Small, Medium, Large, Xtra Large
It started with folding clothes.
My mother enlisted my brothers to help, and after a small lesson on the proper folding of shirts, they were off. We stood around, quietly working, our eyes occasionally flashing to the episode of Supernanny that was playing.
My brother was handed one of my shirts-- an Orange Crush, vintage-y looking thing. He held it up. "Oh my gosh. Look how small this is compared to all our clothes!"
I laughed. "It's an XL. It's not small."
"It's an XL? That's disgusting!"
My mom told him to please keep folding, and he did.
A few days later, he bought it up out of nowhere. "Hey, remember your shirt that was an extra large? That's just gross how small that was."
"It has to do with brands and sizing and stuff. It really doesn't look like one."
He didn't seem to hear. "If that's an extra large then what does an extra extra large look like? Or do they even have those?"
That got me thinking today. About sizes. And how--if I get to thinking about it--women's smalls, mediums, and larges are, at times, so much smaller then men's.
Of course there are the vastly different body types. Women are shaped the polar opposite of men. That's part of it, I'm sure.
But why? Why brand a shirt that's really not that big an XL? So that a girl can look at the label and not buy it because she thinks she should be in something smaller, when in reality it's not that great of a size?
It's pretty obvious, in everything from TV commercials to magazines, the standards society puts on what an appropriate, normal, non-frowned-upon size is.
Small. Petite. Muscular in all the right places. Size XS to M, and absolutely nothing above. I can't tell you how many times I've read a cover with the words: I lost ___ lbs! How I did it! Or Lose Weight Fast This Way.
Over a period of time, way back when, these guidelines were set. And I've heard it before, and you've heard it before, but here it is again: The Perfect Girl is Perfect because she looks healthy. There is nothing visually unpleasant about her.
Except perhaps that strained smile on her face.
Size pressure comes into play with popular brands like Abercrombie and Fitch or Hollister or Aeropostale.
I just had a look for myself on Hollister's website, at the size chart.
The biggest size they offer for women is a Large. In juniors (what most teens wear), that translates to a size 11.
A size 11 girl (by their standards) would have a 30 inch waist. A 38 inch bust. And you know what? That's not that big.
A more disturbing fact: the largest t shirt size they offer for men? An XXL.
So here it is, everyone: one of the most "popular" girl/boy brands, Hollister, only clothes the skinny, perfect people.
And I'd bet you an anything their large isn't even that large.
Here's a girl asking about their offering plus sizes: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081220162412AAIY1Mb
What are the statistics on the others?
Abercrombie and Fitch's largest women's size is--you guessed it--Large. Their largest guy size? an XXL.
Here's an article on that: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/fashion/abercrombie-won-sell-xl-ar...
The truth is this: Men are accepted as being larger. They do not have the same expectations put on them as women. So what? So he's an XXL. He's a big boy. He's strong. Right?
She's an XXL. She really needs to work on that.
We teenagers of the female kind are expected to be small, perfect, beautiful. We are expected to squeeze into too-tight clothing or, you know, actually fit into those small clothes.
Think about it this way: my XL Orange Crush shirt (which is not really that XL, or even L), wouldn't have been allowed inside the walls of Abercrombie or Hollister.
It makes me sick. And we shouldn't stand for this.
Next time you go to buy clothes, I challenge you to not look at the label. Find the jeans that look like they would fit. Try them on. And you know what? Whether it's a size smaller than you usually are, or two sizes bigger--they'll still fit.
You'll still like them.
They'll look good.
The label doesn't matter. Honestly, it doesn't. Your happiness does. Your health does. Your confidence does.
That XL isn't so large. And you are still beautiful.