Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Joy comes in all shapes and sizes... not just triple zero

Amy Winehouse's dad has said no to a biopic about the late singer
Amy Winehouse's dad has said no to a biopic about the late singer

Eight years ago we had the emergence of a worrying phenomenon: the rise of the double zero dress size, equivalent to our size two. We were all suitably appalled at the idea of women desperately trying to shrink themselves, not just into regular zeros, but double zeros. Hollywood stars diminished, their heads becoming ginormous balloons by comparison with their brittle, skeletal frames.

The latest issue of Grazia magazine warns readers of an even crazier trend that's happening right now: size triple zero. US size zero measures 25 inches around the waist. A triple zero measures a teeny 23 inches.

The body type is far worse than author Tom Wolfe's scrawny "social X-rays". This is girls like Kate Bosworth and Alexa Chung and high street store Abercrombie & Fitch has already begun stocking the severely diminutive size.

Clearly, normal and healthy is the new fat. Girls are taught that tiny is best from a very tender age. Just look at the story of Cinderella.

Her ugly sisters are so desperate to fit themselves into her tiny glass slippers that they saw off their own toes and heels into bloody stumps.

The late Amy Winehouse said the secret to her success was losing weight: "It's not just my music. It's because I'm so f****** thin. I had the same voice when I was fat, but no one gave a s*** then." Kelly Osbourne has said: "Suddenly everyone likes me, because I've lost two stone. Why? Was I a bitch before?"

A 2012 report, How We See It: Survey on Young People's Body Image, found that three-quarters of teenagers here rank body image as important to them.

More than 50% of the 2,000 people questioned said their body image hinders their daily life, including things like dating, uploading photos onto social media sites and going swimming.

The authors also found that body image declines very steadily throughout the teenage years. In fact, 15-year-olds are the least happy with their body image and more than half of all those surveyed said that comparing themselves with others negatively impacts on their own body image.

We women do all kinds of mad things in our eternal quest to be skinny. We'll try out unhealthy and medical unproven diets, worry about ketosis breath and glycaemic loads, and subsist on bowls of watery cabbage broth in the hope of getting a "bikini body", when the only people who will actually see us on the beach are our friends, boyfriend and a bunch of strangers we'll never see again.

We measure our sense of self-worth by our dress size. I've marched out of changing rooms in frustration when the size I wanted to buy didn't correspond with the size I actually am.

I've felt a euphoric rush each and every time I could buy a smaller size, regardless of the fact that I fully well knew the garment had most likely been vanity-sized to make me feel smaller.

Thin-sprirational role models are nothing new. So will savvy grown-up women suddenly start starving themselves into a size triple zero frock? Probably not.

Every woman knows that there really are no standard sizes when it comes to clothing and most of us have around three or four different sizes in our wardrobe.

Ultimately, this triple zero nonsense just shows up fashion for the fickle and silly industry it is. But it does draw our attention once against towards our collective body dysmorphia.

We just all need to accept that being thinner won't ever make us happier. And that will only happen when we stop attaching any importance to the size on our clothes labels.

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