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It’s a small world after all

I stumbled into an early bird sale at Kohl’s last weekend. I almost never go to stores without a coupon in hand, which was why I was at the Bed, Bath & Beyond across the street. I decided I needed a big cutting board to go with my big knife. My dinky little plastic board just wasn’t “cutting” it anymore. If I’m going to be chopping up heads of broccoli to roast I need more space for my produce scalping. Only I got to Bed, Bath & Beyond and realized I’d left my big, blue 20% coupon at home. Strange to think I’d misplaced it because those coupons are printed on huge cardboard postcards. It’s like losing a nuclear weapon. I decided to go to Kohl’s to see if they had a cheaper cutting board since I was in the neighborhood. At current gas prices I’ve calculated that it costs me about 11.5 cents to travel a mile. I really didn’t want my 69 cents to go to waste. That’s half a load of laundry I wouldn’t be able to do or almost one packet of sugar-free Jell-O I would not be eating.

Kohl’s doesn’t sell cutting boards, or if they do they have them hidden underneath the bath towels or behind the picture frames because I couldn’t find them. Since I was there, I headed over to the misses section. I still feel like a tourist when I’m in the misses section at Kohls. It’s so close to the front of the store that I can actually see sunlight from there. I’m used to hiking to the back and browsing the plus-sized clothes by only electric lighting.

I had headed to this area of the store for one purpose, to see if they still had the world’s most perfect T-shirt for sale. I bought two of these shirts on sale several months ago and had since decided that never had there ever been a shirt so perfectly designed for my own body. The v-neck, the snug yet flattering fit, the well-defined yet not boxy sleeves, the not-too-short but not-too-long length. Whenever I slipped on one of these t-shirts I felt perfectly comfortable. It was versatile enough to wear while exercising or when I went to work. I have no idea if this t-shirt fits anyone else as well as it fits me, but damn does it ever fit me. Which is why I wanted to buy one in every color.

I grabbed a couple shirts from the shelf and headed for the dressing rooms. As I suspected, the shirt still fit me perfectly. The nicest surprise was the sticker stuck down the front said “S S S S S S S S.” I was not buying a snakeskin shirt that was hissing at me, I was buying a “small” shirt and it fit fine. I never thought I’d be so proud to be a small person. I never expected to ever fit into a small shirt. I was so used to buying extra-large everything, be it shirts or sodas, that the very idea of fitting into a size small t-shirt was too much for my mind to handle without exploding, like it was trying to conceptualize the size of the entire universe.

While this is very, very, cool, isn’t it a bit weird? I’m still at least 10 pounds away from being a “normal” weight according to my BMI. And even though my front pooch no longer passes the pencil test I do still have a front pooch. If I’m a small, what do the really tiny people wear? Do they have to go to the girls section? Do they go to the toy section of Target and buy Barbie doll clothes? I can only guess that this sizing system is a reflection of the size of most customers, in comparison to whom I must now be considered small.

Whatever. I bought seven shirts in different colors. One of the annoying things about losing weight for almost two and half years is that I’ve been hesitant to invest in clothing. I never know how long it will fit. The most expensive thing I’ve bought in the past two years is a winter coat. Since they didn’t sell an extra-small size, I figured I wasn’t going to get too much smaller than this on top, so I should stock up. I wasn’t going to get a shirt of this quality for much cheaper than $6.00 anyway.

When I got home and was cutting tags I pulled out one shirt and realized it had a “M M M M M M M M” sticker on the front. I’d picked it up out of habit. So now I have to spend another 69 cents to go to the store to exchange it. There’s another bowl of Jell-O I won’t be eating.

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53 Comments

BrightAngel • June 6, 2007 at 10:35 am

At 5’0″ (today’s weight) 111.0 lbs, I am now one of the “really tiny” people. (Remember, once I was 271 lbs, and wore big, big big sizes)

I am now a Small or a size 6 Petite…Both top and bottom.

Size 6 petite and small petite is about the same as size 16 (extra-large) in children’s clothing which is cool because the sleeves and pants are the right length..and normal Small are too long for me; children’s t-shirts & pants are cheaper…and surprisingly….I find that at Target and WalMart…those children’s clothes are better quality than in many of the high-end department stores. Perhaps because they are purchased by more lower-income people who need to “hand them down” to younger children?

