What I Want Pre-Teen Girls to Know About Sizes

(Aren’t those boots great??  I’ve had them for close to 10 years now…)

Yesterday, I pulled on a pair of size 11 junior’s jeans that fit me like a glove.  I topped it with a long, lean size small/tall tank and and then a large cardigan.  Over it all, I tossed on my camel hair coat as I dashed out the door– a coat that is a size 4.  This morning, my jeans are a six and fit just as well as the ones I wore yesterday.  My top is “junior sizing” and, though it’s an XL, fits just right and looks cute.  And, while the boots pulled over my skinny jeans are a size 7, I had to ask my husband to return the cute red flats he bought me for Christmas: they’re a size 8 and they’re too small.


Why do I write all of this?  Because I can remember, clear as day, being a 5’5″ tall eighth grader and wearing a size 4 in ladies’ clothing.  I went to try on some pants at the Limited (because I was cool like that) and– gasp!– I needed a 6.


I hadn’t grown.  My 4′s still fit me fine.  But, in all my thirteen year old drama, I was devastated.  I refused to buy those navy pants.  I was horrified.  What?  I went UP a size?


Now, I could write a whole post about why “size doesn’t matter” and “skinny shouldn’t be the goal” and all that.  But that’s not what I want to talk about today.  Today, I simply want to remind all girls and women– especially the preteen variety– that SIZE NUMBER MEANS NOTHING.


My pants today are 5 sizes down from yesterday??  That’s ridiculous.   My shirt size ranges from small to extra large?  It makes no sense.  And, really?  A size 4 coat?  It makes me giggle every time I wear it because, really, I KNOW I’m not a “size 4.”


Ladies’ clothing is crazy.  There are so many things that factor in to how sizes run.  Sometimes?  It’s just the way it’s cut.  My waist is small and my thighs are not, so, depending on the pants, I might need different sizes.  Other times?  It’s the price.  Hate to say it, but it tends to be true: the more you’re willing to spend on your clothing, the smaller a size you can be.  That camel hair coat of mine?  It’s from a pricey store, not surprisingly.  And then, of course, there’s the whole “juniors vs. misses” piece.  If I’m wearing an article of clothing designed to fit a fourteen-year-old girl, I have to anticipate that it will be sized differently from the “grown-up” department.  I consistently wear a S/M in misses clothing, but need a L/XL in juniors.  But, since juniors tees tend to have that super-long cut I love, I find myself shopping there sometimes.


I don’t know what to tell you about the shoes.  I just can’t seem to find flats that fit my feet.  Maybe I need a size 9.  Who knows?


But I can tell you this– I’m done wasting any time at all worrying about what a label says.  Because that number inside your waistband?  It doesn’t mean a thing.

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20 comments to What I Want Pre-Teen Girls to Know About Sizes

  • Don’t you wish that you could go back and tell your teenage self these things? I remember being 14 and devastated because I had to wear a size 12/14 in juniors. I was 5’11, 150 and thought I was morbidly obese because a 14 was “plus size” It wasn’t until much later that I understood how sizes change from manufacturer to manufacturer and that a size 12 on a 5’11 frame is very different than the same size on a 4’11 frame.

    I also used to be obsessed with my BMI, which always said I was fat. Now, I look at the military fitness and weight requirements as they use a more accurate barometer for monitoring health. I measure my health by how fast I can complete a 5k instead of what my pant size is.

    • I LOVE what you wrote about measuring your health by your fitness level and not a number in your pants. That just makes so much more sense! It’s wonderful to want to “better” ourselves… as long as the goal isn’t some arbitrary label. :)

  • Important truth that we all need to learn! It truly makes no difference was the “size” of any garment is, if it fits your body, it’s your size! Of course, then there is the whole age-appropriate thing. I am 5’2″, weigh somewhere around 135# (+/-) and am 65 years old. Try to find things that fit me but are neither teeny-bopper, nor dowdy, frumpy, while still being somewhat stylish is a challenge.

    • That’s the thing! Those numbers assigned to garments mean NOTHING. If we’re truly talking about size (which obviously isn’t really that important anyhow, but anyway…), then measurements and weight are far more valuable ways of evaluating!

