I once tried something on, and it fit perfectly, then I looked at the tag and saw that it was a large. I didn’t buy it just because of it. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was a size large. I was recovering from my eating disorder, and the weight gain terrified me. I ping-ponged between wanting to be thinner and wanting to be happy at a larger size.
A year has passed, and I’ve bought many things in size L because that’s the size that fits my body and feels good on me. But the weird shame around larger sizes hangs over me; the desire to be a medium slips through the cracks of my carefully constructed self-love. I struggle to admit to others that I’m a size L, even though it’s clear on my body and a meaningless term.
Did you know that the average UK female is a size 16, which is a size large? The average woman wears a large size. Isn’t that strange then, that we’ve categorised it as large? That the medium size is too small for the majority of women? What’s worse is that we’ve cast large sizes in a gloomy shadow, something to be ashamed of. If the size is missing, you have to ask for it in hushed tones, if you even dare.
There is no shame in buying a size L. It doesn’t dictate your health, worth, or beauty. We need to remove this single letter’s power and recognise how futile it actually is to use such generic labels.
I’m not talking about a Brandy Melville “one size fits all” type of thing. I find it those to be painfully ridiculous. As your size doesn’t fit all, it doesn’t even fit the majority. For girls skinny enough to fit those “one size”, that is great for you, but we shouldn’t be excluded from the ‘all’ for having a different healthy size.
What I mean by one size fitting all is the shapes and figures we have and how inexplicably they differ. Someone can weigh the exact same and look like polar opposites. Two individuals can appear to have the exact same body, but different in mass and muscle. Someone can be the healthiest they could be and not be a size S or look thin. Someone could be painfully unhealthy and be an XS and fit for the runway. Our bodies are different. They will never appear identical and nor should they.
We could do everything precisely the same, our diet, sleep habits, exercise routine, and water consumption, but we would still look so different. My healthy is not your healthy, and my body is not your body. There is no “one size fits all” because all is too vast a category even to approach.
There is also no single size to beauty, no matter what magazines and weight loss companies will try to tell you. Everyone is attracted to something different, and this also changes. You may have a relatively slender partner and then date someone larger, someone muscular and then someone who doesn’t work out. Most people don’t have a restricted ‘type’, so don’t try to force yourself to become one.
You can be beautiful in a size L, and she can be beautiful in a size S, one does not deter from the other.
You’ve definitely experienced this before. Entered a shop and seen something you like, so you take your size and head to the changing room, only to discover that it doesn’t fit as even the generic sizing differs between stores. I know that if I’m buying from Monki, I should size down, whilst shopping at Zara definitely requires a size up. A size L in one shop is not a size L in another. There are no universal specifications for sizing, so each shop can size their clothing as they see fit. Most try to go along with recommended sizing to make it easier for shoppers, but discrepancies still happen.
Whenever I fit in an M, I feel this rush of pride, as if I’ve accomplished something. I haven’t, I’ve just stumbled upon a store that sizes things down. I could take that exact body somewhere else and wear an L or even XL. That’s just how the clothing industry works. But why get so torn up about a size L that somewhere else is a size M? The fact that sizing is so fluid makes it even worse that we place so much weight upon it. As something this fickle should not be making or breaking our day.
You’re wearing clothing in a size L today, and maybe you’ll wear clothing in a size M or a size XL a few months from now. So much can change and happen, and our bodies reflect this. But the fact that your clothing is in a size L says nothing about how you wear it and how good you look. Specific sizes do not own clothing styles or outfits; they are free to anyone who wants to wear them.
The size L does not tell your story. It doesn’t speak of how healthy you are. I say it often, and I’ll say it again, I know thin girls who live incredibly unhealthy lives and never exercise, and then I know larger girls like myself who eat well and love to run or go to spinning classes. An L is just a letter; we shouldn’t make assumptions from it. You know how you treat your body and mind, you know how you feel in your body, and so you should never let a single letter deter from that.
Your size is the least interesting thing about you; I can guarantee that. As women, we were taught at some point in life that our appearance is what we have to offer the world, it’s what we owe to our partners. But that’s a lie perpetuated by a society that wants to control and restrict us. You can be beautiful at any size, but you also don’t have to be beautiful. You don’t have to care about how attractive you are. Focus on the kind of person you are. How you treat others says so much more about you than the label in the shirt you wear.
Instead of depicting yourself as a size L, describe yourself as the person you are or wish to be. I am a loyal friend who will fiercely protect the people that I love. I am a writer and a reader. I am ambitious, and I love to cook. Those are the things that my partner and friends see in me, not the body that allows me to do all of these things.
When the size seems to take precedence, sit down, and write down a list of your best traits. It isn’t vain; it isn’t immodest, it’s taking a moment to acknowledge that you can’t be defined by a single letter. That you are beautiful at any size, but that you are also so much than just beautiful.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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