Becoming Size Zero

The Math is All Wrong.

      When I was around 13 years old I read an article about a supermodel that cited her the height and weight. My recollection is that she was 5’-9” and 124 pounds, at the time I think I was 5’-8” and I about 128. (I don’t want to head down a big rabbit hole but just the fact that I know how much I weighed at 13 presages the many years I spent suffering from eating disorders) I remember thinking that her body was completely out of reach and I could never be a supermodel. This is the way perfectionists see the world. Close isn’t good enough, nothing is good enough.
      For most of my life, I judged myself by two numbers, my clothing size, and my weight. The lower the number the better. As an anorexic, my main objective wasn’t just perfection it was to disappear entirely. No weight would ever be low enough. This fantasy of weighing nothing, taking up no space and vanishing extended to every aspect of life and it was fueled by shame. I believed I was just a big problem that couldn’t be fixed.

      Everywhere I looked in society this errant message was reinforced: My main purpose is to look good, not make waves and keep quiet, essentially disappear. Women who spoke up or stood up for themselves were demonized. (Most recently Christine Blasey Ford, but this list stretches back to Serena Williams, Anita Hill, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and even further back to Susan B. Anthony and Margaret Fuller)
      This is why the existence of size zero concerns me. It was created for women of small stature but I see it as a symbol of troubling relationship many women have with their own bodies. Think about the message size zero sends, even for the women who fit in it. It says “You are so small you are nothing.” If you’re like me, you may have secretly thought ‘I wish I was a size 0.’ It's just like my anorexic pursuit of trying to be nothing.
      This is one of the thousands of ways we diminish our humanity and subject ourselves to outrageous standards. What if, for just one week you gave up these unrealistic and arbitrary measurements of who you are? What if it didn’t matter how much you weighed or what size you wear? How would that feel?
PS. Since the 1970’s women’s clothing sizes have changed drastically, click the link for a little history.

Stephanie MillerComment