  • I definitely wish I could go back and talk to teenage self. As a….how did Penney’s term it…husky girl, I was mortified (read MORTIFIED) if anyone found out my size. Fast forward…I’m now thirty *cough* (may be more ok with someone knowing my size than my age) and have 5 different sizes in my closet. Not because some are my skinny pants and some aren’t, but because everything fits, it just depends on the manufacturer. Thanks for bringing this one up.

    • Oh, if only we could go back and whisper to our teen selves… I worried about some of the dumbest things. But, at the time, it felt SO significant. (And… really? I’m 35, you youngster, you… :))

  • I’ll never forget the shopping trip when my mom had to break the news to me that shopping at a store called 5/7/9 was futile. Because I couldn’t wear a 5, 7 or 9. Heart. Breaking.

    Of course now, a million years and pounds later, I would give my left foot to be the size I was then. But that’s another story altogether! :)

    • Would it make you feel any better to know that you weren’t missing anything? ;) My one and only foray into that store involved being embarrassed and paranoid as I attempted to try something on in a dressing “room” with only a tiny, flimsy curtain for privacy. But, light-heartedness aside, yes– it IS heart-breaking. And that makes me so sad. I hope and pray I can somehow keep my daughters from falling into the size trap…

  • [...] What I Want Pre-Teen Girls to Know About Sizes ~ “That number inside your waistband?  It doesn’t mean a thing.” [...]

  • Great post. It is so true. And I am saddened that as an adult I sometimes don’t want to buy clothes that are a different size than what i “think” I should be. Stupid me.

    • Not stupid at all, Jill. As women, we’ve been taught that the number matters. I’m guilty of it, too! A couple months ago, I posted “Hello, Size 6– I’ve missed you!” on Facebook. What’s up with THAT? I should have focused on how walking had toned me up and gotten me in better shape. The number was irrelevant. Sigh. I’m still learning…

  • It’s similar with bras. As a teenager, I wasn’t so worried about my clothing size. I always knew that I could wear a size smaller if I wasn’t trying to compensate for the extra-large chest God gifted me with. I remember being so embarrassed in 8th grade to skip straight from a B-cup to a D-cup. But the cut really does make a difference. The other day at Lane Bryant, I tried on a DD and a DDD that both fit me perfectly. But the cut was different. One was a “t-shirt” bra and the other was a “full-coverage” bra. If I really want to cut down on the number of Ds, I know I can always get into the nursing bras and go a size smaller since they always compensate for engorgement. You’d think since they actually have a standard measuring system for bras you wouldn’t have that difference, but you still do.

    • This is very true, Debra. I think bras, while more consistent than SOME women’s sizing, can vary dramatically depending on the store, cost, and cut. Men’s clothing is like that, too, to a certain degree. While their measurement system of sizing is more accurate than women’s number assignments, there’s still quite a wide range between different cuts/styles. Good point!

  • Care to throw bathing suits in the mix? Holy toledo, size is absolutely irrelevant with bathing suits!

    And funny, I *wish* my bra size was BIGGER!

    I know what you say to be true, but it never occurred to me to write about it! A great post I wish all young girls would see.

  • [...] What I Want Pre-Teen Girls to Know About Sizes « Parenting Miracles – This reminded me of the day my mother pointed out the futility of shopping at 5/7/9 – since I wore [at least] a size 11. *sigh* Yes, pre-teens need to hear this, for sure. [...]

  • LOVE this. As a mom to three girls, and as a sometimes-preteen trapped in a woman’s body myself (can you say insecurities rearing their ugly head), I needed this reminder. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh, goodness, that preteen girl lives on inside most of us, I fear. I can only hope that I can help my daughters navigate those insecure years with as little angst as possible. But I do know, despite all my best efforts, this will be something they struggle with, too. It seems nearly universal. :(

  • [...] I Want Pre-Teen Girls to Know About Sizes at Parenting Miracles.  Sometimes we mama’s need to remember this [...]

  • Rhoda

    Another factor in all of this size mess is that clothing is cut in multiple layers. Within that “one” cut could end up being many different sizes. Were the scissors straight, angled, or various angles throughout. Were the seams sown exactly in the middle, a little to the left/right and so on. That size “6″ cut of clothing could end up 4′s or 8′s depending on so many factors. Take two or three of the same item, same size, and each will fit differently depending on where in the stack it was cut and how sown. I find that the best way for me to buy clothes is to find a brand I like and stick with it. Makes life a bit easier despite the size on the label.

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