Size, fashion and discrimination.

You know, since I had children, I’ve been a little larger than I was previously. It’s a fairly common complaint/ situation, there’s even an entire blog devoted to a celebration of it, the shape of a mother. In my case though, a little larger is still on the slim side it would appear. I bought a pair of jeans today, they’re a size 12, and the bit of flesh that sags over the top of them (they are hipsters, although I didn’t realise that at the time I bought them) isn’t nearly as big as it was just a few weeks ago before I took up swimming again.

So I’m nearly the size 10/12 I used to be before children, and I feel like I ought to apologise. When I’ve talked with friends who are trying to lose weight after children, I’ve always been told, but you’re so slim already. I’m not, you know. Or maybe I am, I guess, but that isn’t the point. I weigh more than I want to weigh, and I definitely have more spare flesh around my midriff than I’d like. Not that I’m aiming for super model status, but I’d like to be fit again, and I’d like to not have to apologise for wanting that. The call for submissions to the carnival of feminists this time talks about “feminism and fat (preferably,…focusing on the positive aspects in a celebratory spirit rather than on eating disorders on the subject of which a substantial body of research/literature already exists – we fat advocates are catching up, however!)” and it depresses me. Not that there are fat advocates – oh no, please feel free to advocate anything you like. But that once again, I’m left apologising for being the shape I am, and wanting to be less of it.

You see, when I was a teenager, I hated sport. Or rather, I hated team sports, wearing grey knickers under too big gym slips, having terribly jolly hockey teachers at my private school (I was on an assisted place, shall I apologise for that too as well?) make jokes about buying me braces by charging ppl who couldn’t score goals. So yes, I hated sport. And running with my dog, or swimming with my friends, or walking up to the stables to muck out, ride and so on didn’t count as sport. So I never realised that I was pretty fit. Then five years of martial arts at university didn’t count as sports either – but all those sit ups and 5 or more 2 hour practise sessions a week did something. My body was used to being fit, even if I didn’t really realise it at the time, and even giving up exercise and having children, it seems to remember what it used to feel like. Give it a few regular sessions of swimming and things are settling back again, and I’d like to celebrate, but I’m terribly afraid I’m going to upset my friends who struggle to lose the pounds, and that somehow it’s not feminist to be happy about being thin.

I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of being any size. If you are happy (and that’s the key point) with how you are, then bully to you. I don’t have any problem with that. Seeing acres of flesh creeping out over the top of too small trousers doesn’t turn me on, but I’m willing to accept that that is the fashion. (And I’ll save the rant about who the **** designs fashion for some other time, right after I’ve hitched my rapidly slipping jeans up, and bought some hipster underwear to get away from the whale tail thing.)

One thing does worry me though.

I bought my daughter a skirt today. My beautiful, tall, active, blonde 6 year old daughter an age 7 skirt. She rushed off to try it on and came down not quite happy. She was going to insist that it was lovely – she adores clothes, expecially feminine clothes(unlike her grossly unfeminine mother who seriously considered dungarees from the sale today) and didn’t want to admit that the skirt was uncomfortable. But I looked closely at her, and realised it was digging into her waist. Or where her waist will be, after puberty kicks in, and where it isn’t right now. She’s a child, she doesn’t have a waist. She isn’t the same size as every other six year old (which I obviously know, given that I bought an age 7 skirt) not that I’ve noticed all six year olds being the same size.

And that’s my point. I know you were all hoping I was going to get to it. How do we expect women to grow up valuing all the sizes that we can be, accepting each other for what we are, when it would appear we expect all six year olds to be the same size? So we are already telling many of our children that they are too big, or too small, too thin or too tall. They aren’t, it’s a joke. They range around some statistical norm just as much as adults do – possibly more. So why can’t we just sell clothes by height and waist, much as we do for adults? Would it really be so terrible to admit that children range in size, that not all six year olds have a 21 inch waist or are within 110 to 116 cm in height?

Just a thought. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m sure I have other things to go off and feel guilty about.

Oh, here’s one more thought. How about if we stopped making each other feel guilty, accepted help and support from one another and concentrated on making life better all around? Do you think it could work?

About Jax Blunt

I'm the original user, Jax Blunt I've been blogging for ten years, give or take, and if you want to know me, read me :)

Comments

  1. I agree it would be far more sensible to sell clothes by height (think catalogues like Verbaudet do?) but I find waist/chest sizes confusing – do they mean to fit chest size x so the top itself is bigger or do they mean the actual chest in the clothes is that size, fitting someone with a smaller size chest. Then to try and combine height and waist leads to endless possibilities. It’s probably as well every shop’s clothes fit differently, though it does mean trying fitted things on in the shop to make sure they do fit. We can’t buy M trousers without trying them on, though joggers are OK.

