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Inconsistency of Women’s Clothing Size, Body Image and Self-Esteem

I recently went shopping at Cotton On and was excited to find a pair of pants that had cut that I was looking for. Being the typical US size 8 in Cotton On, I took my size as well as a US size 10 just for good measure and headed into the dressing room. However, to my dismay, my usual size was too tight for my liking and the US size 10 just hung off my hips. This was ironic as the pair of shorts that I was wearing at that moment was a US size 8 from Cotton On. While I have had issues with sizing inconsistency, having not shopped for pants for quite a while, this encounter in Cotton On has led me to relive my nightmares with sizing inconsistencies and body image issues. When my issue with my body image was at its worst, anytime I went up a size, I would be seized with panic and felt that I had put on so much weight. This led to the never-ending cycle of dieting. I am not stating that sizing inconsistencies are the sole cause of my body image issues, but they definitely worsened it. 

However, what I have come to realise over the years is that sizes can differ from brand to brand, as well as within the same brand itself. You could be a certain size in one brand and another in the next, or as stated above, according to how the clothes are made and their cut, sizing can vary even within clothes of the same brand. Therefore, when you seem to have gone up a size when trying on new clothes, it could just be the inconsistencies in sizing that are tricking your brain into thinking that you have put on weight. 

This is not to say that I did not feel the sudden urge to berate myself for “gaining” weight that day. Despite knowing that sizing inconsistencies happen, whenever I encounter such issues, I will definitely look at my body in an unfavourable light. Whenever this occurs, I will remind myself that there is not a standard measurement for sizing across the board and I should not let such sizes decide the way I feel about and see my body. Instead of fitting the clothes, the clothes should fit me.

Moreover, if I allow such sizes to dictate the worth of my body, I am effectively ignoring what my body has allowed me to accomplish throughout my life thus far. It has allowed me to go on grocery runs with my parents, spending quality time with them. It has allowed me to attend school to broaden my horizons. In essence, my body has allowed me to do a plethora of amazing things. We should treat our bodies with respect for the number of things it has allowed us to achieve. 

Even if you have gained weight, there is nothing to be ashamed about. Gaining weight is part and parcel of life. We are never going to be the same weight throughout our entire life and we are never going to be the same clothing size. Instead of feeling the pressure to fit into a certain body aesthetic, we should be appreciative of our bodies for letting us live life to the fullest. At the end of the day, when one approaches death, the regrets that we have won’t be about not achieving a certain body type, but the things that we did not accomplish due to our obsessive need to be #bodygoals.

Lee Ann Foo

Nanyang Tech '22

A Year 4 English Literature and Art History student, Lee Ann relies on black coffee as well as listening to crime podcasts to finish assignments. On a really bad day, she can drink up to 4 cups of iced black coffee.
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