JUST THINKING: Size doesn’t matter

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

As a teenager, I loved this time of year and I hated it. Loved it because Danish Festival was in full swing, we were getting ready to head back to school and see friends, and sports were just kicking into gear. Hated it because it meant trying on last year’s school clothes to see what fit and what didn’t. It’s the “what didn’t” part that always threw me for a loop.

Make no mistake, I was grateful for the fact that I got a few new things to hang in my closet each year. But, as a girl, I was mortified when my pants no longer buttoned or my shirts were too small. Shopping for jeans was torture because it always seemed to emphasize your flaws. Still seems that way.

Guys had it easy, to my way of thinking. It was a good thing if their pants were too small and they needed the next shirt size. Our society praises tall boys who are big — good athletes, you know. On their way to being just like their dads.

Never mind that middle school and high school is the prime development time for girls. Or that we’re actually supposed to have curves. It’s hard when your friends are skinny and can eat anything they want without negative results. And no matter how little you eat, how much you exercise or what other bad habits you partake in, you just can’t shrink.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because stores are in their back-to-school prime. I see all the tight skirts, the short shirts and the skimpy dresses and I ache for those girls who are like I was. Girls who eat and exercise and have friends and play sports, but who hate themselves inside.

I think about all the young women out there who are doing the crazy “I want to be skinny” dance that I did — for way too long. When I shop with my daughters — especially for jeans — I make sure we go by how something fits, not by its size. Almost every pair of size 10 jeans you try on is going to fit differently depending on the person or the machine that made them.

I want girls to know — to really understand and believe — that size is just a number. It doesn’t say anything about who you are or what you can be. Clothes are accessories we need to get through the day. If someone judges you for the numbers or letters on your tag, then they’re not worth the effort. I think about all that time I spent hating my figure and doing nutty, unhealthy things to try and change it.

You can either set yourself up to spend time you don’t get back fretting about how you’ll fit into a size 10 when you’re really a 12. Or you can focus on eating and exercising and learning and having fun and wearing whatever size fits.

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