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Anyone else think "vanity" sizes are part of the problem? (semi-rant)

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Old 10-21-2008, 04:13 PM   #1
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Angry Anyone else think "vanity" sizes are part of the problem? (semi-rant)

I know we've discussed vanity sizing before but, I mean really! 20 years ago I was a very nice size 10. Those "vintage" jeans I've been hauling around all this time are my real goal - whatever the scale says when I get back into them is beside the point. Except now, in a lot of brands, I'm wearing a size 6 but I still can't get those old 10's over my butt, much less zipped.

During my most recent ascent up in fatness, I never weighed myself. Mostly because I was in total denial and partly because I was rationalizing that "a size 12 isn't THAT much bigger than a 10", then "well, a size 14 isn't THAT much bigger than a 12" and so on, all the way up to a size 18. Well, the flaw in that little theory is that today's size 12 is like twice as big as yesterday's 10. I'm guessing that by the time I get my waist down to the 26" it needs to be to get back into those old jeans, I'm going to be like a 4 in todays sizing (maybe even a 2 in some brands ). I don't know about you all but, I find being 5'8" and a size 4 to be utterly ridiculous!

It sure seems to me that waistbands for a size 10 are growing by about 1/2" every 6 months. Do you think there are just hoards of other women out there who are failing to take notice of how overweight they are becoming because "I"m only one (or 2) size(s) bigger than I was when I got married"?
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:29 PM   #2
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Yes, vanity sizing is a problem.

13 years ago I was an 8. And 25 pounds lighter than I am now. And now I'm a 6 (and 5'8" like you).

I find that there are some stores that don't give into vanity sizing. Sporting goods stores are still traditional. I wear a 10 or 12 there.

I'm sure that there are a lot of women who haven't got a clue that vanity sizing exists and are probably more than happy to buy into the illusion that they are only a size or two larger than when they were in high school. Or, imagine being a smaller size than they were in high school (when in fact they have gained 20 pounds)!

One more thing. Do your vintage jeans have spandex? I don't know of many jeans these days that don't contain spandex. It sure is more forgiving (and easier to get over the butt!). In fact, the pair I have on today (Not Your Daughter's Jeans) are 4% spandex rather than the 1% that most jeans are today.
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:49 PM   #3
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I found a measurement chart a few weeks ago showing European sizing, US vanity sizing and US sizing pre-vanity sizing. (They also called it catalog sizing.)

You are correct according to the chart, a 26.5 inch waist is a 4-6 today in most things, 10 years ago was a 10-12. The article with the chart said that sizing has changed by 6 in most things, today's six is my high school 12, etc.

I didn't bookmark it and can't find it again...

I did a lot of shopping with my SIL this past week - she had gotten up to a size 18 about a year ago, compared to her size 6 in high school (about to be 30). This time she was buying sixes again and we discussed the vanity sizing concept. She first said "Yay, I'm my high school size again" but the more she looked the more she saw that wasn't there in those size sixes...
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:02 PM   #4
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Universal sizing was first attempted in the late 40's, and a ten was arbitrarily assigned to the average size. It was never meant as a "forever" measurement, but rather it was expected that every few years, like a census, the averages would be recalculated and the new averages would replace the old. A size ten would always reflect the average, whether that was smaller or larger than years past.

When you see the sizes as deviations from the average, as they were meant to be, it's not vanity sizing - it's just a newly calculated average. Assigning meaning to the size, separate from it's practical usefulness in buying clothing, is giving it a definition it was never meant to have.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
Universal sizing was first attempted in the late 40's, and a ten was arbitrarily assigned to the average size. It was never meant as a "forever" measurement, but rather it was expected that every few years, like a census, the averages would be recalculated and the new averages would replace the old. A size ten would always reflect the average, whether that was smaller or larger than years past.

When you see the sizes as deviations from the average, as they were meant to be, it's not vanity sizing - it's just a newly calculated average. Assigning meaning to the size, separate from it's practical usefulness in buying clothing, is giving it a definition it was never meant to have.
I think that's kind of sad - the "average" woman is that much larger than she used to be? Maybe it's just my age, but I still have this idea in my mind that 36,26,36 would be ideal so, should be "average". (sigh)
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:15 PM   #6
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I wish womens clothing, well maybe pants were sized like mens where you have a waist and an inseam length. It would make it easier for me to shop for stuff, especially online when you can't try something on.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by murphmitch View Post
I wish womens clothing, well maybe pants were sized like mens where you have a waist and an inseam length. It would make it easier for me to shop for stuff, especially online when you can't try something on.
Now THAT would make more sense - instead of this constant "what size am I this month" ordeal.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:17 PM   #8
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Hmm, never thought about it like that kaplods.

I just looked at a size chart on a retail website and it listed a size 10 as 36.5" bust, 28.5" waist, 39" hips. So, that would be the current average woman's dimensions today? Makes sense when you think about it. I'm listing women I know in my head right now and there is a decent mix of larger and smaller, that could be the midpoint for even my small sample group.

Edit: Yes, it would be easier if women's clothes went by measurements like men's... Sigh...
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:18 PM   #9
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I think that "Ideal" and "Average" have been diverging, too - it isn't like the same thing that was considered "ideal" 50 years ago is ideal today.

Today's ideal is a size 00-2, tall, and near the bottom of the healthy BMI range. The ideal also tends to be less "hourglass" than the figure described previously as "ideal" measurements.

