve got the fashion industry telling them they’re not good enough because they’re the wrong size, that’s just added stress on top of everything they’re already dealing with. They deserve something better than that. They deserve to know their true value.”
So many of us do let the tag decide how happy we should be with ourselves. And that’s why Shoemaker feels the need to speak out.
“I remembered all the times I’ve heard girls say they’re ‘fat’ because they went up a pant size, or talked about all the diets they’ve been on. I’ve tried telling them it’s not true but they never really seemed to believe me. All the pieces fell into place for me when I saw my own pants. The lies they were believing were coming from something so commonplace that they didn’t even recognize it as the source of their hurt.”
Shoemaker says it’s easy enough to prove to the girls she works with that Photoshop is a thing, and women’s bodies are constantly altered in beauty magazines. But she wants to know how to explain to a teen girl that going up a few sizes in a particular brand doesn’t really mean anything when society has assigned so much meaning to those stupid numbers.
She writes, “But when you resize a girl’s pants from a 9 to a 16 and label it “plus size,” how am I supposed to fight that? Photo manipulation is one thing but how do you expect me to convince her that the number printed inside her clothes is a lie too? How do you expect me to convince her that she doesn’t need to skip dinner for the next month because her pant size didn’t *actually* go up by seven digits?”
I still fall for vanity sizing occasionally and get down on myself when I don’t fit into the size I usually take. I have a closet full of clothes in sizes 4-10 that, like Shoemaker’s collection, all fit me somehow. Rationally, I know it’s nonsense and to not equate my worth as a human with how low the number on my pant tag is, but irrationally, it does make me feel bad having to go up a size. And I’m 35. It hurts to imagine how this makes a young girl feel.
To that end, Shoemaker closes her post with a big dose of affirmation. “And to you; my dear beautiful girls, my size 2 girls or my size 18 girls, your size doesn’t determine your beauty; your life does. The size printed inside your clothes is subjective to the fashion industry’s personal taste and it fluctuates rapidly. Stop believing the social normatives about who and what you should be. You are lovely and you are loved. Just exactly the way you are.”
And that’s a message we all need to hear.