Today call me large

Today call me large, at least according to the participant shirt I received from the sponsors of the L.A. Marathon I ran in 2010. I chose to wear the hard-earned shirt for this morning’s run; and as I slipped it on, I was catapulted back to the March afternoon I stood outside Dodger stadium waiting to sign in at the race expo.

After receiving my official bib and promo-bag, I headed to the shirt-distribution tables. I’d requested a Medium at registration, but the volunteer glanced up and said, “Oh honey. You’re a Large,” before tossing me white polyester and a wink.

“Thanks,” I said, grabbing the four safety pins I’d need to affix the bib to my clothes on race day. Then, because the forecasters were predicting heat, I bought a tank top just in case.

I picked Size L, of course, as I’d been told.

marathon shirts

These are my souvenirs; do they look large to you?

I realize people expect measurements to be skewed in the world of running; many assume that anyone taking to his or her feet for 26.2 miles must be rail-thin. But if you have participated in or even watched a race, you know runners of all shapes and sizes hit the streets. In fact, a good percentage of entrants in a race of any length are there because they’re working on weight control, getting fit, making a change.

Believe me, I have no problem wearing a Large; but I knew there’d be a segment of women at the expo that day who were bigger than I was stepping up to the tables to claim their shirts. What would they be told when the volunteers glanced at them?

Unfortunately, such size discrepancy isn’t  exclusive to race-wear; and these days, it heads in both directions.

I have jeans that currently fit but come in drastically different sizes because many manufacturers have begun assigning smaller numbers to bigger measurements in order to “flatter” their customers.

Here are four different sizes that slip on equally well but span seven numbers. Can you correctly guess which pair is the biggest/smallest?

I realize variations exist between brands; however three of these are from the same designer, purchased in different years. And this inconsistency serves to both lower and raise expectations of thinness at the same time.

It can’t be helpful (physically or emotionally) for a woman who’s working toward a healthy weight to be misled into thinking she’s prematurely reached her goal; nor is it realistic (physically or emotionally) for a size-6 woman to think she should suddenly be a 2 because brands have started cutting their clothes larger.

Accommodating designers add size 0 and 00; tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

But herein lies the disconnect: we are a nation of body-loathers who – instead of getting thinner – are statistically growing more overweight. Our real-size spectrum contains dangers at both ends: eating disorders on one, obesity-related complications on the other.

It’s a battle we’ve made difficult to win. And if I’ve become the barometer for Large, who can blame overweight women and men for feeling perpetually defeated? Conversely, in a world of inflated/deflated double-zeros, the already-thin may continue to seek ever-smaller sizes.

Instead of inaccurate numbers or vague S, M, L, XL designations, I’d love more descriptive sizes for shoppers who require inspiration with their fitness and their fit; big blank tags that we could fill in for ourselves.

Imagine a new mom wearing a size Hooray! I can see my toes again!

At the holidays we’d choose It’s Thanksgiving. Waistbands can suck it.

But then try on New Year, New Body. Go!

Perhaps one of these sizes would apply to you: Thanks for the good metabolism, Mom. Or Thanks, I work my ass off at the gym for this body. I have made an effort to cure my masturbation addiction too.

Or how about this one as a goal: My partner thinks I’m sexy and I’m trying to believe.

So tell me, friends. If you could, what description would you write onto the blank tags of your clothes?  If they were being honest, my pants would admit this:

I often eat healthfully. Sometimes I eat cake.

I know. It is a mouthful.

Of the most delicious kind.

Last Modified on December 7, 2017
This entry was posted in Life
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76 thoughts on “Today call me large

  1. Okay, so you need to submit this one to be featured on BlogHer. Go do it. Before I, er, figure out your BlogHer login? And, er, submit as you? Not that would be, er, creepy?


  2. You are so freaking cool. And only large in the “and in charge” sense. Plus, you were racing in L.A. so I’m surprised they even carried so-called size large.

    I would like pants in size “Carbs are not the enemy” and also “I love the junk in my trunk.”

    As for those jeans, 2nd from the left smallest, far left biggest? Do I win something? Maybe a belt with extra notches?

