To confirm: I do not wear, nor have I ever worn, size 0. Even when I might have been tiny enough to do it–like, 5th grade–I was too tall. (Ugh. The middle/high school years were all about trying to find pants that went down to my ankles. This was back before longer inseams were everywhere. I would literally spend years searching for a pair of jeans that hit the floor, only to succeed with a pair of bell-bottoms in 1998.)
For whatever reason, these denim shorts at the mall had a tag that said size 0. I knew before I even tried them on that they weren’t actually size 0-sized. So when I fit into them, I wasn’t too surprised. It didn’t mean much to me, except that I could write a blog post about fitting into a size 0 pair of shorts.
But it made me think about all of the other girls for whom it may mean so much more. For those girls who torture themselves to be thin, for those girls who have always thought wearing a single-digit-sized pair of pants would forever be out of reach, being able to put on those shorts and actually zip them up would probably be a big deal.
And that made me think about how messed up it is. I am very fortunate to have never had to worry about being overweight (too tall for regular skirts and too flat for regular bathing suits, yes, but not too fat). So I’ll never truly understand the sort of misery women go through to be skinny, thinking that because someone, somewhere, once decided that’s what looks good, they must now devote their entire lives to getting closer to that ideal. But I know it must be awful.
What I don’t know is why it has to be that way. Why does it have to take decades of a woman’s life before she realizes the size doesn’t actually matter? Why can’t she grow up understanding that people are created in all sorts of sizes and shapes, and the one that looks best on that girl over there may not work for her? Why is this even an issue?
Blame it on America’s crawl toward higher and higher obesity percentages if you want, but that’s not the cause. I don’t even blame “the fashion industry” like I’m supposed to. Because really, it comes from inside. Outside factors nurture these thoughts and help them thrive, but they begin within.
So I wondered, as I stood in front of the mirror wearing size 0, whether something on the outside could help fix the problem. If I bought 100 pairs of these shorts and distributed them to women around me, would our collective self esteem improve just a little bit? I think it would be silly if it did, and I think it’s terrible that something so superficial can affect how we feel about ourselves, but I also think if that’s all it takes, then our collective self worth is not yet irretrievably doomed.