36-24-36

Recently Chris and I were talking about how easy it is for men to pick out clothes. Obviously there are many reasons, and you can yay or nay them based on the person or your personal opinion, but the most glaring or obvious to me is that for a man a size 34 is a size 34 is a size 34. No, those are not typos. I wrote in that way for emphasis. A woman’s size 8 is not a woman’s size 8. Even within the same company a women’s size 8 is vastly different, and from company to company it is grossly different.

Chris can go into a store, not try on a single item, make a purchase and be happy. I do not have that luxury. I have to try everything on and even then I am slightly (or maybe more than slightly) indecisive about making a purchase. Sometimes the day I try something on it fits fine and when I come home and try something on a day or so later it fits differently.

Alas, the dilemma of shopping as a woman. Our conversation about clothes, sizing, and fit made me think about Marilyn Monroe. I started wondering about her and what was considered beautiful in the 1950’s. After a bit of research, what I learned was a bit mind-boggling and I think that says something about our society. You can read full details here, but in the 1950’s Marilyn was a size 12-16. I know that is a big range, but as you look at pictures (or if you were around to remember her) you would think “she was not a 12-16.” As the article states in the 1980’s, the Department of Commerce changed our sizing (umm…can we say how vain we have gotten). A size 16-18 in the 1950’s is equivalent to a size 8 today. A big difference. The article even states:

“Those measurements were 5 ft. 5.5 inches tall; 35 inch bust; 22 inch waist (approximately 2-3 inches less than the average American woman in the 1950s and 12 inches less than average today); and 35 inch hips, with a bra size of 36D.”

Marilyn had a 22 inch waist, and the average today is 35 inches. Shocking. That is a crazy difference. Regardless of all the changes to sizing from the 1950’s to today, it is still a man’s world. Most of the time a woman cannot go into a store, grab her size, pay and leave. Is it time for a size revolution?

Too young or too old?

Last night I was in a store and the woman asked what I was looking for, and if she could help me. I gave her my usual response: “I am just looking.” Unless I cannot find what I think I should be able to find, or I need a different size, I am a leave-me-alone kind of shopper. She then proceeded to ask me if I had any kids and if I was back-to-school shopping. I was a bit shocked about the question (the age for the store would be a tween store). Did she really think I was that old?

While it is completely numerically possible for me to have a tween, and even a kid in college (yikes). I believe it is the first time that I have ever been asked if I was back-to-school shopping for children I do not have. Maybe I was a bit more shocked because just mere weeks ago I was carded while out with work colleagues. When the woman saw how old I was I could see she was shocked. I then asked her how old she thought I was, and she said under 30.

While I should be flattered by her subtracting 6+ years from my life, the entire age thing baffles me. How can one individual think I look much younger than I am, and another potentially assume I have a tween. I know I am stretching the store comment a bit (and I know I had crazy bags under my eyes after a long day and week), but I am perplexed. After getting carded, I could not get over it. Those with me told me it is a compliment and I can see what they mean, but does it also mean that I act younger than I should?

Or, should I just shut up and be grateful that the waitress took years off my life and know that years from now I will look back and want someone to do that for me again?