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 Huang 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
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!”
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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.