Family

50 years ago, today's size 00 was an 8. This viral post shows why vanity sizing must end.

"Stop believing the social normatives about who and what you should be."

50 years ago, today's size 00 was an 8. This viral post shows why vanity sizing must end.

Deena Shoemaker was going through her closet when she realized something odd: She had several pairs of pants in drastically different sizes.

It wasn't that she had gained or lost a lot of weight recently. Despite the varying sizes on the labels, each pair of pants fit her exactly the same. Shoemaker is simply a victim of something that plagues millions of people around the world: arbitrary clothing sizes. Some brands are "true to size" while others "run small" or "run large." Still others use "vanity sizing" like double- or triple-zero to make sizes seem smaller than they are.

Finding six pairs of pants that fit her the same in a range of sizes from 5 to 12 opened her eyes to just how ridiculous our clothing size system truly is. And as a mentor coach at Youth Horizons, a nonprofit organization that supports at-risk kids, Shoemaker knew that teen and tween girls felt her frustration magnified tenfold.


She decided to share photos of herself wearing the pants to show just how absurdly unstandardized clothing sizes are.

No I'm not selling my pants; I've just got a bone to pick. I've worked with teen & pre-teen girls as a leader and...

Posted by Deena Shoemaker on Saturday, December 10, 2016

She wrote the post as a letter of support to the girls she's worked with over the years, many of whom struggled with body image issues:

"I've have girls sob in my arms and ask me, 'if I were skinnier, would he have stayed?' I've counseled girls who were skipping meals. I've caught some throwing up everything they've just eaten."

She goes on to explain why she's not happy with the sizing discrepancy that exists across clothing brands:

"When you resize a girl's pants from a 9 to a 16 and label it 'plus size', how am I supposed to fight that? ... How do you expect me to convince her that she doesn't need to skip dinner for the next month because her pant size didn't *actually* go up by seven digits?"

Finally, she implored any girls reading the post to recognize that clothing size does not determine their worth as a person:

"My dear beautiful girls, my size 2 girls or my size 18 girls, your size doesn't determine your beauty; your life does."

There's truth to what Shoemaker found in her own closet: Clothing sizes have been jumping all over the place for the better part of a century.

Photo via iStock.

According to a report from Time, over 50 years ago, model Twiggy wore a size 8. Today, writer/comedian Mindy Kaling wears that same size. These two women have two very different body types. What used to be a size 8 is now considered a size 00.

So where did these crazy size fluctuations originate? Simply put, clothing manufacturers thought women would find their actual measurements on clothing unnerving, so they began a practice known as "vanity sizing" to make women's sizes appear smaller. The horrible irony is the same system that was designed to make women feel better about their size is now making them feel frustrated and confused every time they go shopping.

Thankfully, there are people in the fashion world fighting to make clothes shopping a more inclusive, less stressful experience for people with a range of body types.

Melissa McCarthy promoting her brand Seven7. Photo by Paul Conrad/Getty Images.

Companies like ModCloth are doing away with separate plus-size sections in favor of including extended sizes with their main clothing lines because separating larger sizes is a form of fat-shaming. Newer designers like Mallorie Dunn are featuring women of all sizes to model their clothes and show the world they're actually made for anyone to wear. More and more, we're seeing curvy and fat models, actresses, and designers featured in the fashion world.

But we still have a long way to go. No one should feel they have to change their body to fit into clothes — clothes should be designed to fit the beautiful spectrum of body types that exist in the world. Not only that, but clothing should be marked appropriately and practically. Creating new sizes to make customers feel better only makes it seem as though some body types should be hidden or ashamed to be seen.

As long as vanity sizing exists, young girls who are just growing into themselves and learning to be comfortable with their bodies will face frustration when they go shopping. That's why it's vital for them to have people like Shoemaker on their side telling them it's all just bullshit anyway.

As Shoemaker wrote on Facebook: "Stop believing the social normatives about who and what you should be. You are lovely and you are loved. Just exactly the way you are."

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.