HOW IS SIZE TRIPLE ZERO?
Our lives are dictated by numbers. Those on the scale. On our clothes labels. Even our BMI. They seem to be inextricably linked to our selfworth and, inversely proportionally: the lower they are, the greater the personal victory. Now US retailer J. Crew plans to help shoppers on their path to clothing-size self-satisfaction. In the latest instalment of ‘vanity sizing’, in which the numbers on the labels drop while the actual garments remain about the same size, J. Crew has introduced size 000, because one zero obviously did not suffice.
We’ve all done it: refused to try on a bigger size than we last fitted into. I have dresses I never wear, yet every now and then, as some bizarre mark of progress, I’ll (try to) slip them on. So imagine if the size you last bought was actually one size bigger without you even realising it.This plays into our obsession with appearing thin and clears the racks of retailers as a result.
The entire system seems completely irrational. How is it possible to walk into a store, knowing you’ve gained a few kilos, and still be able to fit into the size you were before the gain? (Endless return trips to fitting rooms become essential.) Even if you know it’s bogus, the power of that would-be-insignificant number remains. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of slipping on a pair of trousers in a smaller size to find a perfect fit. That validation isn’t sold separately; it’s woven right into that little number on the label.
The increasing pressure in the race to zero is the voice in your head telling you that there must be hordes of women who fit into these tinier sizes, leaving you desperate to be part of their tribe. This illusion also gives us a strange kinship with celebrities they admire; a size zero is aspirational and the closer ordinary women find themselves to it, the more attainable that Hollywood ideal becomes. It feels like an everlosing morale game. In an ideal world sizes would be insignificant and we’d take home the dresses that look best on us, not the ones that require us to disappear as the numbers nosedive into subzero oblivion.