The next time you despair over ever being able to find clothes that fit you, go be the “friend” in the fitting rooms at H&M. Within five minutes you will see proof positive that clothes just don’t fit anyone properly. Give it ten minutes and you’ll be wondering why we don’t just give up and walk around naked.

Last week I was the advice giver of the “does this make my ass look big” variety while a friend shopped for generic work clothes. During the twenty minutes I spent standing outside the fitting rooms, I watched 15 different people enter with heaps of clothes, and every single one of them left empty handed. Tall, medium, and short folks; hourglasses, pears, squares, rectangle, and oval shapes- multiple ethnicities (seriously it was bizarre how broad this sample of humanity was in this dressing room) and body types marched in and out. All of whom entered cautiously hopeful over adorable new outfits and left with shoulders slumped, heads down, and feeling crappy about themselves.

My friend was no different. We started at her standard size 4 and by the time we reached pants that fit her not-that-generous butt, we were up to an 8- in shorts, a size 12.  Of course being hobbit height, the pants were far too long for her so nothing actually fit her body shape. Now I could  easily turn this into my ever-growing rant about H&M, Forever 21, and similar low quality, low price stores that are marketing adult clothing to children who haven’t grown into their hips, butts, or boobs yet and are therefore screwing up the sizes, but that’s been covered and not the most salient point.

The real story is how we assume that we’re the only ones who have trouble fitting into standard clothes sizes. There is this myth that we tell ourselves that clothes magically fit everyone else, and it’s just our own terribly misshapen bodies that are the anomaly. This downward insecurity cycle of doom leads to us hating both ourselves and our fellow ladies for having body shapes different from our own. It’s easier to think we’re too fat, too thin, too square, too curvy…too everything but normal like the “bitch” in the dressing room next door.

And I’m just as guilty as everyone else. God knows I struggle finding clothes that work for my body type. I’ve got big boobs that are a DD on a good day and look as if I’m wearing someone’s butt for breasts. I’m graced with peasant hips designed to birth a litter. I inherited my father’s muscular legs (which every girl aspires to) and stand at 5’5, two inches above the national average, which despite that fact is neither short or regular, making inseams impossible. I have to go to a different store depending on the individual type of clothing I want to purchase- pants that will go over my hips at one store (PS Land’s End is shockingly a great store to fit all legs), shirts that are generally knitwear-only so my boobs don’t burst a button and take out someone’s eye, and undergarments that look like your grandmother’s to keep my back from breaking because I’m wearing an ass on my chest. It’s sexy. Really. If this weren’t enough, as someone who worships at the alter of preppy-wear fashion, finding clothes that fit but which also match my style is often times impossible.

I grew up with women who look and are shaped nothing like me; the ones we all instantly think of as those irrationally perfectly shaped lucky bitches.  My mother and sister are tiny. No seriously, Mom is a former ballerina/swim champion who has perfect natural blonde hair, dancer’s legs, was 00 through her pregnancies, and yet still had a proportionate sized hourglass figure. Then multiply that by three and you have my aunts and my sister. (Thank God they were at least short and I had some respite.)  It would’ve been all too easy to become the insecure redheaded stepchild, left out of the Stepford perfection that is their natural genetics. Until I went shopping for them.

Here’s a newsflash, it was just as hard for the tiny, short, delicately curved women to find clothes that fit them as it is for me. Everything is too long, or too big in the butt, or too tight in the ribcage, so they go up a size for one body part, down for another, and then it fits like crap across the board.  One of my dearest friends growing up was an all-star soccer player with the legs and butt to go with it and she couldn’t find pants to fit her muscular J-Lo butt and tiny waist to save her life. A tall and athletic friend has long arms and legs that are a nightmare for her to fit.  Every single woman I know has the same story.

