Small, Medium, Large, Xtra Large

Submitted by Madeline on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 01:25

It started with folding clothes.

My mother enlisted my brothers to help, and after a small lesson on the proper folding of shirts, they were off. We stood around, quietly working, our eyes occasionally flashing to the episode of Supernanny that was playing.

My brother was handed one of my shirts-- an Orange Crush, vintage-y looking thing. He held it up. "Oh my gosh. Look how small this is compared to all our clothes!"

I laughed. "It's an XL. It's not small."

"It's an XL? That's disgusting!"

My mom told him to please keep folding, and he did.

A few days later, he bought it up out of nowhere. "Hey, remember your shirt that was an extra large? That's just gross how small that was."

"It has to do with brands and sizing and stuff. It really doesn't look like one."

He didn't seem to hear. "If that's an extra large then what does an extra extra large look like? Or do they even have those?"

That got me thinking today. About sizes. And how--if I get to thinking about it--women's smalls, mediums, and larges are, at times, so much smaller then men's.

Of course there are the vastly different body types. Women are shaped the polar opposite of men. That's part of it, I'm sure.

But why? Why brand a shirt that's really not that big an XL? So that a girl can look at the label and not buy it because she thinks she should be in something smaller, when in reality it's not that great of a size?

It's pretty obvious, in everything from TV commercials to magazines, the standards society puts on what an appropriate, normal, non-frowned-upon size is.

Small. Petite. Muscular in all the right places. Size XS to M, and absolutely nothing above. I can't tell you how many times I've read a cover with the words: I lost ___ lbs! How I did it! Or Lose Weight Fast This Way.

Over a period of time, way back when, these guidelines were set. And I've heard it before, and you've heard it before, but here it is again: The Perfect Girl is Perfect because she looks healthy. There is nothing visually unpleasant about her.

Except perhaps that strained smile on her face.

Size pressure comes into play with popular brands like Abercrombie and Fitch or Hollister or Aeropostale.

I just had a look for myself on Hollister's website, at the size chart.

The biggest size they offer for women is a Large. In juniors (what most teens wear), that translates to a size 11.

A size 11 girl (by their standards) would have a 30 inch waist. A 38 inch bust. And you know what? That's not that big.

A more disturbing fact: the largest t shirt size they offer for men? An XXL.

So here it is, everyone: one of the most "popular" girl/boy brands, Hollister, only clothes the skinny, perfect people.

And I'd bet you an anything their large isn't even that large.

Here's a girl asking about their offering plus sizes:

What are the statistics on the others?

Abercrombie and Fitch's largest women's size is--you guessed it--Large. Their largest guy size? an XXL.

Here's an article on that:…

The truth is this: Men are accepted as being larger. They do not have the same expectations put on them as women. So what? So he's an XXL. He's a big boy. He's strong. Right?

She's an XXL. She really needs to work on that.

We teenagers of the female kind are expected to be small, perfect, beautiful. We are expected to squeeze into too-tight clothing or, you know, actually fit into those small clothes.

Think about it this way: my XL Orange Crush shirt (which is not really that XL, or even L), wouldn't have been allowed inside the walls of Abercrombie or Hollister.

It makes me sick. And we shouldn't stand for this.

Next time you go to buy clothes, I challenge you to not look at the label. Find the jeans that look like they would fit. Try them on. And you know what? Whether it's a size smaller than you usually are, or two sizes bigger--they'll still fit.

You'll still like them.

They'll look good.

The label doesn't matter. Honestly, it doesn't. Your happiness does. Your health does. Your confidence does.

That XL isn't so large. And you are still beautiful.

Author's age when written

So...I just found out stuff about Abercrombie while Googling for this impromptu essay. Wow. How disturbing. What are your thoughts?


I'm glad you actually took the time to research stuff about it. That's awesome, and everybody appreciates it when there's actual facts...if you know what I'm saying.

