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 don’t fit anyone properly. Give it ten minutes and you’ll be wondering why we don’t give up and walk around naked.
Recently 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, an inch above the national average, which despite that fact is neither short nor 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 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 awful 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.)