There are no federal regulations on the sizing of women’s clothing. While they all seem to be within a “similiar” range, these differences stand out.

Clothes in the more expensive stores seem to be sized just a bit larger than in the cheaper ones.

My size 6 petite can sometimes be labeled 8, and sometimes 0.

At Chicos…a zero “0″…which is their smallest size, is the same as a size 6 petite. At Coldwater Creek, all of their dresses, no matter how labeled, are too large for me. I wear a size 4 long wool coat, and I have cotton blouses that are size 2.

The past few years I’ve had LOTS of fun shopping at every possible store. For the first time in my life I veer into every dressing room of almost every store I pass….and I love how I look in most of the clothes I try on.

My best-fitting (…not relaxed cut…) blue jeans are Rider’s size 8 petite…while relaxed fit have to be size 6. While my white and my black jeans are all size 6 in Gloria Vanderbuilt classic as well as all the other brands I’ve tried…except LEVIs. Most brands fit me well…but a strange thing, ALL of the Levi’s I’ve tried don’t fit right, no matter what size or style. Something about my body.

I’m not fond of the “muffin top” look, so I choose to have my pants fit, but not fit too tightly. I’ve been amused many times in dressing rooms to overhear young women talking to each other as they try on jeans…”Oh my God, It’s a size 2..You fit in a size 2…You can wear a size 2″. I’ve peered out of my dressing room to view these women, and seen the poochyiest muffin tops possible…and often thought to myself…”Girl, you’d look sooooooo much better in a size 8 or 10.” But I’ve kept my comments to myself…Perhaps that’s the look sought…

Homesewn clothing…the pattern size says my measurements (bust 32, waist 26, hips 35) are size 10 to 12…but I haven’t actually sewn anything yet, so I don’t know how that follows through.

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Alicia • June 6, 2007 at 10:50 am

Wow,that is so great! A size small! I can’t ever remember fitting into something that was a size small. You must be so proud of all your acheivements. I just enjoy your blog so much. Thanks for sharing.

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Têtue • June 6, 2007 at 11:25 am

Oh my gosh, a SMALL?! I think I’d fall over from shock if I actually fit into a small. Congrats! One day I’ll be writing a post on fitting in a small, and I can’t wait for it!

BrightAngel, I could kiss you. I’m your height and sometimes getting to such a low weight seems impossible. But if you can do it, dang it, so can I!

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Dawn • June 6, 2007 at 11:45 am

Congratulations! You are such an inspiration. I “heart” your blog.

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jodi • June 6, 2007 at 11:52 am

i just bought a size small last night at kohl’s too – how funny… i had bought some things last week and out of habit, got them a bit larger than i should’ve… so when i was putting on an outfit for work, i realized they were really too big for me… its so hard to get used to buying clothes that ‘fit’ instead of that ‘hide’… :o)

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Red • June 6, 2007 at 11:54 am

Sizes are so whacky, but how thrilling it must have been to put on a size small t-shirt! Go you! I’m 5’0″. This morning weighed in at 128, and I doubt I’ll ever wear a size small top as I’m built more like an apple than a pear. Even after losing 55lbs I’m still in a 36D bra, and my arms are b-i-g (and strong!). I was Kohl’s last night looking for t-shirts and ended up with three t-shirts from their bootleg, erm… bargain-priced, Ralph Lauren collection, all size large. (Didn’t see the t-shirts you got.) They fit just right, not too small, not too big, (just a little room for dryer shrinkage). As an aside, why is it so dang hard to find a t-shirt that doesn’t have a teeny tiny cap sleeve? I like my giant arms covered, thank you very much!

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JEM • June 6, 2007 at 12:02 pm

You are right Red, sizes are completely wacky. In a perfect world you would be able to say I am a size and everything would some in those measurements so you would always fit into that size but in our wacky world of fashion I have clothes I fit into from size 20 – 28. Its a crazy mixed up world we live in. All that aside, I am crazy happy for you! Wearing a small in any designer label would elate me beyond belief. I do know that all my very small friends (like size 6 and below) do wear extra small shirts unless they have big knockers.