  3. I don’t know — I enter every race, at any length, fully anticipating being the biggest person there. Yeah, there will be people of all shapes & sizes . . . but I’m used to being singled out as “the big guy.” I try to use that as motivation to leave people behind on the course . . . but, you know, 26.2 miles is a long, long way.

    With all of that said, I love men’s sizing.

    The “my partner thinks I’m sexy, and I’m trying to believe” couldn’t be more apt for me, by the way 🙂

  4. Whooph. Man. That’s quite a question. Mine would say, “You try being pregnant for two years straight, dammit!” or “Perfectly imperfect,” or, “Proudly chasing 3 toddlers around day and night!” or “What?!? I’m Italian!” or, jeez, I could go on all day here. I’ll quit while I’m ahead, because I have quite a lot to say about this topic. 😉

  5. Mel

    Having recently had bariatric surgery and now closing in on having lost 35 lbs, I’d go with a tag that says, “I think I can! I think I can!”. Great post!

  6. My tags would say, “My thyroid and depression are directly responsible for the size of these pants.” or, “I am really stressed this week, so I’ve been eating carbs.” or, “Can you tell I’ve been doing my Jillian Michaels’ DVD daily for the last few weeks?”

    Amazing post, Julie.

  7. Kate is right! Submit it, it’s a great post!

    I think size 00 is BS, kind of sick, actually. Feeling good about yourself is probably different for each and every person – everyone has his/her sweet spot. Maybe that would be a label: sweet spot.

  8. Nikki

    I need, “I’m three months pregnant” jeans. You know how toddlers have those adjustable waistbands in their jeans? I need some of those.

  9. (I just tried to comment but I think my first comment disappeared)

    I agree with Kate, you should submit this to BlogHer, it’s awesome!

    I think that size 00 is BS, kind of sick actually. It’s all about feeling good in your body, with yourself, and that’s probably different for each and everyone. So my label: Sweet Spot.

  10. Absolutely perfect post! Wow, I’m glad somebody wrote this and I’m not even the slightest bit surprised it was you, lovely Julie! I’m a big girl, and I constantly fight the scale, exercise, dieting and back troubles. I have jeans in 4 sizes that all fit me, so I totally get what you’re saying.
    If I could write a jean size for myself it would be:

    Upright. Moving forward. And Proud!

    Thanks Julie! Awesome post.

  11. Mine would be, “I accommodate days when you need that donut. And ice cream. And cupcake.”

  12. How about: “These may not be in style anymore but–Hey! They still fit!”

  13. I love this. Mine would be “just pretend these yoga pants are designer jeans.”

  14. Sherri

    Bingo. This has been irking me for quite some time now…this numbers game we all play in our heads.

    I like your sizes much better, my dear smart friend.

  15. Di

    I always like the label “Guess” even though that was a brand and not a size! Do I recognize any of those pants in your photo?

  16. Oh, how I love this post!! I think body image is such a hard thing to conquer in our lives, and it has been a constant struggle for me after having my baby. Instead of always feeling defeated by the sizes on my clothes that are so much larger than my pre-baby body, I would love to see a tag that says, “You are still beautiful.”

    Love this idea.

  17. My tag: I left my waistline at the hospital while giving birth.

  18. steph

    I am a big fan of comfy Chico’s clothing, especially that the only sizes are 0 – 3. Not to flatter, but to make it easier. I have been wearing GAP jeans since middle school and every couple years I go down a size. Unless I am the incredibly shrinking woman, they change up their sizing so that people will keep buying.

  19. Oooh, I love this. My shirt would totally say: This body had triplets. I’m also contemplating a tattoo stating the same but them I would have to wear belly tops which may not be the best idea.

  20. You said this so, so well. I am so frustrated by needing to try on anything between a size 8 and a size 13. At 5′ 8″ and 150 lbs, I am not overweight (at least not by more than 10 lbs). I do need to exercise because, hey, it is good for you and I need to tone the flab starting to show up everywhere! But everytime I have to buy a 13 I immediately think “OMG! I am so fat!!” Stupid I know 🙁

  21. Tisha

    To echo the others: I love this post. And mine would say “It doesn’t matter how much I exercise and eat right, I’m just built this way–and I’m trying to accept that.”

