We’ve all been there. Stood in the changing rooms of our favourite shops trying on that dress/those jeans in our regular size, desperately trying to rectify the glaringly obvious: that they just don’t fit. You stand there blaming the ‘fat mirrors’ like you’re in some carnival attraction, strenuously denying and delaying the fact that you’ll have to try on the bigger size. You know you’re a size 10 for Christ’s sakes so there is absolutely, positively, NO WAY you’re trying on a 12. You don’t care that it could make all the difference. You would rather leave empty handed than have to admit to that fact that you couldn’t get the 10 over your thighs.
You exit the changing rooms rather flushed and on a definite low mumbling something to your friends about it “just not being right.”
On the flip side nothing can quite compare (not even chocolate or cupcakes) to the thrilling high of discovering that your normal size is too big. You take great pleasure in having to ask your friends/the shop assistant for a smaller size. You stand in front of those mirrors feeling like a million dollars. You’re as smug as the Cheshire Cat when he’s patronising Alice, hell, you know that somewhere out there you must have a friggin fairy godmother. You automatically see yourself in a whole new light.
In this scenario you exit the changing rooms half a stone lighter than when you walked in, questioning why you ever thought you needed to go on a diet or hit the gym when your obviously Cheryl bloody Cole.
Two totally different outcomes, two totally different ways in which the changing room experience can affect your mood. But unfortunately this is the gamble we take every time we close the curtain to try on something new. But why?
The reason is there is no such thing as a standard dress size any more. No matter if you are usually a size 8 or a size 18 it’s virtually impossible to be the same size across all high street stores. This is because each retailer will size their clothes depending on their own research and their own set of rules resulting in varying measurements and therefore varying sizes. The mind boggles. Of course it would be so much easier if all the retailers got together and agreed upon a standard size guide ensuring that you would be a regular size across all stores, but hey, since when has life been easy?!
I myself have been on the receiving end of the changing rooms of chance. As a usual size 8 I was thrilled when in Topshop I found a dress that fit far better in a 6. This probably had more to do with the style of dress and less to do with dropping a dress size in the time it took to walk from shop floor to fitting room. Still my confidence was boosted. Happy days.
Then there is the story of the bikini hunt. I’ve been looking for some new bikini’s for a while and started my search in Accessorise as I’d seen some rather cute ones. I took my usual 8’s into the changing rooms and needless to say I didn’t find those fecking ‘kini’s cute on my way out. I left Accessorise feeling like a whale, close to tears in a foul mood and kissing goodbye to my confidence, which was going to hell in a handcart.
This put me off the bikini hunt for a while.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that the bikini hunt was successful in the end once I’d decided to pay no attention to the number on the labels. I now have three very trendy bikini’s which suit my shape and flatter my figure and I’d much rather that than be wearing one that’s too small. I don’t mind saying I have one from M&S (an 8) another from Topshop (a 10) and the final one from ASOS (also a 10)
So it’s about time I learnt my lesson. In Dorothy Perkins and H&M I’m a size 6, in Topshop and Miss Selfridge I’m an 8 and in the event I’ve ever been able to get anything from Zara it’s been nothing less than a size 10. And I’m sure you all have similar stories no matter what your size. As soon as you accept that there will be these sizing differences the better and the less hold the changing rooms of chance will have on you.
It was only after realising this that I felt rather silly. We shouldn’t be asking why the sizing is different, what we should be asking is “why do we care?” After all isn’t size just a number? If you find something that suits you and it fits, whether you’re a 6 or a 16 does the size really matter? If you like it and it flatters your figure why should you feel upset if it’s the size above what you would ‘normally’ wear? If it looks good and makes you feel great then why should a number on the label compromise that confidence?
We need to stop defining others and ourselves by dress size. I know for a fact that the term ‘size 8’ doesn’t accurately describe or define who I am as a person. Just like the number on the label of your clothes can’t define you. If the readers of this post were to come with a label that label would say words such as: Smart, Beautiful, Strong Minded, Fun, Kind, Individual, Unique. These are the things that matter. And if fashion retailers began to print words such as these on their labels I know for sure that the numbers wouldn’t mean a damn thing.