Does the lack of clothing standards affect women’s self esteem?

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What is Vanity Sizing?

These days, for most of us, a woman’s self esteem takes a battering every time you go clothes shopping. With this in mind it’s finally the weekend and you are dreading the thought of hitting the shops! Your wardrobe needs some new life so you’re planning to add a few new pieces to spice things up. You head to the shopping centre, ready to shop til you drop, only to find after trying on your first dress, you’re left feeling defeated. The dress you came to the mall in says it’s a size 8. The new size 8 dress you’ve just tried on won’t even make it past your hips.

non standard clothes sizing
clothing sizes through the ages

So you’re feeling a bit discouraged, but you decide to look around at another store. You find another killer dress and snatch the last size 8. You strut confidently into the dressing room only to quickly realize that this dress is too big. Not only does this dress make it over your hips, but you’re swimming in it! For most women, this situation probably sounds all too familiar.

Situations like this happen so often nowadays that vanity sizing has become normalized. Most women expect when they buy the perfect pair of jeans at one store, they need to buy a pair two sizes bigger at another.

If you’re unfamiliar with vanity sizing, it’s a practice of putting smaller size tags on clothes than what they should be in order to facilitate more sales. While studies have shown that vanity sizing can increase women’s self esteem because it appears that they wear a smaller size than they really do, it actually perpetuates the lack of clothing industry standards and inconsistent sizing dilemma.

Does Vanity Sizing have a lot to answer for?

These factors both contribute to damaged women’s body image and low self esteem. Rather than design clothes that would fit their real customers, retailers are now often creating clothes for their ideal customers. However, there is usually quite a large difference between a retailer’s ideal customer and their real customer- which, if their target audience is the average-sized Australian woman, is a size 14 to 16. The lack of clothing industry standards and inconsistent sizing means that more often than not, an average-sized Australian woman can’t even find a size that will fit her in most clothing stores, unless they have a plus-sized section- or unless the store partakes in vanity sizing and she fits into a size 10 or 12.

The lack of clothing industry standards undoubtedly negatively affects women’s self esteem. Just think about the mental and physical exhaustion that comes from shopping for hours. Then add in the frustration from having to guess what your size was in each store you walked into. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between clothing size and self esteem. Due to the lack of clothing industry standards, vanity sizing and inconsistent sizing, women’s self esteem levels are constantly fluctuating. When they see a small size tag, they’ll get excited. However when they see a large size tag, they’ll often become depressed due to societal pressures to be thin.

The best solution to increase women’s self esteem and accessibility to clothing would be to implement a standardized clothing industry sizing chart. By discouraging vanity sizing, along with all types of inconsistent sizing, and embracing an accurate, standardized clothing size chart, women’s self esteem will no longer be so low.

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