One Size Fits All? Clothing Sizes and Body Shaming

Please imagine this situation:

You are in a shopping mall full of various and colorful clothes. After looking around, you take your favorite dress to the fitting room - you are sure that the color and the cut will make you look gorgeous. However, when you try to put it on, “OMG it's too small! I have to find an XL one!” 

Will you feel embarrassed or even shameful? 

But wait, why is clothing size related to our feelings to our bodies? What is going on here? 

Victoria’s Secret - “The Perfect Body”

In 2014, Victoria’s Secret, the famous American women lingerie and clothing brand, released a new lingerie collection named “Body” and published a poster ad with the words “The Perfect Body” surrounded by bodies of the well-known VS supermodels. 

The advertisement soon got a widespread backlash online and was criticized for “body shaming women” by the public. The campaigners against the slogan advocated that VS was promoting an unhealthy and even damaging message to women about how their bodies should be judged. VS was blamed for making women feel insecure about their bodies to stimulate consumption. Soon a petition demanding VS apologize and change the poster got over 30,000 signatures, and a hashtag #iamperfect spread on Twitter.

Brandy Melville - “One Size Fits Most”

In the spring of 2020, an Italian fast-fashion brand named Brandy Melville became popular among the United States. The target audience of BM is the teen girls from 13-25, who are supposed to have small chests and small waists. BM is famous but controversial for its slogan - “One Size Fits Most”. 

Different from other fast fashion brands, on the BM website, most of its clothes don’t have a size selection option; instead, it is noted that the items only fit “size XS to S”. BM is often blamed for its single-sizing scheme that may push eating disorders among teenagers. Nearly all the models on BM website are at least 5’7’’, with waists no larger than 25’’. However, according to a CDC report in 2012, the typical American 16-year-old is approximately 5’3’’, with a 31’’ waist. A CDC 2016 study suggested the average waist size for 13-19 years old girls is 32.6 inches. In other words, the “one size” does not fit all, or most, or even many

What is going on? 

Have you ever controlled your diet just aiming to fit in smaller sizes? 

Have you ever felt proud of yourself when you put on size 0 jeans? 

In pop culture today, smaller sizes are linked to attractive, skinny, fashion, and perfection, whereas larger sizes are linked to fatness, poor self-control, rustic, and overweight. Brands set an “ideal” but an unrealistic body for teens, and watch teens striving for it. The culture behind sizes is actually thinspiration - no inclusivity, no body diversity; the thinner, the better. 

At the age of teenagers, people are dying to seek approval and attention from their friends and the opposite sex. When the clothing size, a standard that can be easily quantified, appears, it is inevitable that teenagers will take it as the golden rule. Surveys show that 53% of 13-year-old American girls are “unhappy with their bodies”, and this number rises to 78% 17-year-old girls. It is also found that among the U.S. adolescents aged 13 to 18 years old, eating disorders are more than twice as prevalent among females (3.8%) than males (1.5%). 

From an interview with a mom and a girl about their opinions towards Brandy Melville, the girl confesses that even though she is very body positive, it is still very “disheartening” when she finds that she was not able to fit in BM’s clothes. 

The clothes at Brandy don't take into account that we have bones, we eat, and we are living human beings”, said the girl. 

Size Does Not Define You

Fortunately, with the development of “body positivity” movement, there are more and more brands offering special sections for plus-size clothing. For example, Forever 21 stores have a special section for “Plus+Curve” options with sizes ranging from “0X” to “3X”. Aerie, a lingerie sub-company of American Eagle Outfitters, uses bodies of all sizes to display their underwear since 2014. Rejecting Photoshopping the models, Aerie is using the hashtag “#AerieReal” on social media to show their models with visible spots, stomachs, stretch marks, and body rolls. 

CLOVO is also offering sizes for all body shapes. Either you are skinny or chubby, we are here to support you in the same ways, so please love your body!

Everyone is Different; everyone is Perfect

Remember: 

Size is just a number; it never defines you!


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