  2. I thought most kids clothes were sold by height, though with the ages on the label too. Of course, this doesn’t allow for different-from-the-norm height/waist ratios, though. Mine are all on the small side for their ages, and get grumpy when they notice that what they are wearing is not age-appropriate. (Rachel commented the other day that I’d have to throw out her knickers [age 2-3, fit perfectly] because she is 4 now!!)
    I also KWYM about not being allowed to feel like you need to lose weight/flab, because I’m not fat either, but I’m sagging all over the place. I didn’t try to get my pre-pregnancy figure back yet, because I’ve been either pregnant or breast feeding more or less continuously for the past 5 years (!) No idea how I’d fit exercise into my life, though…

  3. I wonder whether it’s because a lot of children’s clothes are bought as presents by people who won’t necessarily know the messurements. (And possibly, if you make it easy for them, will be spending the most money.) People will have more of an idea of the child’s size compared to the ‘average’ 6yo (or whatever), than what their messurements are. And as someone who almost *never* buys new clothes (or even old ones) for her children, I got really stuck in H&M a few months ago trying to kit the children out for a wedding. I knew I wanted age 3-4 clothes for my nearly 5yo, but had no idea of his measurements, and had to keep refering to the wall charts lol.

    Oh, and with you on the weight thing too. I have now lost 10% of my body weight in three months and feel very chuffed and proud of my acheivement, along with more energetic and fitter to boot, so just because other people may or may not think it was necessary, that’s not really the issue. I’m feeling happier, healthier and more comfortable as a result. Celebrating here with you, Jax… Hurrah!

  4. addresing your points (roughly) in order….

    GO FOR IT regarding feeling good and celebrating getting back to the shape you want to be, you are (obviously) not fat but you are not allowed to apologise for not liking the little extra that being a mum “gifted” you with.

    What is wrong with dungarees??? I’d wear mine if they didn’t have a MotherCare label in them (and trigger lots of “oh when is it due? questions….)

    Clothing for kids is one of the biggest aarrrrg things round here….. DD is now in clothes mainly supposed to be for 7-8s, she’s still not 6 and not *that* tall surely! She has, however, started to worry about being fat curtessy of my mum telling her she had a fat belly (ok, she does have a little round tum, it’s not wibbly though!!!) and the fact that the kids next door are seriously skinny. It really, really winds me up that a 5 yo is now worried about how healthy or otherwise every morsel is and I agree Jax, it’s not right that she should even be thinking about this sort of thing. The only plus side of the whole thing is she’s now insisting on “PE” which is making *me* get more excercise!

  5. I do know what you mean about children’s clothes sizes- Joy (8) has to wear 11-12 in fashion-led store clothes, eg New look, and 9-10 in Boden, m&s, etc. She just hasnt got that teenager shape yet, and hence no waist. It does bother her. It bothers me that it bothers her. She thinks she’s fat. she thinks she’s too fat to do ballet, which she loves. Her cousin, who is now a slim teenager, has borderline anorexia, which bothers me a lot. We don’t go out and buy new clothes often. I recently made her some dresses, which avoid the size/ waist issue. I cut off the legs of some of her sister’s jeans- I should have cut out the size tag, too. I once complained at M&S as they had nothing that would fit her- all skinny-fit jeans- they should know better- it’s too late when you’re grown up with a hang up about your size- the damage is done- by them.
    fergus is a different shape- I have to buy the next age up for the length and get something with elastic that can be pulled tighter.
    I don’t know what the solution is, but not making mini teenage clothes for little girls might be a start. My mum blames it on Kids TV presenters! And Vertbaudet sizes are tiny!
    And, also, what about not making teenage clothes for grown-ups- o, but I can’t afford grown-up shops.
    I, too have managed to get down to a size 12 hipster (which makes my bum look smaller!). But I still have to wear a long t-shirt to cover my muffin top overhang! I don’t think its anti-feminist to want to look nice and feel good about the way you look. Well done, and well said.

  6. You know, when people say “but you are fine” it might just be that they want to say something nice and bolstering to you… i mean, if i say to someone who is 20 stone that i feel fat, i’d expect them to say “but you are okay” to me – and it wouldn’t mean that they thought i was twiggy and shouldn’t be bothering, just perhaps that they wanted me to feel good and that yes, perhaps they’d trade places with all 12 stone 10 of me.

    Not everything is a direct assault on how you are allowed to feel about yourself you know, most of it is just people trying to be friendly :) I can’t say i felt great the time someone said to me “you are okay apart from having a really fat tummy” – i think i’d rather they’d said “but you’re fine!”

