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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

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COLUMN: The power of numbers in women's sizing

entwomensizes-illo

It's a sunny, cold Saturday afternoon, and even though this is your favorite weather, you have the urge to spend the day shopping inside. Excited, you rummage through the store looking for tops you saw on TikTok, and jeans you saw on your friend last night. You don’t know what it is, but they just fit her exactly right.  

So, you scour. It's like a scavenger hunt, really, focused on finding one perfect, specific thing. After spending thirty minutes looking through everything in the store, you stumble across the fitting room. You have to try these clothes on, right? Every girl knows you can’t buy jeans without trying them on.  

You go into the fitting room and try on all the tops first.  

Then come the jeans. You don’t get your usual size because the girl working at the store says they run big, so you grab a size smaller, a four instead of a six.  

These numbers meant nothing but an age when you were younger. “Are you four?” People would ask you, and you would say yes if you were or correct them if you weren’t. Four was just the number after three and before five, or the number of presents you got on your birthday. It was really just a four.  

Now as an adult, four holds so much power over you, because a four is no longer just that. 

You try on the jeans in the smaller size. She said they run big, so they have to fit, right? They just have to, they must. One leg after the other, you put them on. And as you reach for that zipper and button, you repeat it in your head like a mantra: please fit, please fit, please fit. As much as you tried to be kind to yourself, the “please fit” voice beats the “it's okay if they don’t” whisper.  

And they fit. A little tighter than you’d like, but they fit.  

It's not joy you feel. It's guilt and shame, that you have let these jeans have so much power over you. And even then, you know they don’t fit quite right.  

As you walk out of the fitting room with the jeans in one hand and the tops in the other, you leave the confidence you came in with behind. It stayed in that fitting room, waiting to be picked up by someone who will fit into that size four comfortably.  

Ashamed, you walk toward the pile of jeans on the table and look for a size six because you weren’t small enough for the size four. And there it is, your usual size. You hope the girl that told you they run big does not notice, because how embarrassing would it be if she knew you did not fit into a four?  

You look at the jeans in a size six and strangely, they look pretty similar to the size four. You put them against one another and measure the waist.  

One says four and the other six, but they have the same waist measurement. And that only makes things worse in your head. Did you just try on a size four that was actually a six and it did not fit? Are you now an eight? Are you bigger than you thought you were? 

This not-so-small inaccuracy in women’s sizing, the inconsistency within the same brand’s sizing, has made you spiral. You buy the smaller size because you just can’t bear another size six in your wardrobe.  

Even though you walk out of the store convincing yourself you are a size four, you know deep down you would rather be uncomfortable in a size four than to be a six. You know this not-so-small inaccuracy will stick with you. As you walk home, you’ll turn towards every reflection looking for reassurance that isn’t there.  

You know it won’t only happen to you, it will happen to me too, and to the young girls who in a couple of years will be women. Just like you, they spiral, question their size and walk out leaving behind much more than the clothes that didn’t fit.  

The not-so-small inaccuracies in women’s sizing cause insecurities and distress because the difference between four and six is no longer two like you learned in first grade. It's actually the difference between having a good day or a bad one.  

The difference between a size four and a size six is your confidence as you leave the fitting room, and your self worth as you walk out of the store.  

The difference is no longer just two, it's too big and too unworthy to fit into a four.  

Isn’t fashion supposed to be something fun? Yet, instead, we leave stores filled with shame and newfound insecurities.  

I can’t help but think we as women are expected to be small for deeper reasons than vanity, for such passion for a cause only comes from within.  

The best thing a woman can be is small because we’re not supposed to take up space in a world tailored to men.  

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