Nancy Roman

Size Creep

Two years ago I lost 12 lbs.  The incentive was my 40th high school reunion.  I was really skinny in high school, and although I will never be skinny again, I wanted to look young.  Specifically, I wanted to looked younger than a few select classmates.  Preferably, younger than all my classmates.

I wasn’t exactly successful, but 12 lbs was okay.  I bought a slinky dress in the same size I wore 15 years ago to my 25th reunion.  Not bad.  It was softly lit in the banquet room, which also helped. It helped everyone else too, but I like to think it helped me especially.

So I was rummaging through my closet the other day, and I came upon some old clothes.  The same size 10 that I am now so proud of wearing.  I don’t have to explain why I have some clothes in my closet that are fifteen years old.  You know you do too.

I found this skirt.

I loved this skirt.  I love the sheer chiffon material, the border at the bottom, the sarong shape with the tied waist. I bought it for a classy Sunday afternoon wedding, and I wore it with a sexy little tank top.  Don’t worry, I had a cardigan in case the weather was cool.

I loved this skirt.  So I put it on.  Or rather, tried to. Holy Mackerel.  Not only couldn’t I button the waist; I couldn’t get it to slide down over my hips.  It just sat around my waist like the inner tube I used to float on at the Lake.

But it’s a size 10!  Like I wear now!

Then it dawned on me – what should have dawned on me two years ago when I first lost the weight.  Although I am now a size ten, I am also 16 lbs heavier than I was the last time I wore a size ten.  It’s not because I’m so ‘toned’ from all the yoga.  I’ve been scammed.  The clothing manufacturers have re-sized everything to make you feel better.

I googled it, and found I was right.  It’s called vanity sizing.   The clothing industry claims it’s not just for vanity.  It’s to keep a “medium” the size that the average woman needs. And average women are bigger, so average sizes are bigger.

And it’s not just women’s sizes.  Men’s Dockers pants in a size 36″ waist are really 39.5″ at the waist.

So we can all feel good buying the same size while we get big in the middle.

But I’m looking on the bright side.  If I can maintain my current weight, then fifteen years from now, at my 57th reunion, I’ll be a size six.  That’s what I wore when I graduated high school.  I’m skinny again!


  1. I didn’t realize there had been so much size-creep in just 15 years. This is just plain depressing. Did you keep the 12 pounds off from the reunion? That’s always my problem.


    • So far, so good, keeping it off. Mostly by limiting all those wonderful snacks.


  2. bigsheepcommunications

    Personally, I’m a fan of the creeping vanity sizing. I am not, however, a fan of high school reunions and have never attended. Love that skirt – I had a very similar one years ago, but have no idea what happened to it.


  3. While I had a great high school experience, I’ve never had the desire to attend any reunion. I would rather keep the mystery alive… “I wonder whatever happened to Steff???” And I too, have put on some extra pounds. Mostly when I moved to Portland, OR. I could walk out my condo and within 10 blocks was some of the best eating in the city. And I’m so guilty of keeping the old clothes in my closet. I know that they will come back in style and by the time they do, I just might be able to get my fluffy butt back into them. Wishful thinking??? You betcha!


  4. It just sat around my waist like the inner tube I used to float on at the Lake. bahahahahaha Love it!


  5. Your blog today was oh so spot on! Life is just not fair sometimes!


  6. Always a bright side of everything..isn’t there?? Yes – this ‘vanity sizing’ is such a scam. I’ve gone from a 6 to a 4..and am now a size 2. And then – there’s size 0. I don’t understand what that means!!!!
    You got a good chuckle out of me tonite!!!


  7. I hear you. It’s been a while since I’ve noticed but let’s face it, we are kind of happily fooled, aren’t we? Sort of? I would so hate to HAVE to buy something that reads size 12 when in my heart of hearts I KNOW I’m a size 10 and have always been don’ttrytoputthewooldovermyeyes!


    • One of my favorite Erma Bombeck stories: When she had cancer,she lost a lot of weight. In church one day, she felt the lady behind her gently tucking the label back into the nape of her dress. She turned around and told the lady…”Leave the label out. This is the only time I have ever been a size ten, and I want everyone to know.”


  8. Hilarious, as usual, and somewhat revealing. It’s great that you take such a realistic approach at things and like yourself, too.


  9. Give me vanity sizing any day. That’s why you should throw out old clothes. They refuse to be accessories to the crime.


  10. I think my bathroom scales are in the conspiracy too as, the weight I am, I really should be able to fit into some of my old clothes!


  11. So funny! Especially the inner tube comment.

    You’re definitely right about vanity sizing, though. If Marilyn Monroe was a size 16, my favorite movie is Citizen Kane*.

    *Citizen Kane is my least favorite movie.


    • Okay, you’ve really got my attention. Marilyn Monroe was a size 16?


      • That “fact” is sort of like an urban legend – there’s quite a number of reputable articles on it if you get really bored and do a Google search, LOL! From what I can tell, compared to today’s sizes, she was actually an 8!

        However, you are still permitted to say she was a size 16 if it makes you feel better. THAT’S a fact.


  12. Back in the late 70’s we were at the house of some friends who were quite a bit wealthier than we were (who wasn’t?). We were invited to go swimming and the wife said the women in our group could use the extra bathing suits she kept on hand. The suit I wore was a size 7 and there was no way in hell I was anywhere near that size. That was my first introduction to vanity sizing.

    I’ve always liked this quote from a female comedian whose name escapes me:

    “I was a size two once. When I was a fetus.”


    • Hilarious. I am thinking about buying tags that say “6” – and sewing them into my clothes. Maybe that’s what your friend did.


  13. Oh yes, fake sizing! I laughed at the “inner tube” comment. Usually when I put on old clothes I become stuck and panic and run around looking for the scissors to set me free.


  14. This is all SOOO true!


  15. I don’t want to admit that any of this is true. Can’t I just pretend that it isn’t? Please?


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