Anyway…Congrats Pasta Queen! You rock the small t-shirt world!

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Kalyn • June 6, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Congratulations on buy all those smalls! Also, very excited to hear you’re roasting broccoli. I’m convinced that nearly every vegetable tastes good tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of pepper and roasted. I’ve had asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and mushrooms cooked that way and not a bad result yet.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Bananapants • June 6, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Fabulous! Congratulations. I often wish women’s sizes would be a bit more like men’s with the measurements being the guidelines. Much more exact, but then again they’d lose the “vanity” sizing advantage…

Maybe we could get a progress photo in one of the t-shirts? Keep up the great writing and great work! You’re a real inspiration.

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dg • June 6, 2007 at 1:25 pm

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Super bloody brilliant :) And they look like fab t-shirts too, really great colours…

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Patty • June 6, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Wow, way to go a S size. I can’t even remember the day I was a S. I think due to my chest size I was always a M. Good going on investing in your shirts. You will be staying at this size forever or smaller, right? Yeah!

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Kimberly • June 6, 2007 at 2:18 pm

I’m too tall and busty to have ever been a small, but I’m going to applaud you instead of secretly glowering at you enviously.

You’ve worked so hard and buying the next size down is one of the best rewards of all!

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anon • June 6, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Congratulations! What a wonderful feeling.

And don’t feel I’m trying to burst your bubble by saying the following (because I swear, I’m commiserating actually, because wait until you see how SOON you are actually going to find it hard to find clothes that fit!): the sizing in the clothing industry is completely and utterly out of control. I mean vanity sizing has taken over the universe.

I know a large percentage of Americans are overweight, and god help me, when I was really heavy all I wanted to be able to do was find decent clothes that fit and I felt like I never could, but now that I’m “normal” (I know, a loaded word!) sized, I am actually discovering that I can’t go into most stores and find things that fit. Everything is too big! I’m all for making clothes that fit heavy people, but let’s not stop making clothes that fit height/weight proportionate people! Let’s not discriminate in the OTHER direction!

Ok, I realize I’m ranting. I also realize that I feel so damn great now that I’m into fitness and running and have lost weight that I will gladly suffer this problem.

But, seriously, you look great right now, but since you already said you want to still lose some weight and/or tone up a bit more, let me ask you this: wouldn’t you say it’s rather peculiar that the SMALL is fitting perfectly now? Where does that leave you to go?? What is up with the clothing industry???

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Laura • June 6, 2007 at 3:11 pm

Super cool on the new small size. I bet you wanted to let out a hoot or two in the dressing room!

How about a progress pic in one of the Size Small Shirts???!!!

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Lesley • June 6, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Small – what is that exactly?? Is it like a size or something?? I nearly fainted at fitting into a Medium the other day after half a lifetime of not even fitting into mens’ XXL’s so I think Small would be a step too far for a little while. My mind needs time to adjust.

Well done you – that must be a fantastic feeling. And all for only $6.00!

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spacedcowgirl • June 6, 2007 at 4:39 pm

Yes, I think it’s pretty hard for small/thin women to find clothes. When my friend graduated and got a job about 5 years ago, she basically hadn’t bought anything new to wear the whole time she’d been in grad school. (And possibly undergrad, come to think of it… she was wearing size 7 junior’s acid-washed Levi’s when we went shopping.) NOTHING in chain department stores’ more pedestrian lines, which she was hoping to go with because she’s not much of a clotheshorse and they were inexpensive and work-appropriate (Briggs, Sag Harbor, etc.), fit her; not only did those lines start at a 6 but the 6 was huge compared to her size 7 jeans. She ended up having to stick to national brands like Levi’s/Dockers and “younger” stores like Express that carried more traditionally cut 0-4 sizes (though I guess 0 is a recent invention anyway, but you know what I mean) to find anything that fit. Junior sizes are an option and are still cut smaller/more traditionally, but most of that stuff is so hoochie.