In Australia, we don't have those brands, but I've noticed the same thing. With some shops, they just won't stock XL. And the one thing that media is big on is body image. As a consequence, so many girls are totally consumed by the need to be skinny and beautiful. I'm actually writing a poem on it now. :) And actually, my standards are this: If I have to go above my normal size in jeans, (not tops, they're different) I won't buy it. Simple as that. :) But that could also be a pride issue. But hey, it saves money!

Anyway, I liked the way you addressed this. And the starting sentence "It started with folding clothes.".

And I loved how you left links to different sites. Very good.

"And you are still beautiful."

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

This is so true! I don't even pay attention to sizing-I just look for my right size range. Or I just hold it up and if it looks like it'll fit, I'll try it! Lol. Anyway, good essay!

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I'm just like you Erin, when I buy clothes I just eye them, I pretty much have the right eye when it comes to shirts. Now I do look and pants sizes, because too often I buy a too big size (even when they fit perfectly in the dressing room!).
This is a perfect point Homey!
It sucks, because while the media tells us to be skinny, our society makes it completely impossible to be! Sure they have great programs, full of fast weight-loss products and intense exercising, but no one can really keep the weight off for long. Why? Because our society is unhealthy. Just step inside your nearest grocery store, I'm sure the first thing you notice is some cheap half priced sale on Lucky Charms, or Cookies, or Candy or whatever. Further into the store, the only things that really jump out at you with flashy colorful advertisements are the Oreo's, the chips... etc!
When you get into studying our bodies, it's amazing how much things our body just cannot do. Gluten and Sugars are the two major things that create unhealthy and overweight problems, because they are so addictive, they are in EVERYTHING and our bodies cannot process them AT ALL! It's ridiculous!
I totally agree, you are beautiful when you are healthy... and usually you are skinny when you are healthy, it's just one of those natural things. But like you're saying, you shouldn't measure yourself compared to what the media says is the "right" or "wrong" weight. Everyone is different. You have to measure it by your height, and bone structure, which would only make since that girls have a separate weight that is healthy for them compared to guys.
Wonderful free flow essay! Very well written with great advise, beginning, facts and... well everything!!!
Loved it!

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
Write On!

Maddi--Thank you! I appreciate it! :D

Erin--Thank you as well!!

Kass--Well, the point of this essay wasn't weight. It was more about society. The pressures it puts on us. The point I guess I should have made is this--society is marketing an unhealthy body as healthy. Read: tanning (horrible for you), dangerously thin (also not healthy for you), plastic surgeries (definitely not good for you) and the like. Girls are feeding into this. Which is a problem. And clothes companies making their clothing smaller, or eliminating anything above a L is just feeding into the frenzy. I was reading an article today about a new obsession that girls have where they believe that to be healthy/normal you have to have a gap between your thighs. And it said at least 20\% of the girls who suffer anorexia eventually die from it. So it's both ends of the spectrum.

Food has become an enemy as well. Not junk food, but food in general. Instilling a fear of junk food (i.e. being afraid to eat a cheese puff) does not help either. There are already so many girls who avoid it like the plague and thus don't eat anything they perceive to be junk. (So bread's bad for you? No problem--I just won't eat it. Or any starch or carbs at all. Oh! Sugar's bad for you? Okay. Then I won't ever eat another dessert again because 'I don't want to be fat'.) So I guess my point is we should NOT be marketing the healthy body as skinny (because you said 'usually you are skinny when you are healthy' which isn't true...not to be blunt. I know you said usually but a lot of girls right about now are skinny and not healthy at all). I think that's one of society's many mistakes--using the word 'skinny'. It's just one more thing that feeds this sort of monster we've created.

Honestly, I don't believe there is a 'healthy body' in appearance. Because everyone is different. Some people may be naturally thin, and some people may be naturally curvy, but that doesn't mean one is superior to the other (either appearance or health wise). The point here is that people shouldn't be eliminating the possibility of anything above skinny as healthy and/or beautiful. I might also add that a healthy body is one that you don't look at and think, "Oh, she looks skinny." But "she looks strong." :)

