A zero or a 20, a petite or a long, an xs or a 4x, a 32 or a 42, an A or a K – for a lot of women, those letters and numbers are a part of who we are.
Though we probably shouldn’t, women often identify themselves as their sizes, whether it’s large or small, A cup or double-D, petite or tall, whatever.
For most of my high school and college years, I was a perfect size 14. After college, I was a 16. I didn’t buy anything without the letter “L” on it, whether it was an L, XL, XXXL or more.
I’ve lost weight since then, but I don’t even know my true size anymore.
I can take measurements all day long, but not all clothing companies go by the same standard sizes, so who can tell?
Women’s sizes aren’t as straightforward as they are for men. For women, finding the right size is a guessing game.
Sometimes I need a medium; sometimes I need a large, or maybe an extra large.
I have a pair of size 8 jeans that are too big – so am I a 6 or an 8? – and a pair of size 10’s that are too small – does that mean I’m a 12?
One day I bought three dresses in three sizes: small, medium and large. Was I supposed to celebrate the small or bemoan the large?
I’m Facebook friends with an actress and singer originally from North Mississippi but who now lives in New York, and she complained a few months ago that in one shop she’s a size zero, but in another she’s a size 10.
And if you fall into the plus-size category, you’re lucky if you can even find anything in your size, as most stores won’t carry sizes beyond, say, a 14 or an XL. And even if you do find your size, it’s likely to look old fashioned or just ridiculous – but that’s a column topic for another day.
We’re reminded all the time that we’re not small enough, if not in fashion magazines or on TV and movies but also in news stories about health and obesity.
We’re constantly told we’re the fattest state and we should get healthy before we come down with all sorts of dreadful diseases.
I know there’s truth to the news stories, but I also know probably less than five people who look like models or actors.
But I also know this: I can’t pay attention to those numbers on the little flaps of cloth in the back of my shirts and pants. They mean essentially nothing at all.
That number or letter isn’t some sort of beauty or health rating.
The smaller, the prettier? Not at all.
The bigger, the more unhealthful? Not even.
It’s a sad truth that people treat you a certain way when you’re a certain size – trust me, I’ve experienced it all – but that’s their problem.
We can’t let these stupid letters and numbers get the best of us.
We’re not better if we’re smaller, or less worthy of love if we’re bigger.
We’re just us.
No numbers needed.
SHEENA BARNETT writes for the Daily Journal Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.