Personally, if I had her body, I’d be blowing my budget at Express and the Gap and buying all kinds of things like the stylish low-rise dress pants she refused in favor of pleated, tapered Dockers, but that’s me. Some people just don’t appreciate what they have. :)

It’s not a healthy thing for me to be obsessed with (especially pointless since I have 55 more lbs to lose by anyone’s reckoning), but I have started digging around for old insurance company height-weight tables from the 50s and 60s. I know all the reasons why it’s dumb to stake my weight goals on these, but there is a tiny part of my brain that wants to be what I consider objectively thin. I don’t want anyone to be able to look at me and go “Size 8 my ass… must be the vanity sizing” or “she looks great… compared to what she was.” I want to be a woman who would have been able to buy middle-of-the-road sizes off the rack as a mid-century housewife. Probably I should just keep aiming for “not obese” for the time being.

On the other hand I’m wearing a 16/18 in misses now, at the same weight where I am pretty sure I was when I wore a 16/18 in high school, so that size doesn’t seem to have changed much in 10-15 years. Probably as I get into the smaller end of the size range is going to be when the sizing changes really start to become apparent.

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sarah • June 6, 2007 at 5:18 pm

wow..a small..you are my height…so if I was to get to that weight, I could possibly be a medium or small ? probably a medium..I have a…generous…rack…

wow..what a goal..thanks!

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krissie • June 6, 2007 at 5:27 pm

The same shirt in 7 different colors? That’s something I would do.

I laughed out loud at the hissing…What an accomplishment!!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Congratulations on being able to wear a size small!! I love those Kohl’s v-neck T’s as well. At 5’9″, 184#, I wear an XL, so I’m definitely impressed that you can wear a small.

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Peter • June 6, 2007 at 11:44 pm

Regarding size inflation: the average American’s B.M.I. now is apparently about 28. I have no idea what it was 50 years ago, but you can bet it was less. (In Norway, today, it is 25.0.)

So at the very least, whatever ‘small’ means, at 26.4 you are officially Thinner Than Most People. By quite a noticeable amount, too!

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Phoenix • June 7, 2007 at 3:52 am

i used to work at kohl’s… we have cutting boards, though they tend to be fairly hidden. usually they are along the wall, by the packages of knives and other other kitchen miscellany. if the one by you is like the one i worked at, you have have about 5 difference choices of cutting boards.

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Lose Weight With Me • June 7, 2007 at 8:12 am

Congrats on the “S”! That is such a milestone…you have every right to be proud.

Brian

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anon • June 7, 2007 at 9:44 am

Hi SpacedCowGirl,

Just wanted to say, I hear ya.

Want to know what vanity sizing is? It’s me, at 5 feet, six inches tall and 130 pounds fitting into a size 0 at Ann Taylor Loft. In high school when I was this height and weight I think I was wearing size 9 jeans.

So, WTF? That’s why I don’t get too excited over the way things are sized these days; it’s just meant to feed my ego. I just want clothes that fit; the number is meaningless.

Two things frustrate me: there is no consistency is sizing (sometimes I’m a 2 or 4) and I can’t go into many regular stores and buy clothes, because they start their sizing at 4 or 6 and their things are swimming on me.

As I said in my earlier post, believe me, I’m much happier being fit again and I wouldn’t trade this for anything. I don’t mean to make it look like this is really a tragedy, lol. But, seriously, there are many women smaller than I am, and I’d love to know where they buy their clothes.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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spacedcowgirl • June 7, 2007 at 3:13 pm

anon, maybe you are supposed to be buying designer clothes? If you’re that thin you must be rich enough to buy $300 pants, right? ;-) (Just kidding)

I noticed the Isaac Mizrahi stuff in Target is sized more like the rest of Target’s clothes, that is to say, cut a little small compared to like JCPenney but still basically in line with other mainstream American stores. And his line there goes up to an 18! That must be killing Isaac. I never got the impression that he was too fond of non-skinny girls. Of course it’s probably killing him all the way to the bank, so maybe he’s not crying about it too much. Or maybe he’s gotten used to dealing with average Americans since descending from the high fashion ivory tower.

PQ, Brian’s point about your 26.4 BMI is a great one. Wow! You are way thinner (and based upon your running and weightlifting, and your healthy diet, much more fit) than the average American. That must be a great feeling.

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spacedcowgirl • June 7, 2007 at 3:19 pm

Oops, I meant Peter’s comment. Sorry, Brian.

