What size is this again?

There’s nothing like a shopping trip to send someone with body image issues and low self-esteem into major meltdown mode. As much as I absolutely LOVE shopping (usually for make-up and beauty products), I felt that a lot of the time when I went shopping for clothes I would come home feeling deflated and upset and hating my body even more. Nothing ever looked how I wanted it to. Nothing ever seemed to fit right. I constantly blamed my ‘awkward’ body, because after all, it couldn’t be the stores fault, could it? It had to be me.

I ended up with wardrobes full of clothes I hardly ever, or never, wore. Lots of impulse buys. Lots of ‘when my legs look a bit thinner I’ll wear that loads’ buys. Lots of ‘maybe if I go to <insert somewhere I would 99.9% be unlikely to go to> I may need this’ buys. When I moved here a few years ago I had a huge clear out. There was an immense amount of clothes, shoes, bags and accessories that went to the charity shop! I still kept a fair few items and over the years these naturally built up again. Recently, I decided I needed a clear out and had a major wardrobe sort out.

Given I’d had another huge clearout, I wanted to get some more clothes which I actually felt good in. I’d picked up some bits and pieces and had to do the usual adjusting the length etc, but it wasn’t until I was trying things on during a trip to Meadowhall a few weekends ago that it hit me – we all know there is no consistency in sizing at all across the high street, but it’s now inconsistency in individual stores too.

So, I’m 5′ 2.5″ (if we are being precise!) and a size UK6. I didn’t take photos of everything I tried on (I was sending them to my husband stood outside the changing rooms with the kids for his opinion!) but for example, take this playsuit. It’s a size UK4 from a Petite range designed for women of 5′ 3″ and under. I had room in the body, the bust and arms and across the back. The zip did up fine. I could breathe! However, I felt like it was going to cut me in half as it was so short in the body – my camel toe had camel toe! How could this possibly be, given it’s in a range designed for women up to half an inch taller than me? I didn’t buy it.

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In the same store I tried this outfit on, the top is a standard size UK6. It was fine, with room. The skirt was a UK6 from the Petite range. I had to breathe in to get the zip up on this (though I’m not breathing in on the photo and felt like it was slightly digging in). But I’d just been in a UK4 Petite playsuit which did up fine and I could breathe in. I didn’t buy the outfit.

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Next, whilst I was in there I tried on this dress which was a UK6 from the Petite range. I felt like I was wearing a maternity dress. (You can see from my face I’m less than impressed!). It was baggy where it should have been fitted. I felt it was too long to be flattering on a petite height. The waist was cut too high and it just felt too big. Yet I’d just struggled to do up something in a size UK6. I didn’t buy it.

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In another store I tried on some sports kit in a UK6. The leggings were a little big. The vest was far too small.

I then tried on a few dresses. I actually wish I’d taken photos of them now so you could see the ridiculous difference in sizing. All standard sizing. First dress was enormous. It was a UK4. The next dress was a UK6. Way too tight. This lightweight jumper and shorts combo were both a UK6. Shorts fit ok on the waist but a little long on the leg so not flattering, jumper was ok too.

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I couldn’t get over how different each size fit even when in individual stores. I know that you should never base your worth on your clothes size and the size on the label really shouldn’t matter, but when you struggle with these things it just doesn’t help at all. If someone with body issues feels comfortable with themselves at a certain size, it can be a real trigger when going into a store and grabbing a load of items in that size to find half of them don’t fit. I actually heard a girl in one changing room really upset because she couldn’t get a pair of size 10 jeans on.  Her friend tried to reassure her that the sizing was ‘always funny’ and kept asking her if she was sure she picked up the right size as sometimes they’re on the wrong hangers. She just kept replying “but I’m always a 10, have I put weight on do you think?”. I wish stores were more consistent. But I guess that’s where the whole self love thing comes into it. I know I need to care less about the size of my body and size of my clothes and just love myself for how I am and how I look in whatever size that fits well – no matter what that size may be.

Needless to say though, I didn’t pick up many bits that day but that just means I’ve got another shopping trip challenge to face and conquer.

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