My body isn’t standard, so why are my clothes?

Before I start this post, let me forewarn all of you that it’s not exactly on topic. Rather, this has been something that’s weighing on my mind lately. As I drove into work today, I debated how to post the results of our Whole30 Challenge. Would I post how much I’d lost, give my actual weight, or just leave it alone? That sparked an entirely different internal debate for me…hopefully my train of thought isn’t completely off the wall, so here goes…

Why am I afraid to post my actual weight for the world to see? Men share their weights all the time, especially in the world of athletics where it’s posted on every roster and TV screen before a game. Why should it be so taboo for women? Personally, I’m average height and have an athletic build. I’ve run two full marathons, but also go through periods where I won’t run at all for a few weeks. I’m a healthy person, yet because of my muscle mass, most people are floored by my weight; it’s much higher than they’d expect. The biggest problem I have with this is that we’re conditioned to believe that my weight is not normal. I’d be willing to bet most women are in the same ballpark I am, so why do we have to be so embarrassed by weight?! For the record, I’m 5’5″ and weighed 151.4 pounds before we started the Whole30.

As my drive continued, I started to think about the suit I was wearing. My jacket fit alright, but the pants were starting to look a little loose on me. I’m not saying I’m upset about losing a little weight, but that got me thinking about why they fit so poorly. Women’s clothes have no standard measurement, nor is there any direct correlation to the measurements of your body. Designers use arbitrary numbers that vary as much as the designs themselves. I can wear anything from a 2 to an 8, an extra small through a medium. Why can’t the women’s fashion industry have logical standard sizing? I’m not the only person to notice this phenomenon either; Time released an article on the basis and origin of women’s sizes a couple years ago, though we haven’t seen drastic improvements (article here).

I began thinking about my husband’s clothes, and his typical work ensemble includes separate sizes for each of the following: his neck size, sleeve length, shirt size, waist, and inseam. His suit jackets and sport coats? They’re sized by his chest measurement. All of these sizes are done in exact measurements rather than arbitrary numbers. While men can walk into any store and find clothes nearly perfectly tailored to their body off the rack, there’s nothing comparable in the women’s market. Is our own insecurity in being honest about our weight and measurements driving the fashion industry to use these arbitrary sizes?

Think about yourself for a second. You’re unique, you may have curves or may not. You’ve got your own sleeve length, inseam, waist and bra size. Each of these measurements impacts how clothing will fit you, yet I’m not aware of any designers that take these factors into account, and include them in their sizing. Wouldn’t it be incredible to be able to walk into any store with the ability to find clothing tailored to you with the kind of precision and measurements that men benefit from?

Unfortunately, I don’t have some great new conclusion or revelation to resolve this issue. I wrote this as a way to get my own thoughts out there, and to spark the debate. But wouldn’t it be great if we as women could break through those insecurities, going behind the curtain of Oz to put ourselves and our sizes out there honestly? Could we have enough impact to truly change the market for the better?

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Me, after finishing my second Marine Corps Marathon

One thought on “My body isn’t standard, so why are my clothes?

  1. Love this! I’m 5’7 and 150 as well! Not scared to admit it… even though I would like to be 140. But I certainly have never fit into anything XS or S in the past 5 years!

    And I agree it’s strange that men’s clothing is so precise when ours isn’t. I never thought about it that way!

    I wear medium tops but prefer large now because I like things more baggy. But if I’m a large, then that’s not fair to all the women who are bigger/bustier than me! Our sizing is just crazy in general.

    I try to not get hung up on what the label says anymore. No one sees the XL on the tag. They just see if it fits me well or not. That’s all I care about!

    (Also I totally thought you were taller that 5’5!)

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