You know those days when you’re reading blog posts from other writers you respect and you come across THE post? THE post that makes you nod your head up and down in agreement? Our guest poster, Julie C. Gardner, is one of those writers whose audience often is seen nodding their head in agreement and understanding. We are thrilled to have her sharing her voice today with a story about all things LARGE.
However, one aspect of me that is not large (by most standards of measurement) is my body. Yet this truth is belied by the tag inside the participant shirt I received when I ran the 2010 L.A. marathon. I recently grabbed this souvenir from the bottom of my work-out drawer, and as I slipped it on I slipped back to the March afternoon I stood outside Dodger Stadium waiting to sign in at the race expo.
Having received my racer’s bib and promo-bag, I’d headed to the shirt-distribution tables. During online registration I’d requested a medium, but the real-life volunteer glanced at me and said, “Oh honey. You’re a large.”
I held up the slip of white polyester and it indeed appeared to be the correct size.
I grabbed safety pins to affix the bib to my shirt and offered my thanks to the volunteers. Then, because the forecasters were predicting heat, I bought a tank top “just in case.”
I picked size L, of course, as I’d been told.
Perhaps people assume measurements are skewed in the world of running – that anyone who trains to complete 26.2 miles must be ultra-skinny. But if you’ve ever been near a race, you know runners of all shapes and sizes participate. In fact, many entrants are there because they’re working on weight control, getting fit, making a change.
And there I was holding my large shirt when, in reality, I’m fairly small. I knew there’d be a decent number of women at the expo that day who were bigger than I was lining up to receive their hard-earned shirts. What would they be told when the volunteers glanced at them?
Unfortunately, such size discrepancy isn’t exclusive to race-wear; these days, it heads in both directions.
In my closet I have jeans that fit equally well but come in sizes spanning eight numbers. Why? Because some manufacturers have begun assigning tinier numbers to bigger measurements in order to “flatter” their customers.
Of course variations exist between brands, but I’ve got three pairs in three sizes from the same designer, purchased during different years. This inconsistency serves to simultaneously both lower and raise expectations of thinness.
It’s unproductive (physically and emotionally) for a woman working toward a healthy weight to be misled into thinking she’s prematurely reached her goal, and it’s unrealistic (physically and emotionally) for a size-6 woman to be aiming for a 2 because brands have started cutting their clothes larger.
To embrace such “vanity sizing” designers have even had to add sizes 0 and 00 to the mix; ‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
But herein lies the disconnect: We are a nation of body-loathers who, instead of getting thinner, are growing steadily more overweight. Our real-size spectrum contains dangers at both ends: eating disorders on one, obesity-related complications on the other.
We’ve made victory in this battle increasingly difficult, and if I’ve become the barometer for large, who can blame overweight women and men for feeling perpetually defeated? Conversely, in a world of inflated/deflated double-zeros, the already-thin may continue to seek ever-smaller sizes.
So in lieu of inaccurate numbers or vague S, M, L, XL designations, I’d like to see more descriptive sizes for shoppers who require inspiration with their fitness and their fit – big blank tags that we can fill in for ourselves.
Picture a new mom wearing a size Hooray! I can see my toes again!
During the holidays we’d choose It’s Thanksgiving. Waistbands can suck it.
And then switch to New Year, New Body. Go!
Maybe one of these sizes would apply to you: Thanks for the good metabolism, Mom. Or Thanks! I work my ass off at the gym for this body.
How about this size as a goal: My partner thinks I’m sexy and I’m trying to believe.
Now it’s your turn. If you could, what description would you write onto the blank tags of your clothes? If they were being honest, my pants would admit this:
I often eat healthfully. Sometimes I eat cake.
I know. It is a mouthful.
Of the most delicious kind.
Julie C. Gardner is a lapsed English teacher, an aspiring author and an accomplished lover of tortilla chips. You can follow @juliecgardner on Twitter or at her blog, By Any Other Name, where she writes about family, shares her writing journey and strives to make light of life on a weekly basis.