I do not believe in or appreciate this whole “0 is not a size” campaign. As a child, I would eat and eat and struggle to gain weight, and in junior high I was a size 00. I constantly felt insecure because I was “too bony,” and family and friends would tell me I was too skinny and that I “needed to gain weight,” and it made me feel terrible. It was difficult to find clothes that fit my frame, and I wished over and over again that I could gain some weight to avoid everyone’s speculations about my “skin and bones.” I particularly remember a day in which someone I knew went out of her way to prove to me how small I was, in front of my friends and family: she wrapped her hand around my entire thigh and told me that it was disgusting and all about how she shouldn’t be able to do that—as if I chose to have my thigh be so “stick-like.”
We wouldn’t say “10 is not a size,” or “18 is not a size,” without sounding any less ignorant. Why does anyone feel the need to put down whatever size a person may be wearing? A person’s size is the amount of material used to make their pants — just clothes, not their identity. If it’s a number, it’s a size, and everyone should own theirs proudly without someone dismissing its validity, whether it’s a size 0 or 1,000.
Sure, fitting into a size 0 shouldn’t be a goal for anyone, but why should we dismiss it as a size altogether when some people don’t choose to wear it? I think Sophia Bush is an awesome advocate for many brilliant causes, and I understand that her “0 is not a size” campaign was an effort to combat Urban Outfitter’s terrible negligence in creating a shirt that reads: “eat less.” However, it doesn’t seem socially or morally sound to refute anything related to weight by releasing yet another negative statement about weight.
Shouldn’t we also consider the fact that trying to combat the Urban Outfitters shirt with yet another destructive speculation about weight would only stimulate women’s issues with the number they see on the scale? If anyone feels as conscious as I did about being a size 0, they may try to compensate by gaining weight that their frame may not be meant to hold.
In the same way that a shirt that says to “eat less,” may perpetuate things such as bulimia and anorexia, shirts that read “0 is not a size” may encourage an eating disorder that is rarely ever discussed — bigorexia (also called muscle dysmorphia). It’s the opposite of anorexia; people who suffer from bigorexia feel that they are too small, frail, or underdeveloped, and take desperate measures to ‘bulk up.’ While this disorder typically affects more men than women, both genders can suffer from it. No one deserves to feel a daily struggle against themselves and their body’s natural metabolic rate — whether it is considered fast or slow.
Rather than continuing to engage in t-shirt wars with conflicting adverse messages about weight, we should be discussing how we can eliminate these stigmas altogether and provide support for anyone and everyone who suffers from believing their body is not how it should be.
As far as the war between women and weight stereotypes in the media: while the general public can’t control this portrayal of women, we can choose the effect it has on us. We can petition stores to carry larger sizes, or we can choose to boycott those stores altogether if they lack the dignity to sell clothes that can fit the full spectrum of sizes—an endeavor that many people have already taken on. More importantly, we can stop shaming any and every size and embrace every woman, and every single person, as a healthy image in her or his own light.
Simply put: a size is a size if even one person in the world wears it, and we should celebrate and recognize all of these sizes. Period.