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Vanity Sizing

February 11, 2015

Vanity sizing, or size inflation, is when the physical size of a piece of clothing does not align with the size on the label. While this simple sizing trick may seem harmless, experts say it may have more serious effects on the consumer. 

Samantha Highsmith: For many people, shopping for clothes now may seem like more of a hassle than it’s been in the past. The reason? The size you think you are, doesn’t always fit. 

Man-on-the-street: I don’t think that there is much consistency in women’s clothing sizes. 

Man-on-the-street: Brands, the fitting is not equal. It’s just so different, and extensive, and I don’t know it’s confusing.

Emilia Valle: In the industry it’s called vanity sizing.

Highsmith: Vanity sizing is the industry term for size manipulation. It’s when clothing makers give their products a numerical size that is smaller than it ought to be. 

Valle: Designers and design houses want people to buy their products.

Highsmith: Emilia Valle has been working in fashion for over twenty years, and has seen vanity sizing creep into the fashion scene.

Valle: If we measure the garment out it might be a size 8, but we go ahead and put a size 6 in it. Because people don’t want to know they’re size 8. 

Highsmith: Altering the size might make the consumer feel better in the moment, but many say there are other consequences. 

Man-on-the-street: I’m embarrassed to say that it does affect my body image. If it’s a larger size, “I need to lose weight.” If it’s a smaller size, “Hey, I’m doing great.” Yeah, it does matter. 

Katie McKenna: People are really attached to numbers. The idea in our current world is, body image is really a numbers game. What do you weigh? What size you are? What’s your body fat percentage? What’s your BMI? And so because some people are actually kind of obsessed with numbers, when they see a certain number on the label, it can send them into a bit of a tailspin. But when we are playing with the numbers as far as size, I think we’re also playing with people’s emotions.

Highsmith: Katie McKenna is a masters level nutritionist and health therapist who says that this misrepresentation of size has an effect on body image.

McKenna: It is directly against the definition of body image, which is acceptance, and accuracy with how you view yourself

Highsmith: It’s no secret in the fashion world, either, that size inflation has an effect the consumer.

Valle: Size inflation kind of hurts the consumer. Our vanity has become top priority versus who we really are. 

Highsmith: For Valle and McKenna, awareness about vanity sizing is the first step to fostering positive body image. 

McKenna: Now that we kind of have this idea of “yeah how come sizes don’t fit?” it really allows us to get to the deeper root of the issue about how we feel about our bodies.

Valle: If we step back and say ‘you know, we won’t take it anymore’ and accept who it is and not buy from those people that are warping our image.

McKenna: Body image isn’t about loving everything 100% of the time, but it’s about the ability to accept it, and to move it, and to not really be in comparison with other people.



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