By Maddy Steele
No. I’m not talking about that. For years I have obsessed about fitting into the smaller sizes on the rails. My pre-teen self nearly cried with excitement when she found she could fit in size 4 shorts. My college self was determined that she would buy and wear size 6 jeans because that’s the size I felt I had to be, despite this decision causing me stomach pain every time I sat down as they dug into my belly. They were tight on my thighs, and left red marks on my skin that signified the hold that the fashion industry had claimed over me. But why do we do it?
We are told- some what indirectly- that if we are not thin we are not beautiful, if we can not fit into the smallest sizes on the market that we lack self control. We are told that by reaching double digits on our clothing labels means you have somehow failed. Failed in the face of social media’s depiction of what a woman should be. Or worse, we are allowed curves but only if we come out at the boobs and hips and suck in tight at the waist.
But, I am here to tell you to forget all of that. Take a look around you, at the people in the library, your house mates, the people that walk down the street with you. Do you know what size they wear? Do you care? The simple answer is no.
Me? Well I’m a size 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14. Yes. Depending on the store, the style, the desired fit, I wear all of these numerical categories. My body and its ability to fit into a pair of jeans can change drastically throughout the day. I can go from morning abs to mid-morning bloat in a matter of minutes then fluctuate throughout the day. Buy a size that you feel most comfortable in. Because let’s be real, unless you’re stripping and flashing about your clothes inside out, who really knows what size you wear?
Now, for me, summer time was always my most self-conscious time of year. Bikini body season puts pressure on us to have bums like Kim K, boobs like Margot Robbie and the waistline and legs of Emily Ratajkowski all whilst somehow not plummeting into a pit of hangry behaviour. But I am delighted to inform you that bikini body season is in fact coming to a close. We can once again be pleasantly happy with ourselves without the ever-pressing threat of bikini ‘perfect’ bodies strewn across adds all around us. But now, after almost a decade of growing my hair long enough to cover my body on the beach and strategic towel wrapping to the shore line, I have learnt to embrace the skin that I am in. Because believe it or not, I am happy to keep my tummy tub if it means I can have an ice cream every now and then or a dish of chocolate buttons in the evening.
Despite the convincing advertisements, a bikini bod does not come with the whole package: indispensable holidays, a hunky man massaging sun cream into your shoulders and a healthy bank account to splash cash in any store that takes your fancy. And no, you do not have to be thin to live your best life. Choose a lifestyle that you love, add healthy habits and nurture the body that comes with that. ‘Self Love’ is splashed across the media so frequently that we have almost come numb to it, but never forget the value of nurturing and accepting yourself as if you can do this, your road to happiness will be cut tenfold.
The reality of the situation is that nobody gives a shit whether you wear a size 6 or 16. They care if you’re the kind of person that’ll answer their 3am calls because they’re in a state, if you’re the person that’ll bring them flowers when they’re down or make pancakes with them in the mornings when life just isn’t going okay.
So, does it matter? The not so simple answer is yes, size does matter. It consumes us. One size doesn’t bloody fit all so we are constantly reminded of this numerical system that classifies our life choices into the ability to squeeze into a piece of fabric. It doesn’t help that the catwalks are littered with designers that choose ‘aesthetics’ over conscience for mental health with their excuses for using almost (and often severely) anorexic models being focussed on the look of the clothes on these bodies selling products.
Fashion should not, and should never be about being or fitting into a size 4 or 6. But somehow, with this mass epidemic that is social media, a woman’s self-value partly equates to the size she wears. And for what? So we can end the day with red marks on our skin from wearing clothes that are far too tight, but at least we can say we are a ‘size 6/8’. Right?
Despite the painfully convincing nature of Instagram, you do not have to be thin to live your best life. As long as you are healthy and look after yourself, then you do you. Happiness comes from appreciating the things around you that you already have.
The majority of female bodies have curves and bumps in totally unique places, so therefore you need clothes that fit your body shape. Five different size 12 tops from Topshop may fit you totally differently just because of their design and tailoring, you may need a size 10 in one and a 16 in another. Every body is different. How the hell can you expect a ‘size 12’ to be true to your body consistently from head to toe in all your items? Here’s my guide to not giving a f*ck: walk into a store, select a few sizes of whatever items make YOU feel happy. Try these on (without looking at the sizes) and buy the pieces that best suit your body shape and that you feel most comfortable in. Whalla!
If anything, I hope that this article means that when you walk into a store and begin to fall into a flurry of ‘size’, that you will think to yourself, “Does size really matter?”. And if not that, remember this: “the people that care don’t matter and the people that matter don’t care”.