HomeTagsPosts tagged with "high street sizing"

high street sizing

By Amy Donohoe

I think that women have always had to deal with the pressure to be thin. We are exposed to advertisements, the media is saturated with the message and it comes from the medical organisations too.

Just like many young women, I have felt this pressure. I recently ordered a skirt from Bershka in my size but it was way too small for me. I usually fit into a size 8, not because I’m thin, I’m just proportional to my height. Bershka is owned by the same retailer company as Zara and it only carries sizes XS to L due to it being aimed at teens – and both companies have faced criticism in the past for their sizing charts. 

The skirt which I purchased online in a size small made me look bloated as it was too tight. I instantly thought I gained weight.I wanted to fit in the skirt without sucking in when I had to zip it up, so I made the silly decision to skip meals and I googled ways to lose weight, which were unhealthy options – I was tired all the time, I had little energy and I didn’t have the ability to concentrate.

Image: Bershka

This one skirt made me feel unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin. I thought that people were judging my body shape.

I then tried on a jumper from Bershka a few weeks later, a size medium this time which ended up looking like a parachute on me as it was so big. That made me think that it wasn’t my body that was different, it was their sizing.

I found it a bit depressing fluctuating between an XS and a M or a 8 and an 12 without any kind of explanation and it is impractical to carry three options of every top to try on whenever you go to the changing rooms. Zara has been called out about this in the past, too. 

Although size doesn't matter, it would be a lie not to admit that most of us – do care what size dress/skirt/top they wear. And that suddenly going from your normal size to a much bigger size is nothing but a confidence-breaker. In Bershka, I’ve discovered and accepted that I truly have no size. I ended up getting my skirt altered instead of altering my body.

I feel that there is a lot of pressure on women to fit into small clothes and the fluctuating sizes in high street shops isn’t helping. Women want to feel good in their own skin. When did it become more important to be skinny rather than healthy?

From websites devoted to fat-shaming celebrities such as Christina Aguilera and Adele to magazine covers urging us to "a stone in a matter of weeks," I think I’m right in saying that there's a persuasive message out there: women must be skinny in order to be beautiful. The pressure takes it toll. It leads to women feeling like they're never enough.

But here's the ironic thing: it's not men who are doing the majority of the name calling and fat shaming. It's definitely not men running the fat-shaming websites that advocate month long juice fasts, it’s not the men who have malicious, judgemental comments.

Many women are consistently more critical of other women than men are to women. We need to empower each other, not bring each other down. We have created an unrealistic idea of 'perfection.' It's an exhausting place to be.

It's unrealistic to think that our attitudes towards beauty, self worth and weight will change over night. And though you can't control the things that have been ingrained in you in the past, you can try to control the things you choose to believe or listen to now.

This might mean distancing yourself from friends who constantly tear you down, unfollowing people online who make you feel bad about yourself or cancelling subscriptions to the magazines that knock down your confidence every month.

There is convincing evidence that staying at a higher, stable weight and appreciating your body is good for your health. The Mayo Clinic goes so far as to suggest that stressing about your body size puts you at risk for weight gain.

The pressure women face to be thin, it is overwhelming. The women who are already thin feel it everyday in the sense that they need to stay thin and the women who are labelled ‘fat’ by our society feel even worse because it isn’t just pressure to be thin, they feel judged too.

Society and its standards are made by people who don’t care about you or your feelings. We should respect each other more.

I believe that this pressure is an illusion created by companies that want your consumerism. Companies that want you to feel crappy about your appearance so they can make money off of you and your sadness.

They want you to feel like a miserable so that you will spend money to look like their models even though they’re mostly Photoshopped to create an illusion of beauty that is actually quite impossible to achieve. In the past, people have told me that I look skinny and I used to take it as a compliment, but now I’d rather be called healthy.

I have learned that there shouldn’t be any pressure to look a certain way, all humans should embrace their uniqueness. What is skinny? What is fat? At the end of the day they’re just words.



I approach shopping with a mixture of hope and trepidation. It's nearly like putting my self esteem on a bungee rope and hoping to hell that I tied the chord properly. 

You see, dear reader, I'm a size 12-or at least I should be. In some shops I'm a 10, in others I'm a 20. How good I feel about myself and the world in general that day directly correlates to the numbers on the clothes. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. 

Obviously, I would love nothing more to wake up in the morning and have Gigi Hadid's abs, but I like pizza too much for that to happen anytime soon. 

I'm no super model, but the 'average' size of Irish women is a UK 14, so as a 12(ish) I should have no problem finding decent clothes in an average high street store, right? 


