Also, this is long. Sorry.
This weekend, for the first time in ages, I went shopping. I had a list of things I'd been wanting for awhile, and took advantage of Matt being out of town for a race to have a girl's afternoon with Elizabeth.
At the top of my list was "holey jeans". I used to hate torn jeans because I don't understand spending a lot of money on clothes that are already destroyed, but the trend has brainwashed me over time and I wanted a pair. Even though I'm too old to shop there, I decided to go to American Eagle because I know their jeans fit me and jean shopping can be traumatic, so I wanted to go somewhere I felt comfortable and "knew my size". Oh, the irony.
At AE, I found jeans in two different styles that looked promising: the jegging and the tomgirl.
|Jeggings on the left, tomgirl on the right.|
I didn't have a problem with fitting into a larger size, but I was wondering how my body had changed so much in a year without my noticing it, especially considering how in-tune with it I've been since surgery. I accepted the change in my size but felt a little thrown off. My other clothes all fit. I am very happy with where my body is right now, especially as I've been able to run again, and I just felt a little baffled. (Of course, I immediately assumed my body had changed, and not the sizing at AE.)
Then, I grabbed the tomgirl, and, in the same way I knew I needed a 4 in the jeggings, I knew I needed a 0 here. In fact, the 0 was bigger than the 4 I had hung over my arm.
Obviously the tomgirl style is more relaxed in the legs, but it makes no sense to me that the actual sizing would be different because even if the style is different, if you're size X in something at a store, you should be that same size across the board, no matter the style. But the waist of the 0 in the tomgirl style jeans was a good inch - maybe even 1.5 inches - bigger than the 4 in the other style. I pointed this out to Elizabeth; we both found it ridiculous. When I tried them on, both styles fit me.
Now, this experience came a week after I measured myself for my groomsmaid's dress for Scott and Robby's wedding. That day, I was a little upset that my waist was bigger than I remembered it being when I last measured it in...well, maybe way back in high school, to be honest. I looked in the mirror and suddenly, for the first time in months, was unhappy with what I saw.
And then I was upset for being upset, because like I said above, I'm very happy with my body and its abilities these days, and I'm confident in how it looks. I should be past being upset over arbitrary things like sizes and inches!
Literally the day after I measured myself I was over it and totally happy with myself again, but it was frustrating that putting a number on my body derailed my self-acceptance so easily, if only for a short time.
Back to jeans shopping. Because we went shopping so soon after the dress experience, I felt kind of inoculated to the shock of picking up a size of jeans larger than I'd ever worn before. Like I said, I was surprised, but I didn't experience the kind of self-hatred spiral that I may have in the past, before I really came to terms with my body. I didn't have a major reaction until I'd compared the two jeans and realized how absolutely and totally bonkers American clothing sizing is when it comes to women's fashion. I mean, I knew this before, but to see it laid out for me so clearly was almost funny.
Here we were, in one store, a single brand of clothing, a single type of clothing, and there was a four-size difference between the two jeans that fit me!
I ended up going with the tomgirl because I had wanted a relaxed, airy, comfortable jean for summer. I also branched out of my comfort zone and bought a lighter wash that I've ever owned. The rest of our shopping trip was uneventful; I found most of the other items on my list and we had Moe's for dinner. But I couldn't stop thinking about how messed up women's sizes are.
My point is that I hope I remember this story the next time I go shopping and have to size up. Sizes are totally arbitrary and bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Every body is valid and deserves to be dressed in a way that is comfortable and flattering. What the tag says doesn't matter. Feeling confident, strong, sexy, cute, or whatever feeling you're going for in those jeans? That's what maters.