A Tale of Two Pants

So I went shopping this weekend. A fairly standard event. I even walked away with two pairs of new pants. They fit pretty much the same, give or take a few tiny details.

The problem?

These pants were two completely different sizes. Not sizes X and Y, which is frustrating in and of itself, but at least I get that on some level. No. These two pants (which, should you need reminding, fit exactly the same) were sizes X and Z. Size X is my standard size. Go through my closet, and at least 75% of my pants are that size.

I have to confess, the size Z pants fit quite nice. I don't think I, myself, looked quite as nice in them, but they fit well. I think I might, however grudgingly, come to accept that size should it be consistent in any manner.

Then again, there's the aspect that these sizes run small, so if I were an actual size Z, others would be larger sized as well. Which would make that size Z seem even smaller.

It makes no sense. Even I understand that.

I am quite jealous of guys who get to shop for pants based on waist and inseam. Much less guesswork.

The other point of this post is to ask myself the following: why do so many women (myself included) judge ourselves based on size when it's so obviously arbitrary. I mean, if a pair of size X pants fit the same as a pair of size Z, then what does size really tell us?

Not a whole freaking lot.

And yet we* go on thinking it does. What does it really say about you? I mean, you as a person. Even your body- what can a size say about your body, other than in extreme generalities. A person who is a size 18 is likely larger than a size 4, but that doesn't mean they're nicer or healthier or anything except that they're larger.

It's a pair of pants. My self-worth is predicated on some freaking $20 jeans? I sure as bloody hell hope not.

I've never met most of the people who read and post on my blog, people who I now consider my friends and accomplices in ED recovery. Therefore, I don't know what size you are or aren't. I don't even know your hair color (mine is reddish brown, if you must know). I value you for who you are and all of your wacky sayings and neuroticisms**. NOT your clothing size.

*Forgive the royal "we." I'm trying to generalize to most of the women I know, except the ones I know who don't actually give a rat's ass about their pant sizes. May they be fruitful and multiply, and may I soon be among them.
**Blogger spell-checker thought this word should be "eroticisms." Touche, spell checker. Touche.


mary said...

Hmmmm, so you're writing erotica now. It reminds me of a book by Anis Nin I innocently picked up at a book sale which turned out to be hotter than I realized. I had no idea!

So glad you've got some new britches! And that they fit.


Faith said...

Yeah - the pant size thing. HATE IT. Makes me INSANE. OK, I'm less than sane to begin with and it really sometimes pushes me over the proverbial edge. Why, oh why do (Municipal Department of) They do this to us???


Anonymous said...

My hair color is a blondish reddish brown. I'm thinking of dying it red 'cause red hair rules. :)

Pants are the worst pain in the ass when it comes to clothes shopping. There just isn't any consistency at all. I don't understand why womens' pant sizes don't go by waist and length, either. Surely the process would be a lot simpler than it is now. Plus, for a shortie like me, buying a pair of pants by length would be a big deal - nearly all of my pants are too long on me. Anyway, yeah. Pants. *sigh*

disordered girl said...

This makes me crazy too. I have two pairs of Levis, the same exact style bought at the same store. The 10s I bought last December and the 8s a couple weeks ago. I held the 8s up to the 10s and they are THE SAME SIZE. WTF?

Jeanne said...

Absolutely - we are not numbers!!!

I harken back to the days, just over a hundred years ago when clothing had no numbers attached. Each article of clothing was custom fit for your body, often by you (or a wonderful seamstress you knew.)

I'm so glad that you tried the pair of pants on in the first place and mega kudos go to you for buying both pairs!!! I admit, I still refuse to buy anything in a larger than my normal size. 8-(

thinking of you,

em said...

brown hair with blonde highlights (added by my hairdresser!)

the thing that amazes me about sizes is how they have changed (as in got bigger over the years as vanity sizing has come in). i still wear the same "size" i wore when i was 14 but i'm a hell of a lot bigger... than I was then!


em said...

ps i love your sense of humour!

Alexandra said...

I hate, hate, hate the way women's pants are sized. As if numbers weren't bad enough already ( like what is a size 6 ? Give me number of inches, damn it!! At least it's consistent, and comparable and actually measures something real i.e. one's circumference, as opposed to assigning some number that has no direct relation to anything)...now I'm starting to see women's pants that come in Medium, Small, Extra-small etc WTF?!

Can you tell how much that pisses me off? I so wish women's clothing was sized the same as men's. Pants should have waist and inseam (I'm so short that I've often bought a pant suit and turned it into a 3-piece suit by making a skirt out of the fabric left-over from hemming the pants). Also, I think women's dress, buttoned-down, shirts could also have more descriptive sizing...but i haven't figured out what the best would be ( sleeve, chest, and waist maybe?)

hungry for hunger said...

shit brown hair here.

you need to head up my way to this place mrs. h4h went. it was an ED recovery dream. she walked in, they asked her if she liked dark washes or light washes, and then sent her to the dressing room, starting handing her jeans with the instructions to come out no matter how they look. they even spoke with such precision as, "these will stretch the equivalent of one size after wearing them for 25 minutes," and, no shit, they did. the entire time her size was never spoken aloud.


of course, it ain't cheap.

carrie said...


You caught me. :) Though I'm always amused that the ED books are right next to the sex ones.


MDOT sucks. That it's also the acronym for the almost equally shitty Michigan Department of Transportation isn't lost on this Detroit girl.


Ditto. I'm 5'5" and I have to buy petites, which are sometimes too long. My mom is 5'2" and she has it worse.


Or, I have tank tops from Old Navy. An old shirt is small, new one is medium. And the medium is bigger!


It didn't hurt that I needed a pair of pants for a conference this weekend. Walking in wearing your skivvies tends not to get you internships...at least not *those* kind of internships. :)


I hate the concept of vanity sizing because it totally plays into the fact that women really care what size they are.

Moving on to the rest of the comments next.

carrie said...


I hear you. I don't get size 0 or even more absurdly, 00. Huh? Though your idea for the 3-piece suit is a great one, though a nice-fitting suit would be a better one.


Maybe I'll have to check it out. I just laid down a gigundo deposit for a 3-week trip to New Zealand in January, so that might have to wait. However, if you know of some jobs...

Send my love to the missus.


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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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