A couple of months ago I went into a much-loved and well known high street store to pick up a chiffon shirt for work. Burgundy, with those 70's sleeves the seem to be everywhere, I figured I was on to a winner. Paid for it without trying it on, a rookie mistake in hindsight. 

I brought it home, tried it on. Much to my disgust, it wouldn't even fight over my chest. 

I was completely distraught, I must have piled on the pounds without realising it, started vowing to myself that I would live on a diet of celery and treadmills. 

Tearing it off in a self-directed rage, I turned to an old reliable shirt that's been wardrobe staple for many moons. Then, the label caught my eye, it was the same size, from the same shop. Both the shirts were a similar cut and material, bought within about two years of each other. One fit perfectly and the other restricted any hope of breathing. 

In jeans, one high street store a pair of high waisted skinny's 12 fit like a dream, another wouldn't go past my knees. 

You'd think that  there should be some kind of general consensus between clothing manufacturers but, in actual fact, there isn't. Which really doesn't make sense. Even the history behind where these sizes come from doesn't make that much sense. 

So buckle in, ladies and gentlemen, for the quickest roller-coaster whistle stop tour of sizing conundrums in the world. 

According to research done by Slate, the idea of standardised sizing first appeared in 1940's America. With Europe still in bits from World War Two, New York became home to the fashion industry. Couture and tailor made clothing begin to decline in comparison to ready-to-go, mass produced clothes. 

Before this ready-made clothes were only for men (typical), they used chest measurements to suss out what his other measurements would be. So the geniuses decided to do the same for women, basing sizes on women's busts. 

Of course, these measurements aren't exactly accurate. We all know ta ta's have a life and mind of their own. 

So in the 1950's the government went back to the drawing board, asking statisticians to take measurements of over 15,000 women. They hoped to create a broad, simple, standardised system  using all that data. But the data wouldn't co-operate, because everybody is different (obvs) AND they only measured white women. 

So they came up with 27 different sizes, including height differences, but that caused major headaches for manufacturers. So eventually, they came up with a more simplistic size range, from 8 to 32, based on bust measurements and a "classic" hourglass shape, which only 8% of women have.  By the 1970's the US government pretty much gave up trying to control dress sizes, so they let manufacturers decide.  

In 1982, the 'Specification for Size Designation of Women's Wear' was released in the UK. Similarly to the US, while stores were happy with these guidelines at first, they let them slip by the wayside giving manufacturers a lot more wiggle room (unlike those aforementioned jeans). 

Today, the changing of measurements can go either way. On one hand, you have budget stores using it as an excuse to slash sizes and save money by using less material per item. On the flip side, vanity sizing means that over the years some shops have crept their sizes up the scale to make customers feel better about themselves. 

Anyway, my point is that you don't need a label to define your size. Society constantly, through social media, magazines, films and TV, tells women that to be a above a certain size means to be lesser. Less attractive, less intelligent, less ambitious. Which of course, simply isn't true. So why do we obsess over completely archaic sizes that are totally inaccurate anyway? 

So please, ladies, don't go beating yourself by beating yourself into those jeans. You are and always will be so much more than a number on a label. And who really cares what that label says? As long as you're happy, healthy and can look in the mirror and say 'yeah I'm hella fine' that's all that matters. 


And FYI, I went back and got at top in a 16- and it looks great. 



How many times have you brought your size jeans into the dressing room, only to find that you'd need a winch and possibly some kind of denim-friendly lubricant to get them up over your thighs? 

No matter what store you walk in to, finding you size can be a little difficult thanks to the massive size difference brand-to-brand. 

The high street is being called out for its massive size discrepancies, and today it's H&M that's in the spotlight. 

Twitter user Samantha Bell took to the social media site to share a snap of two pairs of jeans, both in a size 16, from H&M and Penneys.

The size difference is blatant, with the H&M jeans being three quarters of the size of the Penneys ones.  


A post shared by WODtheFork (@wodthefork) on

This definitely isn't the first time that social media has been used to call out the murky measurements. 

Body positivity blogger Katy recently went viral thanks to her eye opening picture showcasing these sizing issues to great effect. 

The fitness and lifestyle guru showed herself trying on two pairs of jeans from different stores, both in a size 10. 

The drastic difference in fit is pretty evident in her post. 

There are so many possible reasons for this, from vanity sizing (where a label is marked as a smaller size than it is to make the customer feel good) to international sizing measurements not quite translating country to country. 

Despite being called out multiple times, it seems that high street brand owners just do not want to sit down and agree on a universal measurment for each size. 

Here's to hoping that the constant calls for a better system will be heard one of these days.