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Shopping around
the world: the ‘large’ problem

Written by Amy McPherson, 2 years ago, 5 Comments
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Shopping around the world  can be a lot of fun, until you are faced with unfamiliar dress sizing that can make you delighted or horrified. Amy McPherson shares her travel and shopping anxieties and explain why sometimes it might be wise to leave your self-esteem at home and just enjoy the experience. 

“Large! Large!” the owner of the shop was following my movements closely as I finger through the size labels of each dress on the counter, and uttered these two most horrific words ever known to my ears.

Large, how could I be large? It was only last week I bought a t-shirt that was sized ‘small’. I shot her a look, took the items of her suggestion and determined to prove her wrong.

Trying it on 

In the dressing room I eyed the floral patterned dress then sized myself in the mirror. It looked like it might fit. I double checked the label, and in bold letters it screamed out at me: LARGE.

Oh no. I’ve been in Bangkok for two days and I’ve already eaten myself to large.

Tactlessly, my husband laughed at my anguish as I handed money over for the dress that fits (Yes, the label still said large). “Don’t forget you are in Asia, and here, you are kind of freakishly big for an Asian!”

Sizes of the world 

I sometimes forget the world doesn’t have standard sizing, and I often panic for no reason.

In Europe sizes are double digit numeric numbers in twenties, thirties and forties; in Australia, they come in S/M/L or eight/ten/twelve sizes and I loved shopping in North America where my size drops down to a simple one. In Asia however, high self-esteem is hard to come by when nothing smaller than large would fit.

Size vs perception 

It’s not just about the sizing. Women in the world also have different points of view on what actually fits.

There was one instance when I thought a larger size would have fit me better. I was in La Spezia, on Italy’s north coast, gateway to the famous Cinque Terre. I had forgotten to bring my bathing suit with me on this trip, so at the first opportunity I hopped into a swimwear store to select suitable bikinis. The helpful assistant handed me four pairs, each of them covered just enough for me to appear decent. When I requested for one size larger she looked at me with a glance that suggested I was crazy. “Why? This is perfect! It shows off your womanly body to everyone!”

READ MORE: Are you packing too much?

My womanly body was too modest for showing off so to the dismay of the shop assistant I bought the larger size willingly.

To standardize or not to standardize? 

It makes me wonder why the world doesn’t just standardize sizing. It would make the lives of traveling women of this world so much easier if our clothe sizes were comparable. Sometimes I just needed to replace that pretty little top I torn while trekking in the countryside of Italy, when I simply want to walk into a shop, grab exactly the item I need, in the size that I want, pay for it and get on with my traveling day.

Standardized sizing will also decrease the amount of unnecessary shock and last minute on the road diets, an undesirable outcome when you are faced with all the food the world has to offer and you end up eating lettuce.

On the other hand, if we had standardized sizing and standardized body image, shopping around the world wouldn’t be as fun, although it does help to have an open mind, especially when shopping in Asia.

Have you had trouble finding clothes to fit when shopping around the world? Have you also ever suffered from the sudden ‘large’ syndrome? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Amy McPherson

Amy is corporate slave who is a travel junkie at heart. Thanks to public holidays and annual leave allowances, she never passes an opportunity to get out of the house, and only wishes it was closer to the airport. She studied in Germany, met her husband while doing volunteering work in Peru and got married in Vanuatu. They have no plans to stop travelling yet, though their cats keep complaining about their frequent absences.

  1. LorenaApril 20, 2012, 2:42 pm

    Hi Amy!
    I loved your article! Yes, indeed, sizes can be so different everywhere! Also the perceptions of what size fits or not (like your anecdote on the bikini in Italy) is sometimes dizzying! I guess the best thing is to buy what you feel comfortable in and what YOU think looks good on you! Good questions posed though! :)

    Reply
  2. Amy HuangApril 21, 2012, 6:07 am

    Thanks Lorena! Yes, we should all go with our instincts and get what we think is best for us – and not to look at the size labels! :)

    Reply

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