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The new zero: are we living in the era of the incredibly shrinking woman?

Women's clothes have shrunk to a new low. Try size 00. Who wears a size 00? Desperate housewives on Wisteria Lane, for starters. Producers were so tickled to learn Eva Longoria is a size 00, they worked it into a script.


The woman is thin. Paper thin. If you held her up to a bright light, you could see her skeletal system.

Posh Spice recently made head lines custom-ordering blue jeans with a 23-inch waist. You know how small that is? I can tell you how small that is because I have just returned from my refrigerator with a tape measure. It is the circumference of a medium cantaloupe.

Today's stars build entire careers on not eating.

Still, you might think manufacturers would hesitate to tell a woman, any woman, a famous woman, even a not-so-famous woman, that she is a zero. A big fat (figure of speech) zero. Make that a double zero. You know, self-esteem and all that.

But they don't hesitate, because the smaller the garment size, the happier the woman. Why?. Because a smaller size means the brownies didn't count, the deep-dish pizza doesn't show, and there is more to life than red leaf lettuce.

All of which explains why clothiers have been practicing vanity sizing--cutting clothing larger but labeling it smaller. Some in the fashion world claim a size 8 in the 1950s became a size 4 in the 1970s and is a size 0 today. Call it the phenomena of the incredible shrinking woman.

Harvey Mansfield, author of Manliness, says men are conceited and women are vain.

The man is on to something. Only a woman will carefully drape a jacket over a chair so the tag doesn't show. Or does show. It depends on the size.

Men, on the other hand, wear their waist size and inseam length stamped on the back of their jeans and don't care who does or doesn't know that they have the dimensions of a cube.

When men's clothing goes beyond large, they just keep adding X's. If that XL shirt isn't big enough, get the XXL or the XXXL.

Women's clothiers have been adding X's as well, but to the other end of the scale. You can now buy an XXS shirt, although store managers say the new XXS is last year's XS. Small wonder.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which apparently has been spending a lot of time snooping in women's dressing rooms, says the average woman wears between a size 11 and 14. Who knows what that really means? We have sadly come to the time when you can't trust a tag. And now vanity sizing has spread to vanity aging. "Fifty--the new 30." "Sixty--the new 40." Right. Try telling that to the cardiologist. Dress size or age, nobody wants to be the number they really are. It's just a matter of time before a 50-year-old woman shows up at the license bureau demanding her age be listed as 30. If they refuse her request and she's still smiling, chances are she just bought a size 00 skirt.

If it were me, I'd wear it inside out.
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Author:Borgman, Lori
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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