  22. You speak the truth, sister. My mom cut out all size tags for this very reason. This is a very timely and well written post! What do you think of the European waist measurement sizing?

  23. Abby

    A friend of mine has a t-shirt that says, “I can grow people. What’s your super power?” I think that pretty much says it all.

    Great post!

  24. I’m all over this idea. My tag would say, “Thank you for bringing me this far.”

    And “Self love is the new size 2.”

    (Why does everything I write sound vaguely masterbatory?)


  25. They fit. Good enough.

    I think that should be my motto.

  26. If Erin Margolin had not already submitted this for BlogHer’s Voices of the Year, I would. Excellent post with an excellent point.

    I bought two swimsuits at Target last weekend – both tankinis. For one, the bottoms were a Medium and the top was a Small (which made me feel distinctly pear-shaped, even though I’m not). Yet for the other one, the bottoms were a Large and the top was a Medium. Riddle me that one.

    I’ve learned not to put much stock into sizing. I know that Mossimo clothes at Target tend to run teeny tiny on me and therefore I generally wear a Large, just as I know White House/Black Market is much kinder in their fit and therefore I need a Small. But above all, I know that I’m essentially the same size as I’ve been since college, only a little flabbier.

    So, I guess my tag would read, “Naturally thin… but I do need to hit the gym.”

  27. KGM

    Wow, Julie. You nailed this one. I’m the one who shows up, gets the XL shirt and then needs to stretch it over my so-NOT-made-for-jogging chest. Sort of a depressing way to start an athletic adventure! And my jeans tag would say “If I was on Biggest Loser I’d be happily showing off this body.” As it is, I struggle every day to like it, but it’s good to keep things in perspective.

    Great post, as usual!

  28. Ok, you win…this one literally choked me up. I followed a tweet posted by Sherri and here I am. Love the “Partner thinks I’m sexy and am trying to believe,” hits it right on the head. But my other tag would be, “If it weren’t for bad luck my family would have none, and I only eat when I’m stressed so you do the math.”

    But I’m trying.

  29. AllyT

    You. are. awesome. Loved this so much! And I loved the responses. Clearly you have hit a nerve here. As a 5 foot 10 female with size 10 1/2 shoes, I have been made to feel like a freak of nature by the fashion industry for years. There are certain major department stores I refuse to shop at because I leave there angry, feeling like Andre the giant.

  30. I’ve been saying this for years – that the sizes keep getting smaller. Ticks me off. And I agree with everyone who’s said this needs to be submitted! DO IT!

  31. Standing up in my size LARGE pants to applaud you and this post! Absolutely LOVE it. Thank you. Amen.
    You know my favorite part about shopping at Chico’s (shameless and gross, I know) is that I can buy a “1”. Right? Ick. Thanks a lot Vogue and Cosmo and Shape and Self and all you other fashion magazines. Oh and Hollywood, I should really thank you.
    This is awesome, and I am totally sharing it RIGHT NOW!

  32. I completely agree. I ordered three large t-shirts last summer and they were so tight, I thought maybe it isn’t the size, Large is how I look in them…

  33. “I must I must I must decrease my butt”

    Ok, kidding. The point of your post wasn’t lost on me, I do read them (and love them). I admit to buying into vanity sizing. Last week I totally bought a small pair of yoga pants because they said “small”. Unfortunately post washing they weren’t exactly flattering. My 13 year old who is truly a small was more than happy to take them off my hands.

  34. Mine say “Back away from the mini eggs.”

    Fabulous post, my friend. xo

  35. My pants would say:
    “I have given birth twice; I’m just happy these zip.”

    And then I would buy the ones that say:
    “My partner thinks I’m sexy and I’m trying to believe him.”

  36. Oh! The “my partner thinks I’m sexy and I’m trying to belive” would be a perfect fit!

    Also, I participated in a 10K a year after giving birth to my daughter. I’m not naturally a runner. In fact, running and I go together like orange juice and tomato soup. BUT it was for a very good cause, so I put on my sneakers, trained for a couple months and then hit the beach.

