Vanity Sizing: Reinforcing Harmful Beauty Standards

Vanity Sizing: Reinforcing Harmful Beauty Standards

Quinn Kennedy, Editorials

Being able to wear the same size in every store should not be too much to ask. Unfortunately for people everywhere, especially women, stores seem to ignore this. When trying something on that should in theory be their size, people are left with three scenarios. They either cram themselves into something that is too tight, get lost in something too baggy, or miraculously, the garment they’re trying on actually fits. Though the third scenario should be the only result, stores continue to mislabel their clothing. One may ask, why would stores do this?

The main culprit for these sizing issues is vanity sizing. Vanity sizing is when the size of an article of clothing is artificially manufactured, usually to a smaller number. For example, a dress that is actually a size 8 could be lowered to a size 6, to make someone feel slimmer than they actually are. Vanity sizing has gradually been happening over time for decades. A notable example of this is the fact that in the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe would have been considered a size 12, but today she would be a either a size 6 or 8, according to Vox. Furthermore, smaller sizes such as 0 and 00 have been added to accommodate this downward shift in sizing. Though it may seem like vanity sizing only makes shopping inconvenient, especially vintage shopping, this harmful retail technique can cause much bigger issues.

In many countries, especially in the Western world, it has been perpetuated that being smaller is better, and vanity sizing only reinforces that belief. Instead of making someone believe that they are smaller to make them feel more confident, why doesn’t society just teach people to feel confident in the size they actually are? Forcing beauty standards on women can lead to self-esteem issues, especially for larger women and young girls. Also, retailers aren’t marking down sizes with the purest intentions, though this is not much of a surprise considering that their main goal is to profit. By marking down sizes to make women feel thinner than they are, retailers believe that this causes people to want to shop at their store more often because the lowered sizing makes them feel better about the product and themselves.

Smaller is better is not the message we should be giving women — or anyone for the matter — especially since according to Eating Disorder Hope, 70 million people suffer from an eating disorder. Retailers are only reinforcing damaging beauty stereotypes by vanity sizing that not only cause emotional pain, but could also lead to health issues. Ultimately, instead of promoting one body type, society should be teaching people to love their body, whether they are a size 2 or 22.