Woman's Viral Post Points Out Reality of this Hidden Form of Body-Shaming

June 16th 2017

Kyle Fitzpatrick

Body shaming isn’t always packaged as rude words about a person’s body.

In some cases, the act can be hidden within what you wear as brands shift sizes — and customers are getting tired of it.

Riley Bodley recently discovered this when comparing two pairs of jeans purchased five years apart — and the photo she shared is going viral.

The Waukon, Iowa, resident posted an image of two pairs of American Eagle Outfitters jeans, one size 0 purchased five years ago and one size 4 purchased this year. Bodley was shocked to find that her size 4 was smaller than her size 0.

“How small has a size 0 actually gotten?” Bodley wrote in the post, which has gotten nearly 40,000 shares, over 25,000 reactions, and over 4,000 comments. “The media makes young girls feel the smaller the number they wear, the more beautiful they are, and this is certainly NOT true.”

This isn’t the first time American Eagle has been called out for subtly body-shaming shoppers.

Nearly a year ago, ATTN: reported on a similar story where American Eagle shorts that were a size 4 and size 10 were both the same size. Similar concerns about the effect of size changes on a shopper’s self-esteem were waged as well.

ATTN: reached out to American Eagle for comment on the matter and will update the story as necessary.

The phenomena that is occurring is called “vanity sizing,” a fact that renders sizes meaningless in the hopes of making people feel better. Unfortunately, the technique has been backfiring.

While sizes have shifted throughout the years, “vanity sizing” refers to a brand technique that involves fluctuating numbers in the hopes of making people feel skinnier.

As Time reported on the matter, much of this happens because customers desire to feel more confident in clothing — and this results in making falsified sizes. This technique backfires when shoppers are unable to try clothing on or when a size varies within on store.

"Vanity sizing" in retail

"Vanity sizing" is akin to grading on a curve (pardon the pun) and, according to a study conducted by Racked, American Eagle is not alone in vanity sizing: their clothing borderlines in running too small — and customers should size up.

As Bodley points out, this is a reminder that clothing sizes are just numbers — and that we are more than them.

The takeaway from these size shifting practices is to realize that these numbers are not really real: they’re constructed by brands to make people feel better or worse about themselves.

Bodley is privy to this too — and that’s exactly why she posted it. "I post this as a reminder that size is literally just a number and does not define you,” she explained. “Find clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident, and know your beauty is not defined by the size you wear."

[H/T Teen Vogue]