    In my size XXXL shirt.

    Which, by the way, was not the size I was wearing elsewhere.

    Damn boobs.

  37. I think this might be the most brilliant thing you have ever written. I know at the very least it hits home hard with me. I think my waistband might read “you’re precious in spite of the world’s standards and you falling short of it” or “the waist(less) band together” or something equally half-heartedly comforting.

  38. Sublime. This should be framed and given to all women.

    And yes, damn it! We should be able to fill in our own tags.

    I am of the average size, I think? I range from a 4 when I’m kicking ass on a regular basis at the gym, to an 8 when I’m writing and doing nothing else. Except eating cake. But I have noticed for the last few years, that Large is the new Medium in many shirts. I ordered a shirt recently and the size guide said Large-size 8-10. Isn’t that sad?

    Hmmm, I think mine would say, “This body has gestated, carried, birthed and fed three babies. My size is inconsequential. My heart, however, is XXXL. Now where is that cake?”

    I would need a pretty big tag.

  39. You would think that my label would be “Just Be Enough” but really, it would probably read, “Yes I had Nutella today.” Love this!

  40. I am baffled by the “large” t-shirt whose size roughly translates into “Piece of cloth that covers my left boob”. I cannot tell you how often I’ve had that experience. Which leaves me feeling that even my assets, ahem, are grotesquely unacceptable. It is insane & sad when clothing manufacturers do that to consumers.

    Do you realize how absolutely brilliant your idea is? Seriously. You need to connect with a clothing manufacturer and get on this. It would revolutionize shopping. I have struggled with weight & clothing size differentiation my whole life so this is a topic near and dear to me.
    How about: “Bet you had no idea you could look this hot in a pair of jeans, did you?”
    or, “I know what your mother said about stripes, but I think you look awesome.”
    Also, “Angelina Jolie has a bony ass, who the hell wants to look like that?”

    Nuff said. xo

  41. Julie! I just wrote about this and have it set to run in a few weeks. I will link to your article. I had a terrible dressing room experience recently, and I thought all the same things you did. What if this woman said what she said to me to a person who is depressed? Or who just had a baby? Or was heavy because she was taking medications to treat a cancer that made her puffy. Wowzer.

    We have to start to value what is inside peope: their good deeds, their kindnesses. These are worth their weight in gold, and I’d gladly rate a large in that area.

    Well done.

  42. Mine would say Size: Strong. (But don’t get carried away with the Easter candy, lady.)

    It drives me nuts when I have to buy a much bigger size in a fitted t-shirt (the smaller sizes sometimes look like children’s sizes to me… Hello, I’ve finished puberty and have the expected outcome on my chest). It drives me equally crazy when I pick up the wrong size jeans because the designer has changed their sizing to fool us into feeling skinny.

    I know when I feel good, healthy, and fit. And I know when I don’t. So the actual sizes don’t really bother me – just numbers. But it is irritating that none of us have any idea what size we really are. Clothing manufacturers are more interested in the bottom line than in our bottom line.

  43. A-friggen-men! This is wonderful Julie…and creating these t-shirts sounds like a fabulous side gig to me 😉

  44. Mine would say, “F*ck you, Express Stores, for not carrying any size larger than a 12. I’m never shopping here again. Even though I am a size 12, and hope to be a little smaller some point soon.”

    Fantastic post. Thanks, Cheryl Rosenberg, for sharing it on fb.

  45. Dammit, Julie. Here I am, actually weeping at this post, because right now the size “My husband thinks I’m beautiful and I’m working on that notion myself” fits perfectly, but very few of the pretty things I see in stores do. When a mall containing more than 100 clothing retailers is reduced to one store you can shop in because the clothing and the price tags are both appropriate (I exaggerate not at all… ONE. STORE.), there is something wrong.

    When even when I was lean and strong and able financially and physically to exercise, I was a size 14 and told by a J Crew employee that a “girl my size” might have better luck buying jeans elsewhere, there is much wrong.

    Thanks for voicing this.

  46. Jess

    Oh! How lovely this is! Just as you are.

    My tag would say “I run sporadically so I can come home and eat a spoonful of hot fudge topping.”

