Does It Really Matter What Size Your Label Says? The Disturbing Rise Of Size Triple Zero

24 June 2014 by

In order to meet the demands of an ever-increasing 'skinny Hollywood', shoppers can now buy size triple zero

Eight years after the phenomenon of size double zero, it's now emerged there is a new disturbing size... TRIPLE zero. Grazia reveals in this week's issue this is thanks to the demands of an ever-increasing 'skinny Hollywood'. Here, two writers debate whether your the size your label says really matters...


No, says writer Tanith Carey:

Tanith Carey

‘I can still remember making that covert call from behind the curtain in the changing room of a High Street store. My personal trainer, a man who at the time I was seeing more than my husband, was naturally on speed dial. ‘I’m trying on dresses and this size 10 is tight on me!’, I hissed in such an accusatory tone there was no doubt I was holding him personally responsible.

The irony is that at that point five years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. Toned, I had bench pressed away my bingo wings and whittled down my wobbly bits with a sado- masochistic regime of squats, lunges and weights. So how could it be that here I was, staring into the abyss of my greatest fear; a size 12?

It was then that I realised I could no longer be ruled by the tyranny of those horrible little sizing labels, sewn into the back of my clothes. Of course our preoccupation with thinness has always been a numbers game. We are constantly counting calories, calculating BMI, working out body fat percentages. But today there’s one number that trumps them all; your dress size. The lower the digit, the higher your self-worth.

Over the last few years, we seem to have developed an oddly personal relationship with these figures, so intense that it can make or break our confidence in how we look. The problem is that even though we invest so much in these numbers, the arithmetic is no longer adding up.

Does It Really Matter What Size Your Label Says? The Disturbing Rise Of Size Triple Zero

Shrinking celebs including Langley Fox, Mary Charteris and Alexa Chung [Instagram]

When I first started shopping for clothes, the magic number was a size eight. Yet within a couple of decades, I find myself bringing up my daughters in a world where the aspirational size is a good four sizes smaller. These sizing tags have now shrunk not just to nothing – but to less than nothing with the advent of triple zeros.

Vanity sizing – designed to make you feel better by putting you a smaller size on the label than you actually are - means these figures have become maddeningly inconsistent. In one study, researchers measured 1,000 pairs of women’s trousers and found as much as an 8½-inch variation in the size-4 waist. No wonder that another piece of research by Size UK found that 60 per cent of us have no idea what size we really are.

The new ideal of triple zero should make us angry because we are being asked to practically disappear. We need to remind ourselves – and our daughters - that these sizes only fit eight-year-old girls, anorexics, or tragically the late Peaches Geldof. Yet already, I know mothers of 12-year-old girls who have sobbed in their arms on shopping trips because these children can’t fit into the clothing sizes they think they should be.

So if there’s one fashion lesson I’d like to pass on to my daughters Clio, 9 and Lily, 12, it’s this: Learn to use your own judgement. Most of all, I want my girls to know that they should grow up buying fashion based on what makes them look and feel good, not for the random number that appears on the sizing label.

Yes… says writer Olivia Foster

For me what size my label says has always mattered. Growing up I was always the ‘bigger’ girl in my friendship group. I was bullied about my body and I never felt comfortable with the way I looked. As a teen living in a school boarding house full of girls I would find it mortifying that many of my clothes were in sizes bigger than theirs – those little numbers 10, 12, 14, 16, indicators of so much more than your actual size, skinny was basically a one way equation for cool.

Fitting into a smaller size became an obsession, one I’ve never been able to shake. Whilst with age I’ve realised that unless I’m willing to eat nothing but lettuce leaves (I’m not) I’ll always be a curvy, I would be lying if I said it didn’t give me a thrill to fit into lower size clothes. Regardless of the fact that I know they’ve often been vanity sized to make me feel smaller.

Of course I know it’s shallow and I’m not so stupid as to think that it has any real weighting on my true shape – or who I am as a person. Occasionally fitting into an XS doesn’t actually mean I am the size of Giselle but for that brief moment of changing room glory it gives the chubby teenager inside me a massive boost of confidence.

Admitting that as a 26-year-old intelligent woman is difficult, but I’m not alone. I have friends who will cut labels out of clothes if the size they have bought doesn’t correspond to the size they want the world to think they are. And from my experience, ‘what size did you get it in?’ is as regular a question as, ‘where did you get it from.’ Size – unfortunately – matters.

Which means vanity sizing is a bit of a double-edged sword. Whilst fitting into a size 10 jean when really I’m more of a 12 gives me a euphoric rush, I’m crushed if I go into another shop, try something on and it doesn’t fit in the size I wanted it to. It makes me feel ridiculous and stupid plus I have no idea what size I really am.

Nothing is standardised - whilst in one shop you’re wearing a size 8 dress, in another you’re struggling to get one thigh into a size 14 jean. Therefore I know that logically it is stupid to put any credence on something which clearly means nothing given the variation.

And I often wonder if I would think differently about it had I actually been smaller, the sad thing is, I’m inclined to think the answer would be no.

What do you think? Tweet us at @grazia_live with the hashtag #size000 or email us at And don't forget to vote below...


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