Are you a size medium in one store but a large in another? You’re not alone, but you may feel alone by looking in magazines of thin, happy women. Body positivity is defying media projected body images in order to encourage women to feel comfortable from sizes extra, extra small, all the way up to triple X, and one young New York City clothing designer is seeking to deliver the message to consumers.
“Body positivity basically means accepting the body you have now and have been given. Through accepting it you begin to love it,” Mallorie Carrington, a NYC-based fashion designer who recently launched her clothing line SmartGlamour in February, told Medical Daily. “People don’t have the tools to develop body positivity.”
By shifting the focus from changing one’s body to fit the clothes and turning it into changing one’s relationship with their body, young women learn to healthily develop their self-esteem and confidence. Carrington focuses on educating her clients on their body types, sizes, and proper measurements. When she asks her clients to guess their measurements she says they’re always wrong, which is why she provides do-it-yourself tutorials on her website in order to create informed consumers.
Not all clothing lines follow the same measurements, which means a medium in one store is a small in the next, and that creates anxiety, frustration, and oftentimes women place blame on their bodies and not the clothes. Low self-esteem can make women feel inadequate, unlovable, and incompetent.
“You think it’s your fault or your body’s fault if something doesn’t fit you. I think we all have a weird image of ourselves because of life, media, and society. They’re all trying to tell us that we should fit certain sizes when not everything is built for their body size,” Carrington said.
It works both ways though: If you’re not losing weight but you’re fitting into smaller clothing sizes, what do you think it does to your ego? Boosts it. Last year, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found smaller label sizes increased self-esteem in their customers so much it made them want to revisit the store. Conversely, when mediums were actually labeled larges, customers were less inclined to return to the store.
Recently, clothing retailer J.Crew has introduced a new clothing size to create an even harder-to-reach expectation for women: the triple zero, or XXXS size. The sizing down is known as vanity sizing and was designed for women with a 30.5-inch bust and a 23-inch waist, Time magazine reported. However, J.Crew defends that its new size introduction was created for its Asian clientele because its market typically runs smaller, while American J.Crew sizes run on the larger size.
Vanity sizing has birthed inconsistencies in clothing line sizes since Sears’s 1937 catalog demonstrated the same measurements in two different sizes; one dress was size 14 and another dress was size 8, both with the same bust measurements. The inconsistencies have grown into what they are today and many consumers find it difficult to have to constantly assimilate to each store they shop in. More than 70 percent of girls ages 15 to 17 have avoided normal activities, such as attending school because they feel bad about their appearances, according to DoSomething.org. Will it be healthier for girls to grow up with body positivity movements, or vanity sizing?
“Clothing lines and even beauty companies feed on insecurity when they show you an image, which is almost always photo shopped. It creates unrealistic expectations of real bodies,” Carrington said. “Instead of feeding off insecurity, SmartGlamour works to empower you and to be proud of your body.”
Everything is customizable in Carrington’s line, which caters to women with all different shapes and sizes. After studying at both the Fashion Institute of Technology for fashion design and Pratt Institute for art and design education, Carrington freelanced but could not quell her passion for body positivity. She felt an obligation to help change the way women felt about their bodies and she wanted to use her knowledge and talent to do so, which is how SmartGlamour launched its first fashion show in February.
“I firmly believe every woman has something about their body that makes it hard for them to get dressed,” Carrington said. “Personally I have a long torso and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, I just need to know how to make informed buying decisions to complement my specific body type.”
The key is customization and knowing your measurements no matter how small or large you may be. Media has created the perception that women should be thin, but really women should be healthy and a side effect should be weight loss to fit into healthier measurements and not fit into elusive clothing sizes.
“Negativity has less space in your mind if you focus on the good about yourself,” Carrington said.