As I walk out of J.Crew with my size 4 bootleg cords (on sale for $36), I feel I’ve been hoodwinked: Clearly, size inflation is completely out of control. There is no way I wear a “real” size 4. We’ve heard for years that stores are quietly making each size more generous, and adding ever smaller sizes at the bottom end (size 000, anyone?). The reason? It makes you feel better about yourself. (Hey! I can fit into a size 4! I must purchase this apparel immediately!)
Sure, I’ve lost weight over the last 18 months, but I’m not THAT small. It’s a physical impossibility. Yet the same mass deception is going on in my own closet: the ‘skinny’ jeans that now hang on me, the shirt with the tight sleeves that are now swimmingly large. It’s some kind of plot — because someone who wears a size 4 is thin. That person is not me, and it never will be.
Welcome to my recent irrational thoughts. I’m just now really understanding the deeply ingrained, distorted body image women have — and it goes beyond age, education and income; beyond biology; beyond reasonable, learned thought. It does not matter whether you read Tom Wolfe or Teen Vogue as a teenager, or whether you were popular in high school. It does not matter that you are a competent, professional person with a good job, with friends, with hobbies, with social skills. We all gaze coldly into the mirror and frown disappointingly.
But I really thought this would all go away if I could lose weight — that the inner scrutiny and self-criticism was justified. I was never obese, but for the better part of 25 years, I’d teetered on the border between normal sizes and plus size — an odd place when you’re too big for Banana Republic, but too small for the Lane Bryant. I knew plenty of other women – thin women – who criticized their bodies constantly. And I thought “what’s their problem?” They have nothing to worry about.
Well, here I am buying size twos and fours, and still, I begin my days as I have begun most days in my adult life, by scrutinizing the cellulite on my butt in the bathroom mirror.
So my New Year’s Resolution — and I HATE making resolutions — is to be done with this crap. It’s a ridiculous waste of time and energy. Of course, merely resolving to have a better body image won’t do it — I need a strategy. It might include public nudity, maybe life modeling? It might involve belly dancing lessons. Any ideas? Because as a size two, I’m sure tired of being fat.