Do Those Dress Sizes Matter?

Confessions Of A Single Stylish Mum - When Does Dress Size Matter?

I recently fluctuated three dress sizes in one day. In search of an evening dress I visited a popular retail store in Melbourne and was thrilled, (not to mention shocked) to see that the size 12 was literally swimming on me and I needed a 10. Now if I am going to be completely honest, there is no way on this earth that I am a size 10. In fact not even one of my breasts would fit into a normal size 10.  However I relished in the knowledge that this was indeed the size I needed as I called out to the sales assistant in a louder that normal voice to ‘please bring me the 10’.


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After purchasing the dress I moved to the next store to buy a pair of pants. It’d been so long since I had shopped as a size 10 and I was going to savor every moment. I grabbed a pair of pants from the rack and even though I was now a svelte size 10, I decided to try on a 12. To my horror I could barely get the things above my calves let alone over my bum. I had gone up two sizes in about 15 minutes and went from a place of self-adoration to an all out anxiety attack, all because of two numbers on a tag.

Size anxiety is becoming a critical mass. Having interviewed hundreds of women over the years, very few have reported to feel at ease with their size. It seems that our sense of self-worth is directly linked to how we believe we are perceived by others and since attractiveness is determined by society, we are putting ourselves at the mercy of society’s whims. We get an incredible high when we receive a compliment, but are left deflated if the feedback isn’t positive or not given at all.  I have to wonder if women put as much effort into finding world peace as we do our bodies how much better would the world be. So many women I know have allowed their body insecurities to impact their lives to the point that some stop living their full lives. They no longer take their children to the beach, or go on bike rides for fear of being judged by a society that judges people for being over a particular size.


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Unlike weight, which is a quantifiable figure you can count on, size tags have become infuriatingly inconsistent. It seems that designers have tapped into the bankable truth that the size on the tag weighs heavily on a woman’s psyche and can determine how she feels when wearing their brand. Further designers have their own agenda when sizing their clothes, some outwardly admitting that they do not want to see fuller sized women wearing them. In an interview with The Daily Mail, Patrick Couderc, managing director of Hervé Léger, said he doesn’t want women who are past a certain age, “voluptuous,”  “committed lesbians” or women who “lack sufficient class” wearing the label’s famous bandage dresses. Legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld was sued in France in 2013 for discriminating against plus-sized women and saying “nobody wants to see curvy women on the runway.”

According to a recent study women spend an average of 55 minutes every day working on their appearance. If we break that down a little further it amounts to 335 hours every year — or an entire two-week vacation — lost to their looks. As women we all want to look and feel good but what we need is for designers to give us more, and better images of beauty and diversity. Regardless of our size, we want fashion to be fun and to help is feel good about ourselves. To eliminate an entire category of women from joining us on the joys of feeling good is to perpetuate a much larger problem.

Melanie Sheppard

Confessions of a Stylish Single Mother is written by Melanie Sheppard, a writer and single mother, passionate about uniting women to share their stories and live their best lives, regardless of how embarrassing they may be… as she knows from first hand experience. You can see some of her latest work at www.melaniesheppard.com.au

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