23 June 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Grazia Reports On The Rise Of Size Triple Zero

Eight years ago, the world was introduced to – and horrified by – the phenomenon of size double zero. Then, last week, it emerged that in order to meet the demands of an ever-increasing ‘skinny Hollywood’, shoppers can now buy size triple zero. Grazia reports... 

Cast your mind back to 2006. It was the summer of the World Cup, WAGs – and, as exclusively reported in Grazia, size double zero. Hollywood was full of pin-thin party girls who were exercising and dieting themselves to reach the next step on from size zero... size double zero.

Eight years on, another World Cup has started and Hollywood is full, once again, of the pin thin. Only this time, they’re heading towards size triple zero. For a while, it seemed the size zero phenomenon was over after the introduction of ‘strong is the new skinny’ – a celebration, if you like, of a more balanced and healthy attitude to body shapes. So why the return? ‘Right now it’s in to be thin in Hollywood,’ an LA source told Grazia last week. ‘Although there are thankfully curvier role models out there, from Kim Kardashian to Beyoncé, it’s a cut-throat industry and it’s no secret that stars can make headlines out of being scarily skinny. It’s not about size zero anymore. These days, double- zero sizes don’t cut it either. Size triple zero is the number-one goal here.’

The original American size zero is the equivalent of a UK size four. A double zero is a UK two. A triple zero is a UK zero–a whole five sizes smaller than a UK size 10. To put it in context: a size zero measures 25 inches around the waist; a triple zero is 23 inches – the same as the waistband on a six-to-eight-year-old girl’s skirt.

Technically, an American triple zero does not exist on the high street in the UK. But there are some US brands you can buy here, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, who use this size in their labelling. Both UK and American labels vary wildly in their size charts and there are no standardised guidelines that they have to adhere to. This has led to the rise of ‘vanity and alpha sizing’ in order to flatter the consumer into making a purchase (see bottom of story).

[Instagram]

Along with vanity sizing, health experts also blame the recent boom in social media for the worrying rise in triple zero, and the pressures associated with the relentless phenomenon of selfie posting on Twitter and Instagram so beloved by models, actresses and It girls.

‘The selfie craze in particular has intensified this, and celebrities know that if they post a picture of themselves looking skinny, with ribs on show, they’ll get attention,’ says A-list trainer James Duigan. ‘But it isn’t always real – sometimes they’re breathing in and sometimes the angle makes them look thinner than they really are.'

‘Their weight struggles become their story. To be honest, I’ve seen this thing from a distance because the people I work with are focused on health and not being skinny, which is why they look good and feel good. When you lose weight too quickly or too severely, it just doesn’t work. The public may look at these women and see thinness, but they don’t see the injury, pain and hunger.’

A crop of girls including Alexa Chung, 30, model Langley Fox Hemingway, 24, Mary Charteris, 26, and Millie Mackintosh, 24, are particularly high-profile on social media. All fans of the selfie, their slight frames often prompt concern.

Kate Bosworth, 31, is another actress who appears to have dropped in size in recent months. And Nicole Richie, 32, the original poster girl for size zero back in the day, has been looking thinner than ever of late. ‘Nicole’s dangerously thin right now and she can apparently fit into her sons’ T-shirts,’ says our source. ‘[Her husband] Joel has been slowly sent crazy with worry while he’s been in Australia working on The Voice, but he’s back next week and hopes to monitor her eating. She just forgets and skips meals. Often she’ll go through a whole day with nothing but a bowl of cereal and piece of fruit in her. She’s well under size double zero and really struggles to find everyday wear. She insists she leads a healthy life, but you wouldn’t know it looking at her.’ 

Even those whose star is on the rise aren’t immune: Julie Bowen, 44, who plays Claire in the multi-award winning TV show Modern Family is becoming noticeably thinner as the series goes on, and admitted at last year’s Emmys that she starved herself to get into her dress. She caused a storm after the awards last year, with one headline asking, ‘Is skeleton the new skinny?’

[Instagram]

Another actress, Denise Richards, 43, has been slowly shrinking before our eyes as she goes through bitter alimony battles with ex-husband Charlie Sheen. ‘Denise always stops eating when she’s going through a personal drama and her huge clash with Charlie and being thrown out of her home has taken its toll,’ says our source.

And it’s not just celebrity selfies that are blurring the (size) lines. Several high-profile bloggers now use the new ‘skinny apps’ to slim their pictures for Instagram. SkinneePix, for example, is designed to reduce selfies by ‘five to 15lbs’ within seconds, while Plump&Skinny Booth boosts your chest while whittling your waist. Add that to the widespread use of Photoshop across all platforms, social media, which started out as a more ‘body real’ realm, has become just as distorted, with unobtainable body shapes as traditional media.

So, what’s the health cost of this new sub-size? ‘Quite simply, being underweight is just as unhealthy as being overweight,’ says doctor and nutritionist Dr Adam Carey. ‘When your BMI [Body Mass Index – a calculation of your height and weight to determine if you’re a healthy weight] drops below 18.5, you’re deemed underweight. When you start to fall too far below this – as certain celebrities do – your body fat starts to reduce, which leads to irregular periods. This means they’re not ovulating on each cycle, which stops hormones being produced by your ovaries. Women need to produce the hormone oestrogen to protect their bone health, so being underweight puts you at a far greater risk of the brittle bone disease osteoporosis.