    ;) :) And no, this isn’t a criticism either, before you get all cross with me, just a spirited remark :) ;)

    As for clothes… nope, make them thinner please… so i spend less time safety pinning my children into things :D

  7. You’re absolutely right, Merry, and I’m not sure that Jax meant that she would actually take offence at being told she looked fine (which she does, 10 times over). I think it’s more that it doesn’t then feel socially acceptable, polite or PC to admit to wanting to look/feel different or consciously doing anything about it (especially if you’re not that overweight), and even less to share that success with friends. Like the intelligent child a school….. why does she bother to study hard when she’s going to pass anyway. Then when she gets her string of ‘A”s she’s not able to share her successes in the same way as her friends. She was clever anyway. Big deal. And that one ‘B’. What right does she have to be upset about that?

  8. I struggle with kids clothes, my lot are tall and thin, I tend to get trousers with adjustable waists for the boys, for Z (9) its a problem though, if i get clothes that fit her waist they are then too short, if they are long enough they are then too big on the waist. The clothes are too old for her too, she thinks that too, she does’nt like the pink/girly stuff, she recently chose a few s-shirts/ rugby tops from the boys range, but we are finding jeans a problem so I’m finding it very hard with her atm. As for mums, I think that as long as you feel happy/healthy it does’nt matter. I am now a 10-12, I’m fine with that, I think people should be a bit nicer to each other though, Before children I was a size 8, before baby #4 I was a 10, ‘friends’ have commented that I’m not as thin as I was, but I feel better about myself now then as a size 8. Good post btw :0)

  9. I so know what you are saying.

  10. Clothes can be an issue here too, but with regard to the waist – I always try to get adjustable waist things now as Boo is skinny, but Phoeb’s is rounder and Els is solid -and as the clothes have to hand down they have to fit all shapes! Abbie has had a waist & hips since the day she was born. P is more ‘straight’ and likes to wear clothes under her belly (like a boy). They are very different. If I can’t get an adjustable waist I have an elasticated snake belt to hand :) My biggest trouble is not so much the fit as the style. I have a 5yo in age 7-8 clothes. When you shop in a store the styles are often separated into 2-6 & 7-13. Well that puts A in the clothes made for rising teens – but she is 5! The styles are often just not suitable. Even the hand me downs from friends are too grown up for her I think. But she is a style-queen and looks gorgeous in the clothes (especially with her wiggly hips already), but she just doesn’t look 5. I make sure what she wears is not indecent or inappropriate, but it’s often too grown up and I can’t seem to get around that one very easily – sadly!:-(

  11. Blimey, there’s hardly anything of Big, is there? I’d definitely put her on the thinner side. Violet and Gwenny are both in 10-12 stuff – Violet’s not that tall for her age (rising-10 but 11 year old height), but has a “figure”. I don’t buy new clothes for them very often, but they do get them bought for them, and they vary so much from shop to shop. Where was this skirt?

  12. This was a Sainsbury’s skirt – and the age 8 one looks lovely on her. It’s not that often I buy new clothes either, was splashing out in the sale. mother quite often buys bits, and quite often has to take them back!

  13. “…it would appear we expect all six year olds to be the same size. So we are already telling many of our children that they are too big, or too small, too thin or too tall.”

    I hear you – but would just like to say that, growing up (I was born in 1985 if you want an idea of when that was), I never felt too tall or too big just because my size was always a couple of years bigger than my age. I used to feel proud of being tall, to be honest. I suspect it would be harder to be a child who was always smaller than the norm (I remember a friend who used to hate being short – she performed an absolutely hilarious speech on the subject for the school speech competition…).

    I do find it peculiar the way, for example, girls’ T-shirts tend to be tighter than boys’ T-shirts – is this to show off the shape they don’t have? Childrens’ clothing is often too old for them, I agree.

  14. I remember having to buy the “Pretty Plus” sizes of pants when I was a kid. There were sizes that came in three options – slim, regular, and pretty plus. They might as well have put a neon label on them that said FAT KID. I still think that part of my body issues came from making out Christams lists at my grandmother’s and having to write down pretty plus while my cousin wrote down slim.

  15. Hi there,

    I have started a petition regarding anti size discrimination in the UK. If you know anyone in the UK who you think would like to sign this please could you pass on the url?

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/AllSizes/

    Evidence shows that underweight and overweight people are subject to discrimination in many areas including employment, education, healthcare and housing. Weight and size discrimination is frequently viewed as the last remaining acceptable form of discrimination and it needs to go!

    Thanks for your time,

    Leah

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