vanity sizing….discussion post

I wasn’t going to post anything today.  That is until Travis went off this morning about his shirts.

You see, I bought him a pack of Hane’s white undershirts.  Size Large…because that’s the size he normally wears.  This morning, he opened the package and put one of the new shirts on.  TOO BIG.  He was furious.  <-I won’t go into the differences between men and women here, but suffice to say that I’m pretty sure most women would be jumping up and down at the thought of an article being TOO BIG.  “I’ve lost weight!”  “Maybe my body has finally figured out that brownies are the way to weight loss!?!” 

Anyway, the next words out of his mouth were, “Stop fooling yourself, America!  When I was 16 years old, I wore a Hane’s Large and it fit.  If anything, I’m BIGGER now.”

What he experienced is called, “Vanity Sizing.”  A sneaky (or not so sneaky) way that the fashion industry has switched around some numbers to make us feel better about our bodies.



I’ve read the trends.  I’ve been in the fitness world for 8 years now and worked with numerous weight loss clients.  The truth:  We are not, in fact, shrinking, but expanding year by year.  I just find this all fascinating.  I wanted to hear WHAT YOU GUYS THOUGHT?

Is Vanity Sizing fair?

Does it even really matter?

Is it a disservice to anyone?



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  1. Pingback: Spread the Love
    1. It’s a very well-known issue for a lot of people. I have personally always had trouble finding clothes that fit. Walking into a store and having to try hundreds of items on just to find your actual size, is indeed frustrating. Even worse, when buying online a majority of people, including myself, purchase several sizes of the same item, only to return all except one, or even worse, to find out that no size really fits at all.

      It all comes down to finding clothes that fit a specific type of person – that is what we are trying to do at I would love for you all to check it out, you will not be dissappointed!

  2. I hate vanity sizing! Since I do not live near a mall or clothing store, most of the time I rely on online shopping. But since I can not rely on sizes from past or present, I mostly put off clothes shopping until a trip to the city. I may as well learn how to sew.

  3. Hate it. Can’t we just be grown ups and use sizes that match our measurements (you know, like how they size men’s pants)?!

    I also think vanity sizing feeds the idea that bigger bodies are somehow bad and/or shameful. Certainly that’s true if someone is bigger due to excess bodyfat (i.e. overweight), but some people are simply made to be curvier, have bigger bones, etc. and they shouldn’t feel the need to hide behind a smaller size on their clothing tags!

  4. I think it’s annoying, personally. I’m a smaller person, and it’s hard to find things that fit me these days. I really believe that I should be probably a 4 … maybe even a 6? But in some stores, a size 0 doesn’t fit me. I’m sure some folks will roll their eyes at my “problem,” but it really is frustrating when I can’t find clothes that will fit properly. It is ridiculous that I can (well, could … after having a baby, I’m not quite back to my former size) wear a 00 in some stores. I’m not THAT small! I personally could care less what number is on my clothing. I just want it to fit properly!

    1. I’m sorry but a size zero and 00 is SMALL period.It’s not that i’m envious or anything but I wear a size zero now and that is EXTRA SMALL no matter how you slice and dice it. Perhaps you should try children’s size clothing (i’m not saying it in a snarky way) if size 0 is too big for you.

      I do feel however this vanity sizing has definitely impacted the 4-10 range for sure in some companies.

    2. I’m the same. I am really short and generally small. I need 00, which is stupid. 00 is not a real size. I think I am more like 2-4. I can’t shop at many stores anymore. Vanity sizing is annoying.

  5. I really think it’s unfair to women. Kind of contributing to the dumbing down of America, yes? Making our society more materialistic and vain than we already are! It also fosters the denial of how unhealthy Americans are. And if they don’t know it, they’re not going to change it! I really don’t care about the number (or at least I tell myself that) except that it definitely makes shopping more difficult for me!

    1. Absolutely! I am a size 20. I don’t want to remember that in Store A, X means 20, where in store B, Y means 20. There is no consistency among different clothing makers’ sizes 20, to begin with. This is an extra level of nonsense.

      I do wish we had standardized measurements for clothing in centimeters. We couldn’t do it in inches, because an inch really can be the difference between a good fit and a horrible fit.

  6. the only thing that really bothers me about it is that there is no consistency from brand to brand, so then I have to figure out, remember or (oh gosh the horror and time wasting) try things on . And then it messes with my mind because i’m not sure if I gained or lost weight, or if the store is just using a different system. To me it’s more of an annoyance than a moral issue.