[Instagram]

‘Secondly, when you crash-diet, you start to lose muscle mass instead of fat. This is the engine in your body that burns fuel; without it you start to get that wasted-away look. It also slows your metabolism, so eating the same amount of food causes weight gain and you have to eat less and less as time goes on. It also reduces your fitness levels, no matter how much exercise you do. Perhaps most frightening of all, chronic underfeeding causes you to lose heart muscle, which puts you at a greater risk of a heart attack.’ 

Why we fall for vanity sizing

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that women are more likely to buy a dress if it’s in a size that flatters their ego. Retail research proves that we are far more likely to leave a frock behind if it’s too small for us than seek out a larger size. The famous example of the results of vanity sizing is taken from the US department store Sears. In 1937, a 32in bust registered a size 14, but by 1967, the same measurement was transformed into an 8. By 2011, it was a 0.

Many high-end designers have also decided to go in for ‘alpha-sizing’: the practice of reducing size ranges to only four variants: 1-4 or XS-L.

The result of the lack of standardisation of sizes is complete chaos. Compare three different brand’s size 10: at Zara, you need measurements of bust/waist/hip 35.4in/27.5in/38.6in. At Asos, it’s 34in/26.75in/36.75in – a difference of nearly 2in at the hip. Designer clothes often offer smaller cuts – Carven’s size 10 bust measurement comes in at a weeny 32.25in.

Such shifts are reflective of a growing (outwards) population. On average, women’s measurements are larger than ever, which has led to demand for new, larger cuts as shoppers still wish to wear ‘standard’ – usually up to a 16 – sizes. Conversely, this has sized smaller women out of the market, leading to the rise of the triple zero. However, when size is the benchmark for self-worth, these extreme negative sizes are leading to women aspiring to be a shape that could be dangerously unhealthy for their frame. 

Size confused? We are too. Check back tomorrow for a full debate on the politics of sizing. Plus pick up Grazia tomorrow to see on the page just how small a 000 is...


Comments

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Denis Wallez (Tue Jun 24 11:23:34 BST 2014): Grazia editors should be ashamed! This is not the first coverage of "size 0" in the magazine but, beyond the apparent feminist outrage, Grazia falls for the classic "our audience wants to see thin models" to justify using (hence promoting as 'desirable') size-0 models… in its fashion pages every other issue. In this week's issue lamenting about the 'shock' of size 000, the main model in the fashion pages is too thin to be healthy! So stop blaming the selfie —after all, many celebrities covered by the magazine, from Beyonce to Kim K, are not thin!— and take responsibility for your editorial choices of models! The 'relentless pressure' is not primarily from selfies, it is from magazines which assert that such issues matter but then don't themselves walk the talk, and from editors who would die rather than pick a size-6 model and a photographer celebrating female shapes rather than shaming them! It's easy to blame others, what about looking at your own editorial contribution to the 'pressure'?
Katie Nattress (Tue Jun 24 13:49:07 BST 2014): I think it is really wrong for articles like this to call out particular celebrities and models for their body shape and size in a negative light. Not all of these people will have an unhealthy diet or lifestyle, and if they do, this is really not going to help them is it? Should Alex Chung not wear skirts just because she has slim legs? While I think it is important to draw attention to these labels and sizing regulations for their utter bullshit, I do not believe it is a good thing to show off particular women as advocates/examples of being triple 0 or whatever they are. This is really not responsible journalism in my opinion.
Yvonne Wojnar (Tue Jun 24 13:56:46 BST 2014): I think the only thing that's size Triple zero is the brain of the people that invented this size. It's horrifing to know that when I'll finish my fashion design studies that I have to work with skeletons! This is just wrong.
Jascha Eidam (Tue Jun 24 14:00:28 BST 2014): http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2914
Pay Avery (Tue Jun 24 23:03:37 BST 2014): Ever think its due to the fact that American sizes are shifting up. They are no longer standard. A size 12 back in the day is practically a size 6 now. To make women feel better about themselves. For smaller people like me, they need small sizes to compensate!
Bella Cherrypie Love (Wed Jun 25 12:00:09 BST 2014): I'm sorry but I just looked at the measurements needed for an Aeropostale size 000 and they are the equivalent of an ASOS size 4! Not a uk size 0! By there measurements in a 00 although I'm a very healthy size 6! not a tiny skeleton as people would perceive a size 00 to be! This is entirely vanity sizing!!!
Bella Cherrypie Love (Wed Jun 25 12:14:50 BST 2014): I have been looking into 2007 size 0 measurements and they are as follows bust:32" wasit23" hips34" these are the same measurements that you are saying now equates to a size 000 it's totally vanity sizing!
Political Toaster (Fri Jun 27 15:03:59 BST 2014): The Race to Triple Zero: The Polarization of Hyper Thin Culture http://politicaltoaster.blogspot.fi/2014/06/the-race-to-triple-zero-polarity-of.html Triple zero is another consequence of the exclusivity that adds desirability to hyper thinness in today's culture because in reality we are all getting heavier.
Mi Ko (Tue Jul 01 14:43:15 BST 2014): Great! Sending the wrong message to young women. I hate this superficial & insecure world.