The new Netflix series “Insatiable” is putting the spotlight on the issue of fashion sizing once again. Our own Janice Wang shared her thoughts about sizing with the Times.
Read the full article, originally written by Vanessa Friedman, at The New York Times.
On Friday, “Insatiable,” a drama about an overweight, bullied teenager who slims down after a punching incident leaves her with a jaw wired shut, becomes a clichéd object of desire and proceeds to enact her revenge fantasies on the classmates and society who wronged her, will have its premiere on Netflix.
This, despite a flurry of protests from people who feel it “perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women’s bodies.”
Or so said a petition on Change.org signed by more than 226,000 asking the streaming service not to air the show. (There is also, in the way of these things, a petition to stop that petition, though as of Wednesday it had only nine signatures.)
The show, however, is going ahead. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Lauren Gussis, the show’s creator, said she hoped people would watch the series because the message was actually the exact opposite of what was assumed, focusing on the need to feel comfortable in your own skin, no matter what.
We’ll see if viewers agree, but either way size-ism, and body positivity will be at the center of the conversation once again. And with it, questions of what is valued in society, how women perceive their bodies (and how their bodies are perceived) and how fashion perpetuates the problem by engaging in seemingly illusory, inconsistent and exclusionary sizing that ignores an enormous part of the population, discombobulates the rest and fosters a negative culture of judgment.
It’s a fraught, intensely personal discussion. But one way to begin to address it may be to ask whether, as far as the size issue goes — the way bodies are numerically labeled — it’s time to rethink the whole thing. After all, as we all know, it long ago ceased to make any sense.
“Women’s sizing is arbitrary,” Janice Wang, the chief executive of Alvanon, a Hong Kong company that uses technology to update fit patterns to adapt to contemporary body types, wrote in an email. “Each size sort of falls within a range of 1 to 1.5 inches, in the smaller sizes, 2 to 2.5 inches in the larger sizes. The range varies depending on the age demographic of a brand, depending on the lifestyle tribes that the brand is aspiring to, depending on the silhouettes of the creative designer.”
Lots of articles have been written about the absurdity that any given person can be a size 0 in one brand, a 4 in another and an 8 in another (or a 32 or 38 or 40 if we’re being European, or a 6 or 10, say, if in England). Despite the silliness of that, the fact that the sizes can be anything at all is indicative of what Cora Harrington, the founder of the Lingerie Addict, recently called out in a viral tweet storm as “thin privilege.”
Because annoying as it is, that person is still able to find clothes that fit in pretty much any place they wander into, even if the sizes vary, which is not true of women size 14 and up. Which is itself ridiculous given that the average American woman now wears clothing in size 16 to 20, according to a study in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education.