Retailer J.Crew has found itself under fire this week for introducing a teensy-tiny new size: 000. But while critics charge it’s a “vanity sizing” move that will only further encourage body shame and eating disorders, the retailer insists the goal is to keep up with the demand in Asia, where bodies tend to be smaller. The size, however, will be available for purchase online in the United States.
“We are simply addressing the demand coming from Asia for smaller sizes than what we had carried. Our sizes typically run big and the Asia market tends to run small,” a J.Crew spokesperson told "Today" (though the company would not comment for Yahoo Shine beyond confirming that the size was introduced at the opening of a Hong Kong store in May.) “To further put into perspective, these sizes add up to the smallest possible percentage of our overall sizing assortment. Also to note, J.Crew’s sizes run across the board to try and accommodate as many customers as possible… We run up to size 16, we carry petites and talls, and our shoe sizes run from 5 to 12."
But in a fashion climate often dominated by discourse on emaciated models, “fatkini” controversies, and plus-size poster girls, the preppy-chic clothing seller seems to have stepped into its biggest controversy since CEO Jenna Lyons painted her young son’s toenails hot pink.
Bloggers and tweeters seized the opportunity to point out the body-image implications. “J.Crew’s vanity sizing has reached a whole new level of crazy,” notes shopping blog Racked, referring to the practice of the retailer increasing its measurements for each size, thus making an 8 a 6, a 6 a 4, and so forth, to appeal to the self-esteem of female consumers.
“Vanity sizing is based on the misguided notion that you need to lie to women in order to sell clothing,” notes the blog Capitol Hill Style in response to J. Crew’s 000. “It promulgates the damaging concept that self-worth is directly proportional to clothing-tag size. And negatively [affects] girls’ feelings about their bodies before they’re mature enough to know that they’re defined by more than a number assigned to them by a clothing company.”
There were various sound-offs on Twitter as well, from jokes to outrage.
Meh, wake me when J. Crew introduces a Size 00000. I have a finger that needs pants.
— Dale Seever (@DaleRadio) July 10, 2014
J Crew vanity sizing is completely absurd. I am a size 4 and regularly buy size 00 there. It makes zero sense. http://t.co/e6bRTCx3er
— Maggie LaMaack (@MaggieLaMaack) July 10, 2014
— Louise McDermott (@mcxdermott) July 10, 2014
Even the National Eating Disorders Association has jumped into the fray. “We are disappointed that J.Crew is competing in the race to achieve a new low in marketing which promotes poor self-esteem and dangerous weight-loss behaviors,” president and CEO Lynn Grefe announced in an official statement.
“The company’s new, 000 sizing will only triple the practice of unhealthy dieting in a society obsessed with skinny,” she continues. “Sadly, some of those vulnerable to eating disorders will compete to fit in this new ‘size.’ And, others will be subjected to even worse self-image challenges, because they can never achieve such an unrealistic goal naturally.” Further, Grefe noted her orgnaization would be happy to meet with J.Crew’s powers that be to educate them on how this can damage consumers, “particularly our youth.”
Stay tuned for details from that (highly unlikely) tête-á-tête…
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