America’s favorite overpriced and overly snooty dressy-prep clothing store J.Crew, controversially announced last week, that they will now be carrying a new pant size; this new addition boasts not one, not two, but three zeroes. A J.Crew spokesperson, quoted in a blog entry, insists that the store was “simply addressing the demand coming from Asia for smaller sizes than what we had

[previously] carried.” The new size “000” is equivalent to an XXXS and a 23” waist.

I was going to take the angle that may not be so widely considered; is this reverse size shaming? We tend to consider size shaming to be when someone living in a larger body is criticized for the way they look. Shouldn’t we then consider size shaming conversely, as criticizing someone living in a smaller body for the way they look as well?

In recent years, we have critiqued certain clothing stores for not carrying larger sizes for plus-sized clientele. Why then aren’t we criticizing stores similarly for not carrying smaller sizes for those living in petite-sized bodies? While the intentions of those lobbying for bigger sizes to be carried in stores to address the needs of a more diverse population are pure, it then seems unfair to be criticizing these same stores for supplying smaller size options for those falling on the opposite end of the sizing spectrum.

This all made sense to me until another blog on explained the notion of vanity sizing; when clothing retailers inflate the physical sizes of apparel and leave the number as is to make the customer believe they are a smaller size.  A blogger at Capitol Hill Style said, “Vanity sizing is based on the misguided notion that you need to lie to women in order to sell clothing…it promulgates the damaging concept that self-worth is directly proportional to clothing-tag size.”

According to standard size U.S. measurements, the average 155 pound woman would comfortably fit into a size 16. Jim Lovejoy, the industry director for the SizeUSA survey told Newsweek that because so many brands are adjusting their sizing standards to promote vanity-sizing, this same women is probably buying, and fitting comfortably, into a size 10 or 12. “Most companies aren’t using the standard ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] sizes anymore,” Lovejoy said.  “Sizes have been creeping up a half inch at a time so that women can fit into smaller sizes and feel good about it.”

I now don’t believe J.Crew adding a size “000” to be a body shaming issue; I think it’s more an issue of society placing too much emphasis on a number. It is true people come in all shapes and sizes, so supplying jeans that would be better able to fit smaller and larger bodies alike isn’t ludicrous to me. The brunt of the issue falls on what this number has started to represent. It’s the idea that so much weight (no pun intended) has been placed on the number on a label, that clothing companies have begun deceiving us into thinking we are smaller to boost sales.

Why is it that so many of us frequent specific clothing stores knowing that they tend to run larger? Does it make us feel better about ourselves knowing that we fit into a smaller sizes? If the answer is indeed yes, this is NOT our fault…it is a perpetuating issue that the media and popular culture has made true. It is unfortunately a burden that we must teach our children to be aware of. We are defined not by the size our pants, but the way with which we proactively live in a society that places so much value on proportions and weight.

Let’s start a love your body chain reaction. Tell us something about your body that you are thankful for. Help us teach our youth to appreciate the incredible things our body allows us to do; not what it looks like externally.

About the author:

Natalie Cohen is a Marketing and Community Relations Associate for Walden Behavioral Care.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Maine in Orono. Her favorite part of working at Walden is being able to act as an advocate for clients suffering with mental illnesses through spreading knowledge and awareness of not only Walden’s programs and services, but eating disorders in general.  Ms. Cohen’s passions include writing, social media and being able to converse with medical professionals, clients and her co-workers. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys spending time with her dog Bella, family and boyfriend.