So, in your opinion what is "skinny"? Because for me it is the opposite of overweight. My own personal view with the passing word of "skinny" is something more than UBER thin (like stick figure, rib showing) but less than fat (50 pounds heavier than healthy weight).
Also, what is your definition of "fat" or "overweight"? I know I've just TOTALLY made your positive "Love yourself for you who are" essay about weight, and I am sorry about that. But I do want to clear this up.
I'm not saying you should stop eating bread, I'm not saying you should stop eating sugar. I'm saying that your body has difficulty processing these foods, which creates blockages and build-ups, which creates fat. I'm not saying that eating a cookie once in awhile is going to make you swell like a balloon, because if you eat a healthy regular diet of what's nutritious and healthy for your body then your body will flush out that... whatever, that bread, that rice crispy, that piece of cake etc.
You are... the right size for you when you are healthy, which means that you are "skinny" meaning, not underweight, but right where you're weight should be. Does that makes sense at all? I feel like I'm in some heated debate with you :P And honestly, maybe "skinny" isn't the right word to use. It's usually the word that I use for anyone at their perfect, healthy weight... and I'm not talking about the media's "healthy" weight, I'm talking about biological, scientific, holistic healthy weight.
Again, I'm sorry about making this a weight debate, did not intend that. Actually I was agreeing with your essay, just trying to add on a tid-bit. :P If this comment sounds in whatever way offensive, heated, or fierce, it was not meant to be. If you read that way, try reading it again in a sweet agreeing and conversational tone, and then you'll get the message I'm trying to convey. No offense Homey, but your email came off as fierce, heated and defensive, though I'm sure you did not mean it in the slightest. This is a topic which you are very passionate about, and so am I, and so I think our ideals clash a bit ;) Just know that I love you no matter what you consider the "right" weight is or what it is not (I'm sure my opinion is completely "wrong" in your eyes, and that is okay), as long as you know you are beautiful, that is all that matters.
This debating is all in fair heart, and nothing said will be held against you, as I hope my words (whether wise or idiotic to you) are not held against me :D
Love ya SSS!

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
Write On!

Um...haha. I didn't think we were debating. Are we? LOL. I was just replying to what you said. I'm saying skinny is completely the wrong word to use, because it has negative effects on girls our age. Which is what this whole essay was about. The negative effects society is having on teenagers what with their "sizing" and other people dubbing what is acceptable/healthy/beautiful. I guess I also may point out I never said I think there is a "right" weight. I was talking about weight abstractly...more in the sense of how social pressure affects our reaction to it. Really, I hadn't set out to discuss weight or health or anything in regards to it at all. Just clothing sizes, and not in a body-related way at all. Psychologically.

Also just googled "skinny" and this is its definition (via google:…)

warning: I'm bolding 'cause this post is in need of some html. haha

of a person or part of their body) very thin.
"his skinny arms"
synonyms: thin, scrawny, scraggy, bony, angular, rawboned, hollow-cheeked, gaunt, as thin as a rake, skin-and-bones, sticklike, emaciated, waiflike, skeletal, pinched, undernourished, underfed;

So I guess my point is I don't think that's the right word to use. It has negative connotations to it. Again, I'd like to re-affirm that my beliefs are strong equals healthy, not skinny equals healthy.

Look, *holds up hands* I'm not mad or angry or anything. I'm not even going to punch your arm off. *looks at your arm, which lies listlessly on floor* Well, I mean--I accidentally did a few days ago, but even if it was attached I wouldn't have done that. ;)))

*offers sewing kit for arm*

I adore Hollister....the look, the vibe, love it! I hate they're sizing. I laughed at your measurements of their the measurement, it should fit me! And, it fits on my body! But, guess what, I don't need a hoodie that shows my every curve! I like my hoodie to be comfy! So, I will walk proudly to the guy side of the store and get a hoodie. Guess what, I'm not fat! I'm normal! I'll rock that dude's medium and be happy :)

Oh, and I have missed you homey <3

A poem begins as a lump in the thoat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness -Robert Frost
Emilee @

Thank you!! :D I so agree with you, Emilee. And good for you--for liking the store, and buying the guy hoodies! That's awesome!

Aw, thank you! You too! I haven't seen you on here in a while, so yay! I hope you're back (ish?)...if you were ever gone. :)