Sunday, March 02, 2008

How is "0" (Zero) a Size???!!!!

I love a bargain. I take great pride in dressing myself from head to toe for as little money as possible. I am not a snob and I will buy clothes anywhere--Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Filene's Basement, Kohls, consignment shops, the Goodwill, Building 19, Target, K-mart, and, yes, even Walmart. I get a rush when I find a beautiful silk blouse or a designer wrap dress for under $10. I don't think I've every paid more than $30 for a pair of pants, including jeans. Some people probably wouldn't brag about this character trait, but I am who I am. I slept on a pull-out couch with my sister for two years when we were little, my family never ate out unless we had a coupon, and my grandmother still steals packets of Sweet-n-Low to this day. Cheap is in my blood.

So, when I entered T.J. Maxx this past Saturday, I immediately went to the section in the middle of the store with the big red signs hanging from the ceiling. "CLEARANCE!" they shouted at me, drawing me in like a moth to a flame. I actually find it incredibly relaxing, when the kids go with John to spend an hour perusing the clearance racks in search of a bargain. Sometimes, I walk out with a $7 pair of purple shoes, sometimes I walk out with nothing, but it's almost like meditation to just be in the store alone with no where to be, no time to be there, and no one expecting me.

Clearance racks are not organized for the timid or impatient. You're lucky if the shirts are with the shirts and the pants are with the pants. You can't just look in your own size since 2s are sometimes put with the 12s and 14s with the...which is why I had the opportunity to see all the Size 0 pants. What the hell? When did 0 become a size exactly? What happens if a O is too big? Is there a -1? And, why are women a size O? We are WOMEN not girls. We have (or are supposed to have) hips and breasts. Butts and boobs could not possible fit in a Size 0. I actually don't think one of my thighs could fit in both legs of a Size 0 if I cut them down the inseam.

OK. I'm not skinny by anyone's standards but I don't shop at big women's stores either. I generally consider myself average. The only one who has ever called me "fat" is me...mostly inside my own brain when I've just eaten a pint of sorbet all by myself or four Bertuccis rolls after lunch when I find a bag of leftovers just sitting on the "give away counter" at work.

I can see if maybe you're battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy you might be emaciated enough to wear a Size 0. Or maybe you're suffering from anorexia or have a hyper thyroid disease. But, if that's the case, why is the fashion industry creating a Size O for this incredibly small exception to the rule?

I distinctly remember the embarrassment I felt in high school when I went shopping with some friends and I needed to look in the Size 7 jeans. The friends I was with were wearing Size 5. I felt HUGE. Do teenage girls today feel ashamed when they have to shop in the Size 2s? And, more importantly, what will it be like for Ruby?

Ruby is very tall for her age (like I was growing up) and her weight is in proportion to her height. The pediatrician says she's off the charts for height and in the 95th percentile for weight. At 5ft. tall, she towers over most other 8-year-olds in the 3rd grade. She is strong and lean, but is not wearing the size that the littler, shorter girls are wearing. First of all, the pants would all be capris since she has legs that go on for days. Based on her current rate of growth and her genes, Ruby will probably never be a Size O. I hope not.

Zero literally means NOTHING. Who wants to be NOTHING? I don't want my daughter or any other girls to want to be nothing. But...maybe they don't. Hey! Maybe that's why all the Size Os were on the clearance racks at T.J. Maxx! Maybe, the clothing designers are reading reports right now showing that they are writing off millions of dollars in losses for all the Size 0 pants that end up on clearance racks! Maybe, by the time Ruby is going to the mall with her friends, there will be no such thing as a Size 0! Maybe, when Zane is a teenager, his friends and he will be caught checking out the hot girls in Size, 10s, 12s, 14s or even "plus" sizes. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a worldwide revolt that will end with all women wearing sarongs, defeating any reason for clothing sizes!

And maybe, my cat will stand up, walk across the room on two feet, tap me on the shoulder, and ask me what's for dinner.


  1. Has it ever occurred to you that insulting someone who's a size zero, referring to them as "emaciated," is just as cruel as calling someone fat? I'm a size zero and have been for my whole life. I am not a cancer patinet, or anorexic, or in any other way health-compromised, just small. People have no problem walking up to a skinny person and very rudely asking if they are anorexic and telling them to eat a sandwich. Would you walk up to an overweight person and ask them how many Bic Macs they've had today? Rail on them for being a size you consider to be undesirable? Think about it.

  2. I apologize profusely for offending you. That's the problem with opinions and the immediacy of expressing them in a blog. I'm sure I offend conservatives all the time but, frankly....I really don't care. I do care, however, about offending another woman because of her size. You are absolutely right. As a size 12, who pretends to be a size 10, perhaps I'm just jealous...still wishing to be that smaller size. How come, though, when I was a teenager, there were no size 0s? What did you and your naturally thin and small friends wear? Just wondering.
    Again, I'm sorry. You may never see this apology, particularly if you just happened across my blog. If you have MS, though, and you liked it before reading this essay and found it helpful, I hope you will come back and continue to share YOUR opinions when they differ from my own.
    Lazy Julie

  3. Well, Julie, I too never saw a size 0 on the racks when I was a teen. I am 54 now and actually know women who wear size 0 - one is my son's godmother. She's 4ft 11 and weighs about 80 pounds (give or take) and has room to spare in the size 0.

    As far as others being insulted by your blogging about the size, it was nice to offer the apology if anonymous ever comes back to read it.

    I have been slammed on my blog for MY opinions and rather than start a ruckus (and stress me out via MS), I choose to just not publish their comments. If my visitors never come back to my blog, I don't care. If they can't accept MY opinion, they can read elsewhere.

    But it was very nice of you to apologize. You are a much better woman than I in that regard.

  4. Ann,
    It's so funny that you praise me for being nice. I only saw you comment when I came back to supplement mine with one that was not so nice. :-)
    Here's what I was thinking, and apparently am now adding:

    People who are overweight, particularly the obese, do not get jobs because of their weight. Have you ever heard of a "naturally thin" Size O who did not get a job because of her weight. Comparing fat descrimination with Size O descrimination is not an apples to apples comparison. I stand by my apology but I also think that a creative non-fiction writer is not doing her job if she doesn't offend someone.
    Blog on, skinny minnies, large and lovelies, and everyone in between.
    Lazy Julie

  5. I read your article in the "Lola" magazine today and wanted to pass along some information.

    My husband has MS. He use to take Beta Seron shots but they made him too ill so he stopped on his own.

    However, we did research many years ago about MS and read that in England many doctors prescribed Primrose Oil. So my husband started taking Primrose Oil daily - about 4-5 tablets per day. He has not had any major problems with his MS for years. The only time he did was when he was unemployed and couldn't afford to purchase Primrose Oil. He had an attack that made him very ill, etc.

    Doctor's will not recommend it nor will they say it will help. I just wanted you to have this information. I would have wanted someone to share it with me if I had been recently diagnosed with MS.

  6. Thanks very much, Anonymous Wife of a Gentleman with MS! I am going to go get some Primrose oil today. What could it hurt?! Please tell your husband I'm happy he's well.
    Lazy Julie