â€œGive me an example of how women struggle with self-esteem.â€ Our professor stood in front of the class, scanning the room, waiting for answers. At first the silence hung as thick as fog over a swamp, but then a young woman tentatively raised her hand.
â€œGo,â€ said the professor.
â€œWell, um, my sister is really pretty, but she feels sheâ€™s too fat. I donâ€™t think so, but try telling her that.â€
The professor nodded and gave an encouraging, â€œkeep going,â€ smile.
â€œSo the other day we were out shopping for clothes and she saw this really cute jacket. She tried on a mediumâ€”a size she often wearsâ€”but couldnâ€™t even get the buttons closed with this particular brand. So then she tried on a large, and then an extra largeâ€¦ which was still a little tight. She actually started crying because that tiny tag, that XL, somehow confirmed her self-loathing. I felt so bad for her, and angry at the manufacturer.â€
I think every female in the room was nodding with understanding. Weâ€™ve all been there, right? How many of us squeeze into an article of clothing because we believe weâ€™re a certain size, or worse, that weâ€™re supposed to be a certain size. Everybody knows cultural perfection equals a size 4, or 2, or 0. (Is it only a matter of time before we get into negative numbers?)
The insidious thing is that itâ€™s not a valid measure of our size, and itâ€™s certainly now a valid measure of our worth. One brandâ€™s size 12 fits the same as anotherâ€™s size 10. One brandâ€™s â€œSâ€ is the next brandâ€™s â€œL.â€ Itâ€™s crazy, we all know itâ€™s crazy, and yet we let that freakâ€™n little tag drop-kick our self-esteem across the room.
The other day I was talking to my son about jeans. He was saying he has a hard time finding a pair that fits. They are either too long, too tight in the thighs, or the waist isnâ€™t right. â€œShouldnâ€™t a waist size be the same from brand to brand? I mean it is a measurement,â€ he said with so much innocence that I burst into maniacal laughter.
â€œWelcome to my world,â€ I said, â€œand be prepared to be confused. Often.â€
Wouldnâ€™t it be wonderful if we based our size on healthiness instead of randomly assigned numbers and letters? I know, I know, Iâ€™m being irrational.
So tell me, how do you handle â€œsize confusionâ€ when shopping? Do you feel bad if you have to go â€œupâ€ a size, or happy if you go â€œdown?â€ Do you ever cut tags out of your clothing because you wouldnâ€™t want anybody to see you’re a size Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â if you passed out and the nice paramedic had to cut your clothing off? Letâ€™s talk about it!