The New Medium
Today I went to the shops, which is always a fraught exercise for me. Usually, the only reason I go to the shops is to buy food, and never to buy clothing, because clothing is my least favourite thing. As a result, my “look” is Manic Pixie Dream girl meets extra from Oliver, but that’s a story for another day.
I’m willing to put aside my general shopping-inspired anger for now because I managed to find not one but FOUR items of clothing on this, happiest of days. That’s four items that I liked AND which fit over my weird, lumpy body. The sizes on these items were as follows:
8, 14, S, S
I read them and stood agape at my good fortune. Somehow, between trying on a fitted denim shirt and a puffy-red ’50’s style skirt I had lost THREE CLOTHING SIZES. It takes me a long time to take clothes on and off due because, as previously implied, I am crap at all things sartorial – but even allowing for my next-level dumbassery, the difference in time was maybe ten minutes.
I imagined myself heading a Michelle Bridges-style step-based program. What a star I’d be! Oh, the poorly worded Facebook ads I would write! Oh, the babies I would have with muscled up, tattooed reality stars! Just three easy steps! Step in to change room, put on item. Muck around checking your phone, put on next item. Step out! Ta da!
Except actually I didn’t think that. Like I’m an idiot but I’m not an idiot. Instead, I stopped to marvel once again at women’s clothing sizes – the mess, the madness.
I was raised to believe that numbers were sort of a rigid system. That each one had a fixed value, and that that’s why they were useful. Within the realm of women’s clothing this is not the case. A number is a vague suggestion, a side eye at a concept that may or may not contain any bearing on reality.
Look, I understand. Sometimes, people have much bigger boobs than they have stomachs or they have much bigger shoulders than they have thighs. I do not have these problems. I dress for one region and one region alone – my hips. I’ve been told all my life that they’ll be great when I decide to push out a kid, but they’re also the reason I can only buy high-waisted jeans, so screw that. If the great decider that is my hips can wear both an 8 and a 14, you’ve got trouble my friend. Right here in a suburban Westfield.
For one thing, how annoying that I had to try on so many sizes – because ugh. For another, how annoying if I wore a size 14 as standard and you’d cut the damn thing two sizes too small. I don’t know why clothing stores continue to pretend that only people below size 16 wear clothes, but I do know that if I’d found the perfect occasion dress and couldn’t buy it because the sizes didn’t go up high enough, I would probably wear whatever was lying around in my pajama draw to my cousin’s wedding in protest. Like, my cousin is pretty understanding, but damn.
But, as angry as the ranty plus-sized ally inside me was, something annoyed me more. It offended me most. That snarky little S, staring at me from its black and white plastic-ed throne. Taunting me with its falseness.
Now, let me assure you – I am the most aggressively medium-sized person you will ever see. If you look up medium in some dictionaries you will see a picture of me, smiling, alongside the world’s other great indicator of medium-ness – the McDonald’s medium sized soft drink.
So don’t go running around trying to tell me that I am a small! I know I am not a small. I reject small (for me, other girls are small for real and they are great). I have spent hours at the shopping centre eating food and avoiding fixing my wardrobe, training for this moment so I can confidently pick up the size marked M! I don’t need your snarky, leery vanity sizes judging me. I am a medium, dammit, and I require no pandering. What if I lose my t-shirt during an impromptu group skinny dip? Like, I’ve never done that, but why rule it out? Nobody is going to bring it over to me while I’m wet and shivering and trying to cover my enormous hips! They’ll be like “don’t bother, that chick is totally a medium.”
In fact, I am literally so medium that you could just create a whole new system of women’s sizing with me as the epicentre – the sun, if you will. I will be your ultimate medium, and all the smalls and the XXLs and the people who have to shop in the kid’s section can revolve around me. Sure, it might be a bit weird, but it literally cannot be any worse than the system we have now. It just cannot.
Clothing industry, you already cause me untold suffering. You boast an aggressively medium human rights record, which I can’t talk about without hearing “I’m sure that’s not true” and “goddamn Jill, shut up.” You punish me by ensuring I can never keep up with your revolving draw of new fashions, which taunt me from windows as I shuffle past to Mad Mex. You do us all a disservice by continuing to sell items in that horrible mustard yellow that’s back in this year. Nobody looks good in that crap, guys.
So please. However you do it, do me this one solid. One size. One dream. Medium.