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anon • June 7, 2007 at 3:30 pm

It’s ok to kid me; I know I probably sound whiny and you hate me, lol. Trust me–I’ve been on the other side of the fence too, and was there for a long, long time. And I don’t know about others who lose weight, but for me, the feelings and memories are still vivid.

Ann Taylor Loft (not cheap in my opinion!) is the most expensive place I can afford (and barely). I do shop there sometimes.

And I’m pleased with my body so don’t think I’m being negative, but let me tell you something about “thin.” Height and weight only tells so much of the story. I know women who are 5’6″ and 130 lbs who are much thinner than I am. I still have lots of curves. I basically have the same body I had when I was heavy, only smaller. In my experience, apple shapes are still apple shapes when they’re thinner, and pears are still pears. Just smaller versions.

I am proud of my feminine shape and am glad to still be “fleshy” (my boyfriend says he’d be sad if there was nothing left to hold onto, lol). My question, though, about where those rail thin girls buy clothes was sincere. Because if *I* wear a 0 at Ann Taylor, I can’t imagine they can shop anywhere but the little boy’s department!

It’s also just a wee bit ironic to me, that years and years ago when I was a very heavy teen and twenty something, I had the hardest time finding nice clothes that fit large women. Now the stores seem to offer more in the way of plus size clothing and I’m genuinely glad about that. But I seem to have been caught in the wrong era at the wrong weight two different times, because now I still have trouble finding clothes that fit!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

One of my friends is one of those skinny little people. She frequently goes to a tailor.

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Natalie • June 7, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Pasta Queen, you are my idol. But if I’m really going to be like you (& Nicole W of A Dumbell in a Home Gym who recently also wrote about the bragging rights to a size “S”) I’m going to have to get a tummy tuck & breast reduction surgery after I hit my goal weight. (sigh). I don’t know WHY mother nature decided to give me such a heavy front side.

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RG • June 8, 2007 at 8:27 am

Interesting comments. I’ve found that 5 pounds approx.= 1 size. Also, 0-2 should be an XS, 4-6 a S, 8-10 a M, etc. Each of these sizes is about an inch difference on the waist for me (that’s my limiting factor, bust or hips might be for different shaped women). 130 lbs = 28 inch waist = size 8. 120 = 26 inch waist = size 4. That’s if I buy things that fit properly. I can usually fit into things that are too tight almost two sizes down or too loose, two sizes up.

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anon • June 8, 2007 at 10:27 am

RG, may I ask how tall you are?

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Lee • June 9, 2007 at 11:54 pm

were your shirts all v-necked? from looking at your pics, it seems you favor that style. just an observation…

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K • June 10, 2007 at 12:34 pm

I have given up trying to decide which T-shirt size I am. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m a small in men’s T-shirts!

In the UK, I’d expect to be a 14 or a Medium on top, which is supposed to equate to a US 10 as RG says… but when I’ve bought t-shirts online from US sites, I generally end up with X-large (going by the “measure something that fits you well” method) and on two occasions, that’s been… not too small, but you wouldn’t want it to be any smaller.

I’m not annoyed by this, but it’s interesting that the bricks-and-mortar stores seem to have different sizing again.

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PastaQueen • June 10, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Lee – Yes, I prefer the V neck. My face is kind of round naturally even after all the weight loss. A round neck emphasizes that fact. The V-neck de-emphasizes it.

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Natalie • June 11, 2007 at 10:00 pm

PQ, days later I was still thinking about this post. I was thinking about you & how you had found the Holy Grail, a size “S” or maybe it will be “XS,” but it gave me an idea for your book title:

The Bragging Rights to a Size “S”: A Weight Loss Memoir

Anyway, you look great & healthy & perky. Congrats!

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Keshira • June 25, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Everyone seems to be asking where to buy clothes for skinny people. I live with my mother who is 5’6″ and 123 pounds and she shops at stores like Target and JC Penney and other places like that and the clothes seem to fit her fine. This may be because 1) She’s actually pretty curvy and 2) She doesn’t give a shit about clothes and will go around wearing XL sizes in sweatpants because they’re “comfortable”…but still :-)

She’s Chinese though and in China she can bearly fit into “large” sizes..mostly because of her height..so you can all go to China to find small clothes, or other Asian countries.

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