Vanity Sizing

If you have been around for a while, and have been wearing clothes while you’ve been around, you may have noticed a marketing trend called “Vanity Sizing.” This is a practice by clothing manufacturers where clothing sizes are being redesigned to fit an ever expanding national waistline. People are getting taller and wider, and the response to this is that clothing sizes are getting smaller. That would seem to be a paradox, but think about what size you wore ten to twenty years ago compared to now.

I found a favorite wool dirndl skirt in our attic when we moved several years ago. It had been my go-to skirt in college. I added a maroon turtleneck sweater, a wide belt and a pair of boots and I was ready for anything. I tried it on, knowing there was no way it would fit. It cut through my waist like a garrote as I tried to force the button into the hole. Nope, goodbye dirndl skirt. You did not spark joy! As I tossed it into the thrift store pile, I glanced at the label. It was FOUR SIZES larger than the size I was currently wearing, and I couldn’t get it on.

And to make things more confusing, each manufacturer targets its median size toward a different customer. Ann Taylor’s median woman is much different than American Eagle’s median customer. So you might be a comfortable 2 in Ann and find that you will need a 4 or 6 with the Eagle. Men’s wear has undergone the same changes; a pair of size 36 jeans at Old Navy actually measures a 41 inch waistband.

Vanity indeed! They have figured out that if we can buy a size or two smaller at their store, we will return. You got me, Ann.

Vanity, or the practice of focusing on worthless things, is nothing new. See what the writer of Ecclesiastes has to say about the vanity of his day:

Ecclesiastes 1 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Vanity of Life

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

3 What profit has a man from all his labor

In which he toils under the sun?

4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes;

But the earth abides forever.

5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,

And hastens to the place where it arose.

6 The wind goes toward the south,

And turns around to the north;

The wind whirls about continually,

And comes again on its circuit.

7 All the rivers run into the sea,

Yet the sea is not full;

To the place from which the rivers come,

There they return again.

8 All things are full of labor;

Man cannot express it.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing,

Nor the ear filled with hearing.

9 That which has been is what will be,

That which is done is what will be done,

And there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which it may be said,

“See, this is new”?

It has already been in ancient times before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things,

Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come

By those who will come after.

Doesn’t that just cheer you right the heck up? Geez. But there is so much truth in it. Everything, and I mean everything, fades to nothing. You work hard all your life, and then your generation passes away and is replaced. The sun and the rivers remain, but for the rest of us, there is nothing new under the sun. So let this be our take-away this morning: it doesn’t matter what the number is on the label of your jeans. It doesn’t matter if you need to lose ten pounds or gain ten pounds. It doesn’t matter what you will wear today, so WHY WORRY?

What matters, what lasts, what is NOT vanity, is the one-size-fits-all love of God. Putting that on every morning will fit you for today and the rest of your life, until you reach your eternal destination. The rest? It’s all small stuff. Don’t sweat it.

One-size-fits-all love: it’s what all the cool kids are wearing.

One comment

  1. Sharon Whitehurst · July 23, 2019

    Vanity Sizing reminded me of a customer I assisted about ten years ago. The store owners had a rack of clothing that was labeled with sizes that were very undersized. For several years they tried to sell these items. Finally in an attempt to recoup some money tied up in inventory they drastically reduced the prices. Enticed by the sale a woman saw some capri pants that she loved. I told her the sizes ran small and to try on a size larger than she normally wore. She didn’t like it but took the medium size into the dressing room and discovered they fit. When she came out of the dressing room she announced that she had NEVER wore a size medium in her life. I told her to cut the tag out and no one would know.


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