Watching them struggle to fit their body types is liberating. Instead of going shopping and feeling embarrassed by my clothing size or being depressed that I can’t fit into the one-size-fits-all (and exceedingly arbitrary) measurements, I can commiserate with the “skinny bitches” who are 00’s and having the exact same problem. Why should I let them being smaller and taller than I am make me feel badly about myself, or furthermore make me jealous of them? They’re striking out just as much as I am.

The fact is, sizes are just arbitrary numbers that we let dictate our self-worth and how we perceive our fellow ladies. We get so caught-up in our own drama and let the fashion industry continue to make clothes that aren’t fitting anyone properly, that we don’t stop to look around and see that this is a bonding experience. Whether you can’t get those jeans over your thighs or your hips aren’t big enough to hold them up, it’s all the same. Fat, thin, curvy, wiry, or a smorgasbord of each, the fact is we’re all having the insecurities and frustrations that are screwing up our heads and our relationships with other women.

So ladies everywhere (and menfolk too), if I can make a suggestion, it’s to get out of your own head despairing of sizes and hating your looks. Because the fact is, everyone around you in that dressing room is feeling just as shitty as you, so take comfort in the collective combined misery and try not to take it so personally.

Then give the clothing industry the proverbial finger and lead a revolution for everyone to be nudists.

 

(But not really, because ew, public transportation in the summer.)

 

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Katie

Editor-in-Chief & Founder at Literally, Darling
Katie wrote multiple variations of her bio to no avail.The first painted her as a socially awkward political philosophy nerd who is more comfortable in nature, and likes critters more than people. The second spoke of her Southern big sister need to adopt everyone, feed them their feelings, and correct their manners. The third made her sound like a bitchy academic elitist who shops too much and has a dictator complex. All these things are true. In the end, Katie hails from Northern Virginia, hates polarizing politics, wishes she lived in England, and spends more time with her family and animals than anyone else. She can usually be found bossing someone (most likely her sister) around from behind her camera, or hosting overly complicated dinner parties. She writes for a living, is in graduate school for writing, and thought it would be a good idea to change things up, and start a website where she can, you know, write some more.

5 Responses

  1. Regina Flanigan

    Love this! One of the best things I ever did was figure out that stores have standard sizes, but there is no “standard body.” The *absolute best* thing you can do for your closet and your body image is to meet a good tailor. When I finally figured out that clothes not fitting wasn’t my fault and took things to a tailor, it changed my whole perspective. Clothes are like rice: a standard, but always better with a little spice. Tailors are that spice. Trust me, even if it’s a $10 shirt from H&M, if you love that shirt get thee to a tailor. It makes a huge difference in how you see your body (ahem, realistically and without hate) and how you purchase clothes (are you willing to schlep all the way to the tailor for a shirt you only kind of like?), making everything in your closet more special and wearable, which is the ultimate end goal.

    Reply
    • Literally, Darling

      Couldn’t agree more Regina. Most women (if they’re lucky) only have one truly fitted piece of clothing in their life- their wedding dress. A piece we wear for one day of our entire lives. Do we only deserve to feel comfortable in our clothes and our body once? I think not. Tailoring is your friend and it’s not even as expensive as you think it might be. Forget sizes, buy the clothes that come closest to fitting and then cut those suckers down until they fit like a glove. Wonderful advice. – Katie, Editor-in-Chief & Founder of LD

      Reply
  2. Jacquelyn

    This is an issue that I definitely relate to. I always thought my issues finding clothes that truly FIT was because I was overweight. Then lo and behold, after losing 60lbs (for health reasons. At this point I had given up on clothes), I STILL had the same problem. Clothes still fit poorly in the same places, and my insecurity monster about looking good in clothes reared its ugly head.

    Now, I am a seamstress, and I finally had an “aha” moment after augmenting a jacket pattern rather heavily to fit my linebacker shoulders but-not-necessarily-proportional ribcage. What if clothes from stores were made for the same whatever crazy body-model as the patterns I use for cosplay? After that, I felt free! I can buy clothes that approximate what I need/want/don’t like editing because it’s a pain, and then make it mine.

    Reply

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