    Or maybe “I’m squishy because I carried two phenomenal kids.”

    Or even “I try not to lose too much weight because brand new wardrobes are too expensive.”

  47. so adorable and so perfect for BlogHer or Aiming Low. I agree. I’m size “Krispy Kreme lives down the block.”


  48. Love this post, J.

    Try shopping in Thailand. In Canada, I typically wear a size L t-shirt from The Gap. Sometimes a medium. When I lived in Thailand, I didn’t fit into a XXL for women. Fortunately the had good tailors for work clothes.

    But what would I have my label say? “I carried two healthy babies to term. At once.” OR “Sassy at any size.” OR “My brain and my attitude make me sexy.”

  49. I SO LOVE this post.
    Also: great minds think alike. I was mentally writing a post that could be titled: “My partner thinks I’m sexy and I’m trying to believe him.”
    So thanks, I think I’ll finish it with a shout out to the hot grammar lady!

    I <3 YOU!

  50. Christy H.

    I had triplets, and yes, I will eat the last piece of cake. That’s my size.

  51. Oh, so spot on. This is very timely for me. I was buying jeans at the Gap today. . . baby is 5 months old and I bought a few pairs in a size FOUR. I don’t think I’ve EVER been a 4 and I’m certainly not one now. Except there. On the flip side, at Lulu Lemon where I also tried on stuff today, I was a 10 on top and an 8 on the bottom. In most clothes, I’m about a 6. So go figure. 😉

  52. I love you. And cake, I think I might love you more. Mostly I’d love to have cake with you. And wine – in my fat pants.

  53. The jean layout is so smart! And that you have them by the same designers is brilliant. This is a great post- I remember being so excited to be a size 4 and even a 2- but getting fitted for a bridesmaid’s dress, they told me I was an 8. I wanted to punch them. Who cares? I was still slim! Now, I’d be happy to squeeze into that 8. haha!

  54. Love this!!!

    My size might be “bigger, but better than before”

    Oh and one of the reasons I love running is because there is no weight or size requirement. Everyone can do it!!!

  55. Mommakiss

    Brilliant, and here’s to our kids understanding this “size” insanity.

    My size would be “yes, I have the CPA spread(ass) but smart is sexy”

  56. Love this! Shared on my FB page. A 00 doesn’t actually help anyone’s self esteem. Who wants to be two zeros? Cake pants. Pretty sure I have a few of those.

  57. Oh I struggle with the sizes! I am in between a M and L in regular old unisex tshirts, but so many people always assume that women want the slim fit women’s tshirts, where even an XL won’t fit me. And while I do need to lose several pounds, I am no grossly overweight. So I often wonder what people larger than I am do. I went to a PBS Kids event and had to fanagle a large mens shirt because the dude assumed I wanted a womens(I got both — the womens large is SKIN TIGHT on me).

    And as for the vanity sizing, how ridiculous is that? What is the point of making someone think they went down a size? Especially since we all KNOW that you’re using vanity sizing?

    My tag would read: “It fits. That is all”

  58. I’m happy to see your site is working. I tried to click over the other day and you weren’t here! I was all dismayed since I was so looking forward to hanging out with your words. Anyway, you’re here and I’ve caught up!
    The size thing has gone beyond the ridiculous, right? I’m not sure what my tag should say…something like…whatever? Or a big chocolate/caramel covered apple because I’m partial to those. I love yours.
    You rocked this post. And I don’t use rock lightly. Maybe because I feel old when I use it as if I’m trying to be cool…or something. Anyway, it’s a great and needed post.

  59. My favorite doctor calls that handful of flab permanently stuck to my post pregnancies’ waist my, “Badge of Motherhood.” That could be a whole department store section filled with “Women’s waists expand 2″ from sunup to sunset,” and “No one wants to see a muffin top.”

  60. third time I’ve read this.

    I think I have that body morphic disprder where you think you look completely different than you actually do. I wear between a medium and a large in clothes. I feel like Im a triple XXX. I’ve never like my body or thought I was hot or whatever that means to a guy.

    This post spoke to me because of how honest it was, and even as a male, I relate. Thanks.