  7. I only wish it was more consistent so that when I go to new stores, I don’t have to grab 3 sizes hoping one will work! The sizing numbers don’t really get to me — I wear ane easy 4 at New York & Co. and as high as 10’s some other places. It’s mostly just annoying when I’m shopping :)

  8. I too think it’s hilarious–the difference b/w men & women in general when it comes to sizing. ;)

    I used to care about sizing a lot more, but to be honest, I just want clothes to look good on me, so when the sizing is all different in each store, THAT is frustrating, b/c then I never know what I am. And I’m usually an ‘inbetweener’ too, which makes things harder with shopping. Plius, I like doing online shopping so it can be tough to know which size to get. I’m a usually pretty good guesser when it comes down to it, so I guess it doesn’t bother me all that much? But it would be more convenient if they just stuck with measurements = size for all time! hah :)

  9. I don’t really have big thoughts about it and consider it just a number….for ME personally. I would prefer to see more standardization in general across sizes. Certain stores it would be a joke to try to fit into a size 4 and others try to tell me I’m a size 0 (HAHAHAHA!). So I wish there was more standardization rather than constantly sizing clothes all crazy in a competition to have the sizes people will feel best in.

    As for a society viewpoint? I thikn it helps the general population be in even more denial than they already are about their health and weight. That’s my biggest frustration with it. No one is going to change to healthier habits when they can’t see the changes their body is making until it’s so much farther gone than it needs to be.

  10. It’s a huge disservice to really small people. In high school I was significantly smaller than I am now. I wore size zero. Well apparently the size grew with me. Nice to still be in the same size? Sure but what are the people who are actually that small supposed to wear? Plus it’s just weird… standardize it and use inches like men!

  11. I find this to be extremely frustrating. Even knowing that the size is just a number, it can be exciting that after working so hard, you’re buying a size smaller. It can also be totally disappointing if you then have to go in a buy a size “larger.”

  12. I think it’s a huge disservice to everybody. I like that men’s pants are typically sized with inches. I would prefer that our clothing did that, granted, we’d have to figure out a third measurement for hips. It’s really annoying because I would prefer to just buy clothes, and not have to try things on.

    Also, I think we’ve been “vanity” sizing up other things: seats in cars, airplanes, movie theatres, and the latest — exercise equipment (the adductor/abductor machine at my gym is too big for me to work on).

  13. I think it’s awful! It also makes no sense! What in the heck is a 00? It doesn’t make me feel good to go in and not ever be able to find clothes to wear when the sizes are constantly changing either. Did I even mention how much I hate shopping? UGH!

  14. I’m not sure that sizes matter. It’s just a marketing technique for businesses. If we’re healthy, then that’s all that should matter! It just makes it more confusing when it’s time to go shopping — there should be a universal size chart or something!

  15. He, he–so spot on about the male vs. female response to the too big item! But anyhow, I think that maybe it is a disservice. Obviously clothing makers do it to sell more. But a dose of reality about sizing is not such a bad thing, is it? I know that when I am in size 4s, I feel good about myself, but when in a size 6, I’m bigger than I like (which in reality means a size 8, right?). Since I don’t weigh myself, having the real deal on sizing would be appreciated!

  16. I knew this was happening for a few reasons, one there are stores that I cannot shop in any longer since all the clothes are too big now. I used to shop at them, and have not changed size since so obviously their sizing got larger. The other reason is that when I look at my Mom’s clothes from say the 80s they are the same size as mine now but inches different! I was shocked the first time we compared two skirts.

  17. It doesn’t make all that much of a difference to me personally because I know that I’ve shrunk MANY sizes thanks to losing almost 100 pounds. It doesn’t matter to me a whole lot what my original size or current size “actually” is, only that I worked hard and it shows on more than just the scale.

    Sure, over time it is frustrating because we think we’re healthier than we actually are, but I also wholeheartedly believe that healthy isn’t tied to one particular size.

  18. i don’t think it’s fair. we need to be real with the sizes, it’s a total cop out to me. But not significant enough for me to really care all that much. Ya know? I live in spandex anyway

  19. Ultimately it really bothers me too – I kind of have that same thought as Travis, “stop kidding yourself, America!” What bothers me more than the clothing sizes adjusting though is when things like movie theater seats, ball park seating, etc. gets replaced with even bigger seats so that people can actually fit into them – *that’s* what’s saddest to me.

  20. It doesn’t bother me too much but it is annoying not having a “standard” for sizing at stores. It makes shopping a little more tedious. My jeans are normally defined by waist size in inches so I know those are correct but then it can be hard to choose what size to try on in stores of normal clothes.

  21. i think itz dumb. people get so hung up on sizes and “refuse” to buy one size or the other… if companies would just keep sizes the same, it would make buying clothes a lot easier! and frankly, changing clothing sizes isn’t going to change america’s bodies.. just my thoughts :)

    1. I know you probably didn’t mean to make an offensive statement, but as someone who is recovering from 9+ years of anorexia, I did need my clothes to get bigger…or rather, I needed to get bigger to fill my clothes. And taking “better care” of my body actually means getting bigger.

  22. I’m all for it sometimes, but mostly, it’s difficult to buy clothes. I also don’t believe that I’m a small in so many items of clothing. In the end, it doesn’t make or break me.