Vanity sizing: Is it hurting body image?

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Some shoppers are steering clear of retail shops that size inconsistently, in order to keep their body image at ease.

A term called vanity sizing is a large reason why an individual can be a certain size in one store, but a completely different size in another store. For example, an individual can be a size 4 in one store, yet size 8 in another.

Melanie Rickey, founder of Fashion Editor At Large, said stores create their own sizing using the average size of their customers, and label the garment a smaller size than it should be.

“Vanity sizing is clothing sizes that are smaller than they should be, to make women feel good about their dress size,” Rickey said.  

Rickey said she has personally gotten used to the sizing, but not all shoppers feel the same way.

It is something used by brands to represent their average size. It certainly can be annoying when your size changes from store to store,” Rickey said.

Chloe Heydenberk, student from Grand Rapids, Michigan, said she has experienced body image issues when trying on clothing at various retail shops with inconsistent sizing.

“I pretty much only buy my jeans from Express,” Heydenberk said.I wear a size zero or double zero there, which obviously makes me feel better than wearing a 4 or 6 somewhere else,”

Heydenberk said sizing has gotten so inconsistent that she only shops at the stores that carry sizes that make her comfortable with her body image.

“I’ve learned where I like to shop, and I honestly just stay away from places that size inconsistently because I don’t want to feel uncomfortable with myself,” Heydenberk said.

Some retail stores are known for their one-size clothing, such as Italian clothing brand Brandy Melville.

Kayla Hanson, employee at Brandy Melville, said one-size clothing is versatile; meaning a crop top would fit as a normal T-shirt on a little girl, but on older girls, the shirt style would appear shorter and more cropped.

“The clothing material is also flexible, allowing it to mold to the customer’s body shape,” Hanson said.

Hanson said that the one-size clothing is seen as both a positive and negative.

“Most of our young customers love the idea of the clothes being one size. However, our older customers seem to not like it as much,” Hanson said.

Alixzandra Jyawook, apparel design major at Michigan State University, said creating clothing that is actually labeled according to the scale is one of the most important aspects about clothing.

“This is a costly mistake on both the financial aspect and time aspect, and everyone knows the fashion industry is so fast paced, that this mistake cannot be afforded,” Jyawook said.

Although some retailers in the industry do a sufficient job with sizing, Jyawook thinks the consistency can always be improved.

“Scaling down to sizes just in the country, I think it would be beneficial for all retailers and designers to use the same sizing, because it would create a more economical shopping experience,” Jyawook said.




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