Dear Totally Impractical Size Chart for Women’s Clothing,

I’ve been dealing with you for nearly twelve years, since that summer in junior high when I skyrocketed to atmospheric heights, head and shoulders above my classmates, and the clothing in the kids’ section of the department store no longer fit my long legs and gangly arms. My mother took me to your side of the store, and, for a moment, I felt mature, womanly, the kind of mystical feminine that one only sees in movies. I was one step closer to being an adult. I was happy. And then I tried on your clothes.

Everything I tried on I had to try on in threes. For years, I’ve been carting trilogies of skirts and pants into the dressing room, armfuls at a time, because I have no idea what size I wear. I can make an approximation, but that “size” ranges between three of your numbers, depending on the store, because these sizes don’t actually mean anything. I’m an 8, but an 8 of what? Inches? Feet? Joules, the numeric value describing the relation between heat and mechanical work that I used in my high-school physics class and then never again? Is that it?

Why can’t you just use inches, like the male size chart? Why is that too hard? Do you think women will feel paranoid if we suddenly go from single- to double-digit numbers? We already have to convert in our heads whenever we buy clothes that come from any other country except America.

You have wasted hours of my life, Totally Impractical Size Chart for Women’s Clothing. Women spend days each year standing in dressing rooms, one hand on the mirror, the other tugging on a pair of jeans, trying to force them up because, damn it, the label says they’re their size. And don’t think that women are the only ones hassled. Men spend a good amount of time dealing with your repercussions, too. If we have to buy a pair of pants that are a size larger than what we normally wear, you can bet we’re going to go home cranky. When the men watch television with us that evening, we will notice them staring a little too longingly at Courtney Cox or Jessica Alba, and we will pick a fight. “You think she’s pretty?” we will say. “Yeah,” the men will reply. “Is she prettier than me?” The men will take a split second too long to respond, and we will say “Oh! I see how it is!” When the men finally get the words out, when they finally say, “No, honey. You’re pretty, too. And besides, Jessica Alba looks nothing like you,” we will interpret that to mean “because you’re a fat cow,” and then we will cry.

See the pain and suffering you have caused? If only you were a sensible size chart, one using inches, or even centimeters, the world would be a better place. Women wouldn’t have to carry pant triplets into the dressing rooms, and couples wouldn’t fight over Jessica Alba on television. We could direct our attention to more important things, like world peace. But because of you, we still have war and violence. I hope you’re happy.

Claire Suddath
Nashville, Tennessee