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Coming Out As Wearing a "Women's" Size

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Like many women, I am in constant pursuit of losing those last 10 pounds. At last count, I have 12 "week one booklets" from Weight Watchers. I still have my Jenny Craig scale purchased during one of the three or four times I was a member. I have numerous weight loss books on my shelf and hundreds of torn out magazines pages of diet menus that are neatly filed in a large, manila envelope. And like many women, I have tagged suits and dresses in my closet that do not fit... at least right now. When I lose 10 pounds, I will be able to wear them, even if they are dated.

At my age and given my weight history, I consider myself lucky to be a size 14. I have never had any aspirations for being anything under a size 12 (my goal weight and size achieved 20 years ago). Growing up, I do not remember there ever being a size 2, let alone a size 0.

However, I do remember in the 7th or 8th grade moving from Junior sizes to Misses and feeling congratulatory about having done so. I was now considered grown up and being able to move out of Junior sizes meant that I had boobs. I was proud of that fact and talked about it with my girlfriends. Those in my clique who had not graduated to misses felt doomed to a life of having to appear sexy wearing jumpers instead of sheath dresses. Those of us already in misses sizes felt sorry for those left behind.

Ten years ago, my mom gave me a dress that didn't fit her and that she thought I might like to have in lieu of returning it. Although I liked the style, the dress did not fit despite the fact that it was my size. It was way too big in the bust area. Examining the tag, I noticed there was a "W" behind the number 14. Curious, I asked my mom what the "W" stood for and was introduced to women's sizes.

Fast-forward to a recent shopping trip where I was gleeful to find out that a dress fit me in my size, despite the fact that I had not lost those 10 pounds and had even gained a few. How fabulous was that! I brought the dress home and later examined the tag. There it was... the dreaded "W" behind the number. Unlike the exhilaration I felt moving from Juniors to Misses, I was not happy about this leap to women's sizes. More boobs meant that I now resembled Louise Jefferson of the 1970/'80s sitcom, and could practically use my boobs as a shelf to hold my drink at a party.

Unlike when I moved from Junior to Misses, I did not talk about it with my friends. I didn't even talk about it with any of my sisters, even though we are all around the same age. I especially did not share this news with two of my sisters. One who lives in Chicago is an image consultant and still a size 8 Misses Petite. She believes she is fat. Another sister is as tall and slender as she was in high school. She would never be able to grasp the meaning of Women's sizes. Her body has remained the same and so has her style choices. I have seen her in the same outfit that I have seen on my friend's 25-year-old daughter. At another time while visiting and shopping with her in Atlanta, she encouraged me to buy a style that I thought would not be appropriate for my age and body type. She insisted that it would look great. In fact, she declared, she saw it on a girl that was big. "I mean really big," she said. "Like about a 14 or 16!"

"I'm a 14/16," I gingerly replied.

"Oh," she responded with genuine pity.

Luckily, I do have one sister who shares the same size. Recently, I gave her a gift card to the same clothing store where I accidentally discovered Women's sizes. She had a similar experience and confessed that nothing in Misses fits, even when she tried on a larger size. Then, she found her size with the "W" behind the number. Voila!

I didn't realize that a woman's physical development could be understood through standard clothing sizes. The industry is obviously aware that somewhere along the age line, for many women at a certain age, what was once on their rear somehow appears on the front side and designed clothing accordingly. I also didn't realize that Women's sizes were also considered plus sizes. So, in many ways, writing this post is a kind of "Brene Brown of Daring Greatly confession." Owning the fact that a plus size (ouch!) fits my body even though I continue to exercise and eat healthy foods means that my body has matured along with the rest of my life. Although the fact makes me feel vulnerable, a mature body is a gift for which I am very grateful.

Yet, I will never give up on losing those 10 pounds that should be more like 20 now. In the meantime, when I am not into embracing a plus size, there are always those stores that are great at vanity sizing. I actually am a size 2 at Chico's!