Shopping was always a challenge for Mieke Westenbroek in Grade 7.
“I was super skinny and, like, it was hard for me to find clothes,” said Westenbroek.
Gwen Couillec can relate.
“I remember when 00 was too big for me,” said Couillec, 18.
The teens were surprised to hear there’s a new size in town, courtesy of American retail giant J. Crew: 000, fitting women with a 23-inch waist.
And the target market isn’t preteens.
“I find it a little unrealistic,” said Westenbroek.
Outrage has erupted online, and the company is defending its position, saying East Asian customers, often with petite builds, have requested smaller sizes.
Westenbroek and Couillec were shopping with Tayia Lalonde at the Rideau Centre Thursday, where J. Crew is opening it’s first Ottawa store in September.
“I just find it’s kind of ridiculous in a way,” said Lalonde, 18.
“Where’s the normal size, like medium?”
Jackie Grandy from the National Eating Disorder Information Centre said her group’s issue isn’t with the size itself.
“Vanity sizing has been going on for a long time. Clothing manufacturers have been deliberately (skewing) clothing labels for women and they’re not often true to size,” said Grandy.
It’s used to appeal “to that part of us that wants to fit into, you know, skinny jeans, or feel like we’ve lost weight and have to go down a size,” said Grandy.
“For us, the attraction there that happens with eating disorders is a dangerous one.”
Kat Gould from Kingston remembers when sizing was reasonable “and there was no such thing as a 0.”
Add two more zeros, and “that just seems like an unrealistic goal. I wonder if that would push people to diet so that they can have this trophy size,” said Gould.
She said size is a rough indicator when shopping for clothes that fit.
“Some brands fit bigger than others, but if I saw a 000 I would assume that it was for somebody that was, like, a runway model,” Gould said.
Her daughter Georgia Brais has many “skinny friends, but none of them are 000 by any means. I can’t even think of anyone that would be that small,” said Brais.
When it comes to her own clothing, “I think I’m average, and I can go from a 2 to an 8, but a 000, I don’t know.”