I Am Not A Number

I am a 10, unless I am a 12 or a 14, sometimes all three at once and more often than not, none of these all at the same time while also still not being an M or an ML but definitely never a SM. All of these are a labels we pin to ourselves, we tag ourselves with to boost our body confidence. Or more realistically, give us a boot with which to kick ourselves.

I am not a number.

I am a woman whose body has given birth twice. My hips are not where I left them back in 2010 before my first pregnancy, my shape has changed although not in the way I would expect with my fluctuating weight. My body shape changes on an almost daily basis, moves with the changes of the moon and whether or not I’ve had beer, pasta or lentils that day. The size I get up to on a morning can sometimes dramatically differ from that which I face when I go to bed.

So when I buy clothes there needs to be a bit of breathing room, not just literally but figuratively as well. Clothes need to be worn in to feel at home on my body. The numbers are essentially meaningless except they can frame your whole self-perception. They are they to tell you which item should fit you but there is so little between the sizes in terms of fabric and so much between them in our heads. Not only that but the dress sizes are not universal. A size 12 in one shop could be a 10 or 14 in another.

I’ve been known to shop at certain places because they are generous in their sizing and I can twirl around with glee that I am in a dress size smaller than the one I think I am in my head. How screwed up is that? My body shape is my body shape regardless of what the number says on the tag. The more we try remember this the happier we will be with how our bodies look.

Last week I found the most perfect raincoat that I’ve spent years on the lookout for. The shop had a size 10 and a 14 in stock. I felt like I DESERVED to fit into the 10 since I’ve been going to the gym and eating well. I didn’t. My arms were too big for the arm holes and I knew that there was no way I could get a cardie underneath. The shop assistant suggested I try the 14, I said no. I said no to my perfect coat.

I went off and found another branch which also only had a 10 and 14. I tried on the 14 and it not only fit but fitted perfectly. My perfect coated fitted me perfectly in its inperfect-for-me size. I realised that I was so hung up on the number that I was prepared to let go of a beautiful and much needed coat because of it.

Then I realised I do this ALL. THE. TIME.

Sod the sizing; something that fits me in a size can look completely different on a similar sized friend because clothes are not made to fit our individual bodies they are made to fit an unseen idealised mannequin shaped body. Our bodies are all wonderfully shaped and do amazing things, we need to remember that so we don’t get hung up on someone else’s label for our bodies.

There is a way around this which is to make our own clothes. Only when I started to try sew my own clothes did I realise how much I could adapt something to really fit me and how good it felt to have clothes that truly fit. This is not always an option due to time, faff, cost of fabric. Recently I have taken to getting some great charity shop finds and adapting them to my body, which is surprisingly satifactory. But really, the best way to fight the numbers is to stop paying attention to them. If you care what the label says inside, cut it out. As long as it fit and you feel good, that is all that matters.