Why the heck is a size 14 an extra large?!

Yesterday, I ordered a black leather jacket and a t-shirt from an online shop. I had no clue which size to get as, all of us female humans probably know from experience, a size in one shop can be different from the next. But, to my annoyance, when they arrived today (their delivery service is good, I’ll give them that), they were too tight so I had to send them back. Okay it was annoying but it was easy enough to return them. However, I was curious about why they didn’t fit, and the issue came when I had another look at their online size guide.

Before ordering them I estimated from some of the measurements that I would need a medium for both. Depending on the shop, I tend to need either a 12, 14 or for some tops if I want it be a bit baggier so I can slob around in it, a 16. In my experience a medium is normally a 12 or 14. But on this website’s chart, they listed a 16 as ‘XL’.



Yes. 16. Extra Large. I would say that I was shocked, but I had a worse experience when I was back home over the Christmas holidays. I decided to get some more jeans from my local mall. I picked a pair of size 14 ones from Zara. To my horror they had a long label on the leg that said ‘XL’ all the way down the thigh…


I was pretty horrified with myself. I stood there and I thought, ‘Am I extra large?’

My brother being his usual self found it funny when I told him. I know that’s just because we like taking the piss out of each other. As we sat in Wetherspoons I did my best to see the funny side and laugh it off, but it still kept niggling at me for the rest of the day. And after my experience today, it’s really got me thinking about how ridiculous it is. I’m sorry brother, but it’s really not a laughing matter.


Size guide

Obviously we need a size guide for our clothes, otherwise we wouldn’t know what would fit us. But to say that someone is extra large? I personally found it hurtful. In one label, they had decided everything I should think about my body, and that is not okay. Not one bit.

In that one moment my confident shrank to the size of a baby pea. Suddenly all the flab on my hips seemed to double in size, and my chubby cheeks made my head rounder than a football and my face was blotchy and my thighs were huge and I just wanted to get the hell out of there because I wasn’t thin enough for them.

In this one moment I was questioning my whole body image. That’s all because one shop decided to have their XL as size 14. I also appreciate that when I go to other shops a medium will fit me and that I could have got my medium Les Miserables t-shirt in a small because really its quite baggy. Different shops judge size differently. But the truth is, I let them become the judge of me and I shouldn’t have. No shop should judge what is small or large or extra large. They should have the sizes and that’s it. I believe that a numbered size and a letter – ‘S’, ‘M’ or ‘L’ – have completely different effects.



For example, someone might need a 14 because they have long legs and a small waist. Does that make them large? Someone in the fashion industry might say, “Of course it doesn’t because they’re thin”. So why should they be categorised as extra large? And if someone is the reverse, with a waist that would fit a 14 but with smaller legs, why should they be categorised as extra large when the length of their legs aren’t? All this whole system does is make people question how skinny they are. I think it’s all about promoting skinniness to be the only form of beauty. I’ll make it clear now that I am not here to slag off people who are skinny. You’re bodies are as beautiful just like everyone else. My point is, sometimes needing a bigger size isn’t about how thin you are, it’s about all of our bodies being different and requiring different things out of our clothes.

It’s not up to them to decide what is large. But it is up to me to not let them decide how I should feel about my body. I felt ashamed of how I looked, but the shame should be on you, Zara.

Be confident, don’t let them label you like they did me.

From the young M.A. Garrett.



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