How Vanity Sizing is Killing Your Self Esteem


The topic of vanity sizes has been on my mind for quite some time. I actually started writing this post back in April and forgot about it. Then I stumbled across this article in The Hollywood Reporter. It’s all about the origin of size zero clothing and the wild world of vanity sizing. It struck a nerve with me. Perhaps its because I work as a personal stylist for real women every day and size related meltdowns and confusion are a regular occurrence. Either a woman has too closely identified her size with her self worth OR she has no idea what size she wears! Here is a real life scenario …

Me: What size you do wear?

Note that I also measure all of my clients because sizes lie but a measuring tape does not.

Client: I wear a size 6

Me: Okay, lets take a look in your closet  …

What do I see? I see a closet full of J. Crew and Gap who are both notorious for vanity sizing. Well, this client is ready for an upgrade. She just got a promotion and her J. Crew and Gap wardrobe from 5 years ago don’t reflect who she is or the budget she is working with today. The problem is, the new clothes that I plan on putting her in aren’t sized as generously. So instead of a 6, we’re looking more at a size 8 or even a 10. Do you think my client is going to be excited about suddenly “gaining” weight? Who is ever about going up a size? Cue the meltdown. Well actually not on my watch. I teach my clients that the size in tag doesn’t mean a thing and if I know they won’t believe me, I hide the tag. The psychological mind-fuck involved in seeing a size 10 instead a size 6 isn’t going to happen during one of my styling sessions.

So why do brands do this to us? Look at how torturous it is! The reason they do it is because when you reverse the scenario the results are a lot more glorious. Fitting into a size 0 when you are really a size 4 gives you a rush (good for the customer) and that rush typically results in a purchase (good for the company).

To me this is nonsense and the madness needs to stop. Can we get some standardized sizing in the house? Clearly that isn’t going to happen anytime soon but you can do a few things to protect yourself from the punch in the gut you self-esteem experiences every time you go shopping.

Get to Know Your Body

A lot of people use the size of their clothing as a marker for weigh loss and weigh gain. Stop doing that. Standardized sizing doesn’t exist so suddenly fitting into a size 2 doesn’t necessarily mean you lost weight, nor wearing a size 6 mean you gained weight. Take your measurements and take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror (naked) – THAT should be your benchmark.

Become Size Blind

This is easier said than done but start training yourself to become size-blind. Once you know how clothes are supposed to fit, then becoming size blind becomes a lot easier. If something fits and look incredible on you, the number on that tag won’t even matter.

Cut It Out

I know, I know EVERYBODY says this but, seriously, give it a try. Once you’ve purchased the garment and brought it home, cut the darn tag out. I guarantee after a week or so has passed you won’t ever remember the size.

Learn Your Brands

Try on a variety of brands and get to know how they are cut (or hire a stylist who knows that info like the back of her hand). Knowledge is power, my friends. Once you know that H&M is totally full of shit when it comes to their sizes, then you won’t care if you wear a size 2 or a size 12.

How do you feel about vanity sizing? Sound off in the comments below or join the conversation already in progress on my Facebook page.


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