As such, the old "Ideal" and "Average" were close together...but now? Most women will physically never get to "Ideal", even if they get to a healthy, sustainable weight.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:29 PM   #10
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Ah, but what Mand is talking about is the ideal in other women's eyes (Or our own...). NOT necessarily the ideal in a partner's eyes (Be the partner male or female...). If you ask most men, the ideal is NOT a 00-2. Far from it. They may like fit, healthy women, but the average man likes a lot more curves than the 00's have to offer. It is just US, that crave some unattainable ideal for ourselves. I think I'm past that now. In fact, I used to be a size two, but that is NOT what I'm aiming for now -- I think my little post-baby belly and flared hips are pretty sexy. I look like a woman. So I'll keep my vanity Size 8 me, or perhaps Size 6 if I drop those last four or so pounds, and forget about the Size 2 me -- she was so skinny that she often had skin trouble from too much lean muscle mass versus body fat (teenage boy acne syndrome). I'm happy to be able to climb hills without huffing and the great muscle definition in my upper arms.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:38 PM   #11
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"Ideal" being roughly defined as "the body type that is presented in media sources and in fashion as the standard for desirability". I do know quite a few men (younger ones, mostly) who call girls above a size 2 "fat" and only want skinny girls...which makes sense from a SOCIAL standpoint (if I get the "stereotypically hot" chick, it proves I'm super-great and will increase my social standing) but not an EVOLUTIONARY standpoint (The less-hourglass-shaped women who are idealized in the media don't have the typical visual indicators of fertility...they tend to be, in particular, thinner-hipped than more fertile women).
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:19 PM   #12
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Gap is the WORST with vanity sizing... ooorrr the best because I fit into their smaller sizes...

I have a pair of size 14 jeans from the gap I bought a few years ago.. they fit... albeit a TAD snug... but definitely wearable...

BUT... the other day, I fit into size TEN jeans at the gap.. and they fit about the same as the 14s from a few years ago... TOTAL vanity sizing happening there...
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
"Ideal" being roughly defined as "the body type that is presented in media sources and in fashion as the standard for desirability". I do know quite a few men (younger ones, mostly) who call girls above a size 2 "fat" and only want skinny girls...which makes sense from a SOCIAL standpoint (if I get the "stereotypically hot" chick, it proves I'm super-great and will increase my social standing) but not an EVOLUTIONARY standpoint (The less-hourglass-shaped women who are idealized in the media don't have the typical visual indicators of fertility...they tend to be, in particular, thinner-hipped than more fertile women).
Yes, but what they want to hang out with as singles and what they choose to marry are often different. I do think they tend to pick the "curvier" women with all those outward "fertility" indicators to "hook up" with on a more permanent basis. I kind of think we aren't quite far enough up the evolutionary ladder just yet to be able to disregard those basic "preserve the species and reproduce" instincts.
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
I think that "Ideal" and "Average" have been diverging, too - it isn't like the same thing that was considered "ideal" 50 years ago is ideal today.
Today's ideal is a size 00-2, tall, and near the bottom of the healthy BMI range. The ideal also tends to be less "hourglass" than the figure described previously as "ideal" measurements.

As such, the old "Ideal" and "Average" were close together...but now? Most women will physically never get to "Ideal", even if they get to a healthy, sustainable weight.
That is very, very true - If you look at some of the "sex kitten" shots of someone like Jayne Mansfield, they are very curvy with very little muscle tone - (forgive me Jayne) almost flabby by today's standards.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:05 PM   #15
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Commenting responding to several people - sorry, I haven't kept track of who!

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You are correct according to the chart, a 26.5 inch waist is a 4-6 today in most things, 10 years ago was a 10-12.
Puts a whole different spin on the information that Marilyn Monroe wore a 12/14 doesn't it? It's not that what is desirable has changed *that* much; it's that the sizes have changed.

I used to work for a clothing manufacturer in the Women's Wear development department and Kaplods is totally right in her description of how sizing works. When I worked where I worked, the company was in the middle of a huge sizing reconfiguration. One of the things we did was bring in over 400 women to be measured (a series of over 150 measurements per woman) to create an "average". The average size of all of the women across all size ranges had gone up in the 15 years since the project previously.

Quote:
I think that's kind of sad - the "average" woman is that much larger than she used to be?
Now, see, I don't think it's "sad". I think it's a good thing. Part of the reason that we're larger (and it's not just women, but men, too) is because of better nutrition. Also because women are not expected to wear foundation garments (girdles, bras, etc.) that distort their true shape. Now obviously, we in America (and some other countries) are larger due to obesity rates, but taking obesity out of the equation, people as species are larger due to better nutrition and so forth. Anyone who has ever looked at historical costumes in a museum or toured historical homes can see that beds, chairs, clothing, etc., all were MUCH smaller 50 or 100 years ago.

Here's just one source for you:
Quote:
http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/F...iceIsRight.htm
In the U.S., statistics for students ages 18-20 entering New England colleges show a remarkable gain in body size from one century to the next. The average height of men entering Amherst College increased from 66.8 inches in 1861 to 70.5 inches in 1957. (The share of freshmen 6 feet or taller increased from 4 percent to 33 percent.) For women entering Vassar College, average height increased from 63.5 inches in 1884 to 65.1 inches in 1957. For the Amherst men, gains in weight outpaced gains in height during 1910-57.
It wasn't until later in the 20th century and the introduction of processed foods (as well as the reduction of physical jobs) that height increases began to be eclipsed by weight increases.

Also keep in mind that "ideal" and "average" are two different things. Again, drawing on my experience working in structural design (not fashion design), we designed clothes across a range of sizes based on the AVERAGE (as measured by real women from the community) NOT based on the fashion model ideal. Clothes used for fashion shows and shoots were custom tailored and often custom sewn in house specifically for the models chosen - but the clothing in the LINE that was sold in stores was manufactured by patterns based on the average.

Just some info from the inside (albeit 15 years ago inside).

.

Last edited by PhotoChick : 10-21-2008 at 08:08 PM.
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