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The casual tyranny of retail Xs.

LABELS matter. When a piece of clothing looks good on you, it is easy to put the niggling ' XL' or ' XXL' tag scratching the nape of your neck out of your mind. But that doesn't mean it won't return to haunt you; because it so often does.

Hard as you try to hold your head up in a world increasingly obsessed with everything skinny -- where even new mothers have to deal with bitter criticism about all the ' baby weight' -- well, it's hard.

So, when Tyra Banks suggests renaming ' plus- size' as ' fiercely real', as a woman, I think I know where she's coming from. You must too, if you've ever had the good shopping attendant size you up before telling you, unsolicitedly, a certain thing is not available in " your size". If only I had a rupee for every time they have been proven wrong.

Truth be told, though, I don't mind ' plus- size' as much as the mindnumbingly insensitive ' XS', ' XL' and ' XXL'. I may be XXXL, but there is no need to rub it in my face, thank you very much. And this categorisation is hardly flattering for the thinner girls either -- I mean, is it supposed to be a morale booster for women that their clothes describe them as ' extra small'? That way, standardised number- based sizes are a lot more practical, and helpful.

They do away with the inherent judgement of the XSs and XLs while catering to different body types.

Some people argue that patronising titles such as ' fiercely real' would make women okay about being overweight. It's a fair enough point, but one that doesn't factor in the reality that the definition of being overweight has shrunken today to the point that women with a healthy weight are categorised as fat as well.

Nevertheless, if it's about taking judgement out of the joy of shopping, I don't think ' fiercely real' is the solution. Let's stick to sizes 4, 8, 12 and so on. Zero, as OTH taught me, was never a size anyway.

The ubiquitous XLs and XSs of retail clothing stores are based on an unnecessary conception of ' normality'

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Dec 28, 2013
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