“…she had 9/10 pants and a very big bra.”
Biz Markie, 1989
Years ago, I was browsing a rack of jeans at a store with my boyfriend at the time.
“What size do you need,” he asked.
“I don’t know, probably a 9.”
He pulled a pair out and glanced at the tag.
“They’re a ‘half!’ Who the hell wears a half?”
They read 1/2, meaning a size 1/size 2. I corrected him, we laughed, but before he was able to feel too relieved, I showed him a size 0.
Women’s fashion has long been absurd. Men can remain confident that a 34/36 is going to be the same no matter where they go, unless one particular store is using metric and catering to dwarfs. Women, though, have had to figure out whether they are a six, seven, 6/7, or twelve depending on where they shop. In other words, men get to use the Euro. Women areÃ‚ still stuck converting escudas into markkas. Or something.
I remember my first time shopping in a Guess? store about six years ago. I was looking for a pair of size 10 jeans. A woman came to help me and laughed when I told her what size I wanted. She handed me a 6. Perfect fit. My first thought? Ooh, I’m wearing a size 6! My second thought? I am such a sucker.
I’m not the only one who has noticed, and apparently it’s getting worse. From this Boston Globe article:
The downward evolution of sizes illustrates the extent to which retailers, apparel manufacturers, and designers are conforming to American women’s obsession with wanting to be thin — even if it’s only in their minds, said Natalie Weathers, an assistant professor of fashion industry management at Philadelphia University.
It has come to the point where companies are marketing sizes like 00 and extra extra small. Looking at how this trend is evolving, I notice that the marked size of a woman’s skirt is inversely proportional to the advertised size of a cup of coffee. I’ve made this handy chart to show where we are right now compared to about twenty years ago:
|skirt||extra extra small||extra small||slightly less small||small, but you still look fabulous|
|coffee||tall||venti||la bucket||oceano di caffeina|
There’s a lot of talk about the growing sizes of women these days, and how manufacturers are changing their clothing lines to accommodate moreÃ‚ junk in the trunk (as the kids say)Ã‚ but I’m not really seeing what that has to do with anything. This is a purely psychological game to sell more clothes to flattered women. The Boston Globe article doesn’t offer any kind of statistics concerning whether it’s working or not, though it does offer the complaints of smaller women who are finding it difficult to locate clothes that fit them. Rarely do I sympathize with the incredibly skinny, but this quote from Wendy Chao, a molecular biology grad student at Harvard, made me love her and her fellow petites:
“I tried on a size 0 skirt and it was too big. To me, a size 0 is antimatter; it’s something devoid of any physical reality.”
As for me, though, I have to say I’m looking forward to the day I am finally able to squeeze into that pair of negative sixteens I’ve had my eye on.
Here are the lyrics to Just a Friend (quoted above), adjusted for deflation:
I asked her her name, she said “bla bla bla”
She had double-zero pants and a petite (yet still flattering) bra.