I am more than my size on the tag title

Real talk time (as always around here.) Have you ever not bought a great dress because you fit better in a size up than you normally wear? Have you ever felt a huge hurray when you can squeeze into a smaller size than usual? Have you ever felt like an outcast because you have to shop in the plus size or petite area, and can’t “fit in” with your straight sized friends? Or, have you ever felt upset that you have sizes all over the spectrum in your panty, jean, or bra drawer? I hear you. I HEAR YOU. So let’s talk about it.

I remember my Mom asking what size jeans I was wearing when I was in high school, and I replied “These are a size 4”. And she looked surprised, and noted, “Huh. I could never wear anything below a size 8 when I was your age.” I am physically my mom’s almost-clone. Pictures of her in her 20s and pictures of me in my 20s look eerily similar. Our faces, our smiles, our long, lean bodies. In fact, when we compared numbers like weight, she actually weighed less than me. But when we compared numbers like pant size, her number was higher. It’s no secret that clothing sizes have changed over the years, mostly down to “trick” women into thinking that they wear a smaller size. The whole concept of vanity sizing is to give in to our tendency to think smaller and thinner equals more worthy, maybe even more healthy, and certainly more attractive. In general, that size on the tag determines how “good” or “bad” we are. At least that’s the story we’re telling ourselves.

That includes me. I felt “good” when my mom said that she wore a bigger size. It felt like a compliment. And it felt “good” when I could shop at a store where I could fit into a size 2. Out loud, to my friends, I’d say “It’s insane that I can fit into a size 2. That shouldn’t be possible. Something must be wrong with their sizing!” And inside, I was thinking “Hurray! Look at me! That 2 means I’m skinny and pretty and cool.” And the converse was true, too. When I would go shopping and needed to size up from my typical 4 to a 6, my heart sank. “Shit.” I thought. “Maybe this means I’m gaining weight. Which means I’m not eating right. Which means I’m being lazy, and not taking care of myself, and now I’m on a path of looking and feeling like crap. Awesome.” That kind of self loathing went on in my head. But I also shared it out loud with my gal pals. Especially when they’d give me their hand me down clothes and say “This size 6 is too big for me. It should fit you” or “I wore this Medium when I was pregnant, but it should fit you now.” Note: I was not pregnant. I was just bigger than them. And bigger felt bad. It felt like I was too much.

That kind of girlfriend talk also goes the other way. In fact, this came up in my recent appearance on The Racheal Ray Show. Rachael expressed what a mentor of mine calls “boob envy”. It’s common. She’s not alone. In our segment together, she said she “got stuck at a B cup”. And when I showed her the several sizes I can wear, she said “You went all the way up to an F cup. Good for you!” That kind of girlfriend talk is very common. And we – Rachael included – do it without really thinking about what we’re doing. We’re not really complimenting our friends when we say “You can wear a 30F? Good for you!” or “Those jeans are a 2? You are awesome!” What we are doing is placing value – their value as a good or bad, attractive or unattractive person – on the number inside their bra or jeans. What if we placed value in their being, on their heart, on their hugs and bravery for being vulnerable, on their sheer existence as a human being in this crazy world. When I’d lament to my girlfriends or compliment their numbers, and they’d do the same, we called it “relating” and “bonding”. But really we were just encouraging each other to use that number as a definition of our self worth. I think it’s time we upgrade those conversations.

One of the key aspects of the #MoreThanMyNumbers project is learning to use numbers as information, and not a definition. Essentially, that means knowing numbers but not holding any attachment to them. And that includes that size on the tag of your jeans, your bra, your panties, or your dress. What does it look like to use a number as information and not a definition? In this case:

  • Taking notice of how something fits and feels, and adjusting the size up or down without a feeling of dread or over zealous celebration.
  • Taking notice of how fit is shifting and using that to inform you how your current health goals are going, without judgement.
  • Taking your bra measurements and calculating your starting points without fear of what the number and letter will “mean” about you.
  • Being you, and not comparing your beauty or worth to anyone else – based on a number or anything else.
  • Choosing to wear what makes you say hurray based on how it fits, feels, and looks – not what the tag says.

In my own journey to say I am More Than My Size on the Tag, I had a recent hurray! I was shopping at a second hand shop in my neighborhood, and items from all different brands and shops were displayed together. According to the number (0, 2, 4, etc) or the letter (XS, Sm, M, L, etc) they were organized into Small, Medium, or Large sections. I was shopping for a dress to wear for that appearance on The Rachael Ray show. I wanted to wear something fresh, fun, and cute. I noticed a pretty green dress and pulled it from the rack, and it looked exactly like my style and size! I had noticed that it was in the Large section. After looking inside to find the price, I saw the tag and my eyes bulged. “12? What? How can this possibly be a 12?”

