“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photo credit: David Pecka
After perusing racks upon racks of jumbled clearance tops mixed in with pants, skirts, and the occasional piece that you aren’t sure what body part it goes on, you finally find that top in your size. Maybe you even had the luck and foresight to find it in the next size up, just in case. So you trek back to whatever distant corner the dressing room is hidden in, maybe wait in line a bit, and get into a stall stacked with the remnants of others’ shopping excursions. There probably isn’t room to put your purse, or your own clothes. You try on what you thought was your size and you are swimming in it. Or maybe it’s so tight you can’t even pull it down around your shoulders. Whichever it is, it’s most likely fitting in the opposite direction of whatever backup size you were able to find. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a shopping partner to go seek out the correct size, or maybe you just have to reverse your steps back to the beginning and start all over. Even if you can find the mystery size, by the time you make it all the way back to the dressing room, is it even worth it anymore? Nah. I didn’t really like it that much anyway.
Whether it’s vanity sizing, complete ambiguity of sizes as they relate to your measurements, or extreme inconsistency from brand to brand, women’s clothing really tans my hide. And don’t even get me started on pockets, or lack thereof, in women’s pants.
My husband has it easy. He checks his measurements, which by the way never change, and buys clothes that match those numbers; I, however, do not have it so easy and I have so many questions. Why can’t women’s sizes work the same way? Why isn’t there any correlation between the circumference of my hips and the number on those itchy tags? Even if those numbers were proportional, why would there be a zero? Or, for that matter, a double zero? What is that, half of nothing? Twice nothing? What does that even mean? And why are buttons on the opposite sides of our pants and shirts from men’s clothing?
This one I actually know the answer to and it really pisses me off.
This is a custom dating back to basically ancient times when well-to-do ladies had people to dress them. Yup. It’s opposite so that the primarily right-handed population could button up your shirt for you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know any woman who has someone to dress them in the morning. Why are we okay continuing to base an entire industry on the idea that women are incapable of dressing themselves? Now, I know some people need help, and honestly, after that whole ordeal in the dressing room I could use some too, but is this premise something that we need to proliferate? If you ask me, I think we have enough footing to make up without the daily, or twice daily, or however many outfit changes you make per day number of times reminder that we are somehow feebler or incompetent compared to our male counterparts.
This is all after we’ve gone through the emotional roller coaster of trying on four different sizes to see what you wear in this particular store, only to put everything back because the designer failed to account for the myriad of different shapes that women come in. Yes, there are shapes not just sizes. Shocking to some of you, I know. To the rest of us, this is just every day life. Maybe this is a metaphor, the universe trying to make us more flexible and adaptable to constantly changing circumstances. To me, however, it is simply an unnecessary obstacle and a reminder that someone, somewhere will always be trying to push you down or overcomplicate your life in order to maintain their status quo.
It’s not necessarily the act of maintaining this ridiculous left-handed buttoning paradigm. I don’t believe the fashion industry is trying to repress us by forcing us all to continue wearing backwards clothing. It’s the fact that no one thinks about it, no one considers the meaning behind some of the smallest pieces of our lives. We all just blindly continue on, accepting that clothes shopping, a necessary (and in my opinion) evil, will always be difficult in so many ways, whether it’s finding clothes you like, finding clothes that fit, remembering the size you wear at each store you shop at, or literally just putting those clothes on. Because apparently, as the “weaker” sex, we are too sensitive to have our clothing sizes be the same as our measurements. That somehow seeing those sizes that society says are too big, or aren’t beautiful, would destroy our delicate natures. I am approximately 4.3% ice cream at any given time and I am here to tell you that we can take it. Just make it easier for us to clothe ourselves. Just a little. And while you are at it, give us some deeper pockets for God’s sake. Not everything fits in our purses.