  61. I don’t understand why sizes don’t just come in actual measurements like they do for men.

    But since we’re naming our pants, which was really touching, btw, I think mine would be “Fried chicken and yoga.”

  62. This skinz from my twinz. Worth it.

    Hehehe… see what I did there with the rhyming?

    As a young girl who went from elementary to size 12 almost over night my Mother taught me how to dress. Never caring about the number on the tag just the look in the mirror. I’m grateful for that. I have everything from 8-14 to in my closet too. I know there are more people NOT like this though and it does make me sad for them. How can anyone feel successful when our “plus” size models are a size 12?

  63. Oh, how I would love to ‘name’ my own size. Although, I’m not sure what I’d put right now, but I definitely hope to fit into some ‘hot mama’ jeans soon. 😉 I’ve often thought about the side of the argument where sizes are becoming just so darn small – I’ve seen a large fit a size 6 girl before and that’s just ridiculous. But, I never thought of the other side of the coin until this post. Awesome perspective for both sides of sizing. I truly do feel you’re on to something here!

  64. liz

    It’s like they are European sizes! That’s the only thing I can think of that could reasonably explain that.

  65. I love this post because it claims body image as our own, rather than society’s.

    “Waistbands can sick it.” – I die.

    I think my ideal size would be “My best.”

    And that is all.

    (I love this one Julie, so very much.)

    The size hooray – oh my gosh I love it!
    I loved this entire post!!!
    Have a pretty day!

  67. Wendy @ mama one to three

    One of my favorite subjects– women are so emotionally abused by fashion. Having my own long sordid history with size I truly relate to and love this post. I am not so free yet from this bondage — my pants still say “will you love me today?” when I put them on. They are size “undecided” for sure, for now.

  68. Eric C

    “And if I’ve become the barometer for Large, who can blame overweight women and men for feeling perpetually defeated?”
    I’m totally introducing you as “My cousin Julie, the barometer for large” from now on. Great post and obviously one that has touched a nerve. Weight is such a devil, and nothing about it’s description is kind.
    Keep up the awesome work!

  69. I would take my clothes in the size of “have another martini, these will stil fit tomorrow.”

  70. Fab idea-mine would be “stop looking at my waist and focus on my smile”. I worked in a men’s clothing store for years, and I agree with another comment that it would be so much easier to shop by measurements! That way they would be sorta consistent….but then you would have the Levi tag thing where you would ink out the waist size if you were embarrassed, and now I am back in junior high.

  71. Oh boy, the line “Or how about this one as a goal: My partner thinks I’m sexy and I’m trying to believe.” just hit me where it hurts (in the good way). I’ve certainly been there. I think my pants label would say, “I’m too long for you but you will buy me anyway and will neglect to ever hem me. Ever.” I’m short, and even “petite” pants are never short enough. Ah well. 😉

  72. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me if I’ve lost weight. Or told me I’m too thin. Or sickly. Or rolled their eyes at the size of my jeans they happen to crane their necks to see just before I slip them on. Sometimes I eat healthy because my health issues demand it. And sometimes I eat cake. And Twix. And buttery butter dipped in butter. I is what I is. But shopping can cause me to think twice about what others have said to me (labeling me). Varying sizes can make me wonder if I haven’t actually been losing weight accidentally or getting old and packing on the pounds. Finding a larger size (or too small size) that fits me can totally throw me. Honestly, there’s far too much focus on a number or stupid little letters that depict girth or lack of it. I like your sizes better. Lets look inward to how we feel (or how we want to feel). And while we’re at it, let’s stop offering our own labels to other people.

    Supremo post, Julie.

  73. Kir

    I love this…and lately, I have been been giving this a lot of thought. In some of my favorite designers (and by that I mean stores at the mall) have either changed their sizes or I am getting smaller..I go with the latter. All my life my mom has told me to STOP HIDING my chest under turtlenecks and bulky I have started buying Mediums instead of Large’s …and they fit, they hug my curves, they don’t bunch or hurt..they just fit. They also don’t hide anything, so I need to own up to the rolls on my tummy but the M fits and that’s good enough for me most days.

    what a great post!!!!

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