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Women are obsessed with numbers

Women are obsessed with numbers. This is not a good thing, writes Sarah Hannah Fisher.

Take a second to digest my statement. Women are obsessed with numbers. What!? You say. No I’m not! I hated maths! If women were obsessed with maths, that would be great, but that's not what I mean.

Let me ask you some questions. How much do you weigh? What clothes size are you? Shoe size? How many fat grams in your favourite desert? How many cms is your waist? What is your BMI? How tall are you? How tall/short is your favourite celebrity and how much does she weigh? How old are you? How old do you want to look? How many calories are in your dinner tonight?

My guess is that you will know the answer to at least one of those questions. I told you. Numbers! Me? I know the answers to all of those.

Women tend to live their lives with numbers in the back of their heads. Size and weight are splashed over the covers of almost every magazine you pick up and inevitably inside them too.

My wardrobe has so many sizes inside that if you were some kind of alien looking at the size tags of all my garments, you would never be able to guess what size I actually am. In the past five years I have been a size 6 and a size 14, with everything in between, and my closet reflects this. While that may say something more about me and my past illnesses (and my inability to let go of certain items) I will bet that your own wardrobe tells a similar story.

There was a time when my eyes would prickle with tears if I didn’t fit into a certain size and my mood would plummet. I would get a similar effect if the scale read above a certain number. Looking back now, I want to give the younger version of myself a big shake and a slap. The size tag on your clothes is irrelevant.

There are no standardized clothing sizes in Australia, which is where I live. This means that as a manufacturer, you can slap a size 10 tag on whatever the hell you want. This makes shopping a hard task, especially if you are hung up on your body image. This, sadly, is a lot of women. That’s if the manufacturer even uses the standard 8, 10, 12 sizing instead of 0-4 or XS- XL. And don’t even get me started on shopping vintage or the effort involved in trying to work out what size you fit into overseas.

The last research into sizing standards in Australia was based on a study done in 1929. It was revised in 1970. So, there is no surprise that the data it reveals is useless. Everyone knows that the general shape of women and men has changed drastically in the last 30 years. We are bigger now. We know this. And yet Australia lags behind other countries in developing a new, relevant study for clothing standards.

Until that happens, as consumers we just need to be aware of the fact that different stores have different sizes. Stores will base their sizes on their target audience and then use vanity sizes to make us feel better and thus want to spend more: “Ohmigod, I am a size 10 in Country Road! Wheee!” Girls who regularly shop at Supre will have a different body shape than the shoppers at Cue. It seems obvious, but why do we still have hang ups about the fact that a size 4 Zimmermann dress is too tight across the hips? And don't get me started on the whole size 'zero' thing.

Numbers are exact, precise and direct. But the human body cannot be described by numbers, or explained by figures. The human body cannot be truly categorized because every one is different and unique.

You are not your clothing size. And you are certainly not 'zero' or 'nothing'.

Sarah Hannah Fisher is a 25-year-old writer from Sydney. A passionate animal rights activist, she also loves writing about the relationships between fashion, pop culture, body image, mental illness and the media. By day she is the editorial co-ordinator for the beauty website Primped but come nightfall she's reading the latest book on her 'to read' list and enjoying a glass (or three) of red wine. You are most likely to find her asleep under her doona covers dreaming about Wonderland or voicing her opinions through her blog, Death Wears Diamond Jewellery.



0 #1 wordofprey 2009-12-07 05:21
You are a wonderful writer, Sarah Hannah. If only women's magazines had more writers like you, I'd buy them! This could be my thoughts exactly.

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