Yes, there are small Asians, but vanity sizing is still weird
By Marielle Green on July 10, 2014
So J. Crew is introducing size 000. Hello, vanity sizing. It's a real thing, and it's ridiculous. I really liked this quote below, unattributed here because it's from somewhere else that you can find in the article and I left APA behind in grad school:
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. And negatively effects girls' feelings about their bodies before they're mature enough to know that they're defined by more than a number assigned to them by a clothing company.
It's definitely damaging. I had a friend in high school who would get depressed when she had to buy a larger size, or happy when she could fit into a smaller size in a different brand. It's so silly, because of course brands vary. But it's real and serious because you can't help but buy into those numbers.
There's so much to talk about here, but I'm going to choose something random and stupid because that's all I know.
I love how they say they want to market clothes to Asian countries - "Our sizes typically run big and the Asia market tends to run small." They're pretty much admitting it's vanity sizing, but they're counting on people falling for the Asian market bit.
So let's talk about the Asian market "running small."
Yes, Asian women in general are smaller. I never thought fully grown women could have feet that small - like smaller than size 5 - before shoe shopping in Korea. And I regularly saw women as short as or shorter than me. Regularly. Blew my mind (though ok, nutrition was probs a factor for some).
But they're still people-shaped people, and people in (currently non-starving) countries can only be so thin.
The 00 women are an extreme minority in America; they're a bit more common in East Asian countries, but still not the norm. The thing about Asian women is that the majority are clustered around the S/M range, to the point where all the little fashion boutiques in Busan sold stuff in "free size" and larger sizes were rare and hard to find. In Uniqlo and other stores, I never/rarely saw an xs, just s. But maybe the xs stuff sold out that fast, who knows? The "free size" and some of the usual small stuff was still too big for me (to give you an idea). I'd say an Asian small is something like a US xs/s and likewise, the Korean "free size" is a slightly smaller US s/m.
But I'm not the authority on Korean sizes. I didn't actually buy a lot of clothing in Korea because of quality, weird free sizing, salespeople following me around, and not being able to try stuff on in non-chain stores. Also, they'd have weird fashion trends like fur on the shoulders and ruffles. You just don't drown a petite girl in ruffles.
Anyway, in America, you might have an average size, but the distribution curve is (how do you describe this stuff?). . .not as steep? In other words, I wouldn't necessarily use that average size in America to describe the majority of women I meet, unlike in Korea. There's just too much variation.
So that Korean S/M range will seem to "run small" to an American, just because of more constant size distribution (the whole ethnic homogeneity thing), and that difference is exacerbated by vanity sizing.
Example: I've been the same size, measurement wise, for around 15 years. I've lost a few pounds of baby fat since high school, but I've gotten a little curvier, so it evens out. I know this for sure because I still have dress clothes from middle school that I can fit into. That may sound a little weird, but I had things like slacks I've only worn twice but kept around for a while because you never know.
When I was 13ish, I was a size 1. A few years later, I wore size 0 stuff from the Gap, Express, etc. Flash forward to my late twenties, and Gap 00 is way too big, and I'm stuck wearing 00 jeans from teenybopper stores. At some point the small to x-small thing happened. And now there are xxs shirts in some places but thankfully I'm not that much of a pre-teen stick. I can't speak for J.Crew sizes over the years since I never shopped there (and probably never will since I'm not a prep with expensive taste), but vanity sizing is oh, so real. Skeptical? Check out the "US sizing" on ASOS - I'm a 2. You can see why companies get locked into weird size numbers for the women in Asia who are as small or smaller than me.
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