This post is in conjunction with #NationalEatingDisorderAwarenessWeek
You are not your dress size. You are a human who wears clothes that so happen to have a number attached to them. And sometimes, you are unfortunate enough to experience the inconsistent labelling that can cause even the most confident among us to question their worth.
Towards the end of last year, I decided to finally replace my old pair of black jeans with those from a more sustainable brand. I ordered the same size as before. The size I knew myself to comfortably be. And I waited for the parcel to arrive. But when it did, and I opened the package, it was clear that these jeans were not going to fit. In theory, the number on the label was the same. In reality, they were nothing alike.
At first, I questioned myself. In an instant, I looked in the mirror and presumed that it must have been me who had gotten bigger. But then self-doubt turned to confusion, and my confusion turned to rationality. I hadn’t outgrown my other clothes. So, how come this pair had to be different?
Initially, I chose to compare them to the old jeans I had been wishing to replace. Then, I chose a pair that was smaller in size but evidently bigger in the waist. By the end of it, I realised that the number on the label was so detached from the measurements that this had to be a mistake. But it wasn’t. Not according to the website or society or the brand.
As a child, my clothing size was always bigger than the ones associated with my specific age. It didn’t matter that I felt as self-conscious as a six-year-old as many others feel at sixteen. In my mind, there was something wrong with me. I’d never be good enough if I wasn’t smaller, not as long as I had my chubby cheeks.
I used to cry in the changing rooms when I was younger, defeated by the cute outfit that wasn’t made to fit me. As a teenager, I continued to hate my body. And then, at Christmas, after coping with lockdowns and a pandemic and moving, one pair of jeans almost derailed the body positive mindset I had worked hard to sustain.
In truth, I don’t think society will ever change the way it chooses to market clothes. As long as capitalism thrives, diet culture will always be used to feed off our insecurities and make money. I do however think that we have the power to start fighting back against the number on the label — to view clothes as a means in which to fit us, not a power tool in which to make us hate our body. For as long as we continue to take care of ourselves, our dress size is nothing but an irrelevant category. And as cliche as it sounds, we really are so much more than a number on a scale, or a single pair of jeans.