For like a MOMENT I thought I shouldn’t buy it because “I’m not a size 12”. I thought it would be out of place in my closet, and would be odd to wear, because … it didn’t match the picture I have in my head of myself. Yikes. I didn’t feel like I judged someone else who would wear a 12. But I was certainly judging myself. This reminded me of people I’ve fit for bras. Some would look at me and say, “I refuse to wear a D cup.” For real. In that fitting room I would take a deep breath and say “OK. Well, I’ll just fit you into whatever fits. Let’s see how the bra fits and how you feel in it first. And then we’ll talk about the size. Cool?”

And inside I knew she had an image in her mind of “what someone who wears a D cup bra size” looks like. And that image did not match the image she had of herself. It’s because the size on the tag “meant something” about her identity. But I knew otherwise. The number and the letter were not a reflection of who she really is, that is was just the size of the undergarment that fit her best in that particular bra. (As you may know, more than one bra size can fit, in fact!) And that based on her band size and the sizing method of the company, the D cup or up may just be the ticket to feeling awesome and looking her best. So why would that number matter? I remembered these women, and the joy they felt when they finally let go of that size on the tag as a definition of who she was, and said “I am #MoreThanMyNumbers” and bought and wore the item that FIT best and FELT great.

{Update. A colleague of mine mentioned something shocking. She said: “You look much bigger on camera. It surprised me because I see you in person all the time, and you look much skinnier in person.” Had I not already made peace with that size on the tag, and taken loving steps to love my body as it is, I could have been extremely wounded by such a thoughtless comment. Instead, I recognized the lack of love she feels for her own beautiful body, and that it wasn’t really about me and mine. I think I looked great! And I hope she learns that she is lovely, too.}

Kimmay in green dress Rachael Ray

Lesson learned. I wore that dress on The Rachael Ray show. And the tag said 12. And it looked AMAZING. And I felt fantastic. I got so many compliments (thanks for tuning in, by the way!) on my presentation on the show AND … on the dress. This may just be a dress. And I may just be talking about the size on a tag, but it goes so much deeper than that. Letting go of a number as a definition of myself is a step toward loving and accepting myself a little more each day. I am not a size 12. Nor am I a size 4. I happen to wear those sizes. Who I am is so much more. I am #MoreThanMyNumbers.

Wear what fits MTMN

It can be tough to let go the attachment we see in our numbers. I know. And oh so worth it. Once you let go of that definition, there is freedom, permission to be your full self, and less stress and worry. We are all on this journey together. And I’ve invited a few Hurray Kimmay readers, friends, and colleagues to share their views, too. Take a look below!

 

seryna circle

I’ve been a plus size woman my entire adult life, rocking a size 22 bod and a bust that borders on impossible to dress. While I love the liberating feeling of stepping into a plus size shop and knowing nothing is “off the menu” for me, on the few occasions where I’ve been in mixed sized shops and was able to shop with my friends, I’ve been over the moon. Some of them still have a size segregation, (plus in one corner, petite in the other and the rest straight sizes) but just being able to make shopping social again feels really really good, and I wish it happened more often.

Seryna Myers, age 36, dress size 22, bra size 42M

Gina Bell circle

My number is 6-16. I have made peace with the wide array of numbers that call my closet their home. That wasn’t always the case. My teenage daughters and I swap clothes all the time and I just love how they are free to be whatever number they are wearing in that moment. The 0’s I wore in high school were once crying out for me to learn how to love my beautiful body no matter the size. I hope my daughters know their gorgeous hearts say it all!

Gina Bell, size 6-16

beth johnston circle

My number changes so I am not tied to a number. I am all about comfort so if the underwear size is L and I am comfortable, that works for me. Women get hung up on numbers when they shouldn’t be. There are so many brands where I wear different sizes that if I worried about a number I would drive myself crazy and limit my choices. My number doesn’t define me, my heart is who I am.

Beth Johnston

suzette arce circle

I hate panty shopping! Once you get to a certain size your options go way down in terms of style. I guess stores think bigger girls don’t want to look or feel stylish or sexy. And the fact that size varies so much from store to store. I usually start at XL. Thats when you start seeing a sea of beige grannie panties. Why doesn’t the industry have standard sizing? Once you get comfortable with your size, the size changes wildly from store to store! If I’m a 12 (or a 2 or a 20) in one store, i should fit in that size anywhere!!

-Suzette Arce

kelly ahl circle

I remember going shopping with my mom and she pointed out that I was no longer a medium anymore and had to start shopping in the Large section. I was devastated. So much in fact I had a panic attack and hid within the clothing rack. As a young girl I taught myself to believe that the tag defined me and if I was a “Large” something about me was wrong, that I was too much. Now I realize how far from the truth that is. The letter or number on a tag is simply a way for me to decipher which article of clothing will best help me express who I am and rock the skin I’m in.

Kelly Ahl, Size 10-12

I’ve never actually struggled with my numbers. Even in high school when I was 20 pounds heavier than I am now, I never really had any feelings about my numbers. I’m not sure what made me that way. Some people would say it’s because I’m the ideal size. And I think about that constantly–how grateful, and sometimes how guilty I feel, for naturally being a size that most women want to be. I don’t exercise much, and I don’t eat well, so sometimes it feels like I don’t deserve to be this size. But I know it’s not just my size that makes me feel okay with my numbers.

My best friend was anorexic and then bulimic in high school. She and I have always been total opposites, but this was one opposite I really struggled with. We have always been nearly the same size, and that made it hard for me to understand what she was going through. When she would come over and want to go swimming, I would offer her my bathing suit and she would laugh at me. Then she would put it on and say she felt so embarrassed, but to me it looked like the bathing suit fit fine. We bought clothes one size off from each other, and even when she put my clothes on, they fit, but somehow she could look at the number and feel like it wasn’t good enough. She felt like I was good enough; she never judged my weight.

It scares me to realize that there’s no sense of “enough” when it comes to losing weight. The smaller you can get, the better. And I don’t know how to respond to that feeling, because I’ve never felt it. But I’m not a better person for feeling okay with my size, and I’m not a worse person for being a size that other women want to be. I’m just a person. I’m bold and hilarious and ridiculous. And I hope my best friend knows that when she puts on that bathing suit and asks me how I don’t see that it’s way too small on her, it’s because all I can see is a girl who’s strong and smart and stubborn as hell, and who I am hating for making me go in a freezing cold swimming pool in May, but I hope she never lets a number stop her from stripping down and jumping in.

-Kimberly S.

Some GREAT points made here. Especially when it comes to shopping for garments in “size specific” stores, or sections in a store. Something, I admit, as a straight sized person, I’ve never had to think about. Sometimes, it makes sense for a brand to dedicate their efforts to a certain size range. Maybe they can serve that size range really well by focusing on just those sizes. Brands do this with bras all the time. There are A-C cup only companies, and D cup and up only companies, and mainstream (B-DD) sized brands all over the place. And clothing is often segregated between straight sizes, petite, and plus size. But what if you could shop someplace knowing that no matter your size, the brand makes every style for you. That would be pretty cool, right?

MTMN size on the tag

That’s one of the concepts of Knickerluxe. This company makes premium, comfortable underwear, bralettes, and basic tanks and tops in sizes XS-4XL. Every. Single. Style. In fact, when designer and owner, Sophie, creates a style and pattern, if it doesn’t fit well on a person of each size, she doesn’t put it into production. End of story. Isn’t that wild?! She wants to create “a new way to explore yourself and not have that number in the back of your mind.” I’m in. I’m so in.

When I asked her more about this, she went on to say: “I want knicker shopping to be empowering and uplifting. I wanted to create a company that says: “You’re a woman? Come. We’ve got you covered.” When it comes to numbers, Sophie is pretty blunt. “I don’t want women to categorize themselves in such an uncreative way. We are so much more than numbers. We are fluid and dynamic.” I agree. 100%. 

So, don’t let a number on your tag, or the size on your label categorize, pigeonhole, or box you in. Be your full self. Be all of you.

***

Your turn: Have you ever struggled with the size on your tag? What makes it hard or easy for you to let go of the attachment to those numbers? Do you find that you have to shop in a “speciality size” section, and how does that feel? Leave a comment below and share your journey with us!

A few ideas for practicing what we talked about today:

  • Put on a pair of undies in whatever size fits and shake it!
  • Take your measurements and find your bra size starting points
  • Make your closet a safe place, where all numbers are welcome
  • Encourage your friends to see beyond their and your numbers

xoxo kimmay

Sponsor spotlight: Hurray for Knickerluxe for making this More Than My Numbers article possible!

Knickerluxe underwear logo

Do you know Knickerluxe? If not. It’s time you do. This panty company (er, sorry, “knickers”) is based in Australia and wearable anywhere. Their knickers are made using a premium lightweight Pima cotton fabric with spandex. FYI, pima is an extra long, super soft cotton yarn with comfort like no other. In other words: HURRAY. It really feels so good against your skin, so you can confidently pull a panty from the drawer, put it on in the morning, and say hurray all day.

knickerluxe items

In addition to their yummy panties, boyshorts, and thongs, this brand also makes sweet little bralettes, cool-girl tank tops, and wear-with-anything camisoles. And all from the same yummy material. YAAAAS. And, as noted above, every single style is made with sizes XS-4XL in mind. Thank you, Knickerluxe! Give them a try, and “Live Your Luxe” in pretty, comfortable, lets-you-be-YOU knickers.

Get to know Knicerluxe here:

 

Pin It on Pinterest

----------------------------------------