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Size 36 : The tyranny.

Updated on October 17, 2011

For Cinderella it was a "glass slipper" that allowed her to find her Charming Prince and marry him to live happily ever after. In modern day life it is a Size 36 that we believe will open the doors to our "happy ever after". And it does not matter how good a girl looks, there will always be the phantom of the size 36 in the back of her head.

A size 36

For those who are not familiar with continental sizes, a size 36, is the equivalent of a British size 8 and an American 6. You are right... a 36 is a tiny size and there are not many women who can wear it.

I have never been able to fit a 36 for tops, but I do have a pair of Versace jeans in 36 which I wear proudly. Not because they are Versace... but because they are a size 36! Although secretly I am almost convinced that the size labels were changed at some point.

I say that because when I was in Spain, I worked in a boutique in Marbella for a couple of months. The boutique belonged to a heavy German lady who loved dressing baroque and provocative. She did not have any issues on being a big size, but soon she understood that most women were bothered asking for big sizes. So one day, tired of seeing women of all countries and shapes coming everyday to her shop and asking for a size far too small for them-which they never fitted- This lady opted for changing size labels. She employed a tailor to work at the back of the boutique changing all the size labels in a way that even a 42 sized lady could believe that she was buying a 36 size. I must admit that the strategy worked and the sales doubled.

People who work selling clothes to women, know this very well. I had a friend who worked in a designer shop in London. She was one of the best sellers because she had a knack for telling stories. As soon as she saw someone trying on a size 8 she would start a story about the designer being very small and making all her clothes accordingly small. Her trick was to boost the buyers' ego. To tell them that although they were trying on a size 10 or 12, that was only the equivalent of an ordinary 8. And people did believe her!

"thinspirational" Victoria Beckham
"thinspirational" Victoria Beckham

Why do we pant for a size 36 if it is so unrealistic?

The average women wears anything from a 38 to 40. So why do we punish ourselves with diets and exercises just to fit in a size 36.? It is not to please our boyfriends or husbands. They have already told us that they prefer us curvy. It is just to show to our girlfriends that we are masters of our bodies. The media has supported for a long time the idea that our weight depends on our determination. All diets tell us the same story: You can do it. In our society to be slim has become a synonym of success. How many times you or a girlfriend have gone on a diet after breaking up with a boyfriend just to show him that you do not need him, that you are successful enough without him? It is not only about being slim but keeping the weight down. We like to think that even if we have no control on what happens to us, at least we are in control of our body.

Even the most "disruptive" women live under the tyranny of the perfect body. Take Lily Allen, the bad girl of pop. At the start she was proudly showing her curves, but a few months ago she said in her blog that she was tired of being a "fat cow". The actual post has been deleted but next days' post is just as poignant. Now, why would someone successful and pretty like her,would say something like that?

Victoria Beckham and Geri Halliwell were both curvy girls at the start of their careers with the Spice girls. Nowadays, despite maternity, they look slimmer than ever! Victoria Beckham is featured on dozens of pro-anorexia sites thanks to her concave thighs, and emaciated body. She is been called a thinspiration

Scarlett Johansson.  Successfully resisting the 36 dictatorship
Scarlett Johansson. Successfully resisting the 36 dictatorship

For the Hollywood girls, the battle is even harder. With the new high quality screens, being a size 36 is not enough... a 34 is more desirable. But thankfully, there are more and more stars that are resisting this dictatorship of the size 36. Kate Winslet, Shakira, Scarlett Johansson are just a few of them.

Those of us who had spend part of our lives dieting and exercising know that being slim is not the door to happiness. We might be pleased to see ourselves in the mirror, we might be pleased to have our girlfriends complimenting our slimness... but at what price? Is it really worth it?

I remember my husband complaining that I was always irritable when I was slim. Frustrated If had not eaten something I wanted or guilty if I had! It certainly was not happiness for my husband...

Being more relaxed about weight allows you to enjoy more your life, as you are not focussed on calorie counting. For instance, if you are not dieting, you do not refuse going out for dinner or a drink with friends. We become more receptive to others and life, in summary... we enjoy our lifes.

Is a size 36, dangerous for your health?

In his book, Les hommes préferent les rondes (Men prefer curvy women), Dr. Pierre Dukan affirms that: "Without changing eating habits, a woman gains 1 kg. with each child that she has and 1,5 kg. every 10 years". Therefore, trying to unnaturally keep down to a size too small for you has devastating effects on your body. Diets, often deprive the organism of vitamins, most commonly of vitamin D and E found in fats. In the long term this causes osteoporosis in women no older than 50 and problems with the joints.

In the short term, the lack of vitamins and minerals produces physical fatigue. This, added to pregnