Most women have a love-hate relationship with the sometimes magical, sometimes torturous activity called shopping. One thing making it especially torturous? Sizes — particularly when they vary so wildly as to toy with your sanity and self-esteem.
The struggle with sizes is particularly acute for plus-size women, who have far fewer options to choose from. The absurdity was never clearer than in plus-size model Tess Holliday's Instagram photo posted Tuesday:
The caption reads:
Cleaning out my closet for my big sale this weekend, & couldn't help but laugh at everyone who says I lie about being a "22". Plus-Sizes are SO inconsistent it's infuriating. In some brands I'm a 2x, in other's a 3x.. Sometimes a 4x! For my crop tops, they are mostly L from Forever 21.. Thats a massive difference! Basically you can't judge someone's size from photos, (nor should you) it only makes you look petty [sic]. At the end of the day, it's how you feel that matters, not the label in your clothes. I wouldn't care if the headlines said I was a size 0 or 28 model- it doesn't define me.
The matter of being labeled a certain size is especially meaningful to Holliday, who's been making waves for her recent rise in the modeling industry. For all of her success — she became the first model of her size to sign to a major agency, plus has gained massive media attention and even a People magazine cover — Holliday's name is often followed by those pesky digits.
The numbers don't matter: Size really is an arbitrary number, as so many plus-size shoppers know. It's no secret the clothing industry lags behind in accommodating shoppers above a size 12, and that includes aggravatingly inconsistent sizing across stores. Making it even tougher, so much plus-size clothing is only sold online, making it practically impossible for shoppers to try it on in stores first.
That said, sizes suck no matter what size you are. As one intrepid BuzzFeed reporter found by trying on 10 pairs of jeans, "Not only do different brands offer different sizes, many of their own items differ in size too."
It's one of the reasons shopping will always be a love-hate endeavor — but also a reason we should start shaking off the shackles of our sizes and embrace identities that can be measured in inches. As Holliday put it, "At the end of the day, it's how you feel that matters, not the label in your clothes."