So yesterday I was super excited when I got notification to say my H&M parcel had been delivered. Well no, that’s not exactly true because the email came from Hermes and I knew that there was a strong possibility that my parcel would be closer to the moon than my letter box, but that’s not what this is about.
I had ordered three items from H&M: a ladies t-shirt, size ‘S’, a pair of mom jeans, size 12 – because I’m a 10-12 and I figured I’d size up because jeans can be notoriously tricky to get right – and a hoodie from the kids section, aged ’14+’ – because I loved it, I’m quite petite so there was a possibility it would fit me, and I figured worst case scenario I’d just return it. Quite a mixed bag, right? Well, I figured I had a pretty good chance with everything fitting.
The first thing I thought I should try on was the kids hoodie, and I was super pumped to find that it fit me perfectly, yay! From the photo on the website, it was supposed to be a loose-fit style for kids, and it was a little more fitted on me, but it definitely didn’t look like I’d squeezed myself into a kids shirt. Win. I had no worries about the t-shirt fitting, but if anything it was a little looser than I expected, and then there were the jeans..
Remember how I said that I sized up? From the moment I stepped into them, I just knew that they weren’t going to fit. Despite being ‘mom jeans’, they just barely made it over my thighs, and there was absolutely no chance of them doing up. So tell me, why can I fit into a kids size item, and then not an adult size from the same store?
But this isn’t just about me complaining about my H&M order, this is about what high street stores are doing to girls and women every day. The industry is typically infamous for producing unrealistic body expectations with the use of tiny models, photoshop and various other things that make the average woman feel like a slug, but even if you take away all of these things, you’re still left with something that can be potentially so harmful, and that is the massive discrepancy between the supposed same sizes, not just between different brands, but even within the same store.
Let me put it this way: I bought those jeans a size bigger than what I am, and the size bigger than what I am did not fit me. Some of the thoughts that instantly go through my head are ‘oh my gosh, is it me?’, ‘have I gained weight without noticing?’, ‘could I actually be 2 or even 3 sizes bigger than I think I am?’. After this flood of negative thoughts about my own body, I talk myself down and remember that H&M is particularly infamous for big sizing issues, but before I could get to that explanation, I spent a few minutes feeling like absolute crap.
One time, I bought two pairs of skinny jeans from New Look – both size 10. One pair was a good fit, although actually a little looser in some places. I still have those jeans to this day. The other pair wouldn’t even go up my calf. My arm barely fit into them. Same number on the label, same shop, two completely different actual sizes.
I mean, I get that it might be completely possible to have a totally unified system, for whatever stupid reason the stores always give when challenged on this, but its not the fact that I can vary from a size 8-14 depending on where I’m shopping – I can live with that – its what this does to my confidence. Even Asos now has a ‘size recommendation’ feature, which is designed to give you a better idea of what you should order based on your personal details and previous purchases, and when I first saw it, I thought ‘hey, what a great idea!’ Well, that was until one time I saw something that I liked, selected my size, and the little message popped up saying, and I paraphrase, ‘um, you’re probably not gonna fit into that, why don’t you get the next size up?’ – yes I exaggerated what was actually said, but it actually made me feel so bad about myself that I just stopped shopping and closed the window.
In case I haven’t made my point clear enough – this is damaging. Brands can use all the curvy, un-edited models in the world, but if the size of their products doesn’t reflect some sort of consistency, girls and women everywhere are still going to be subject to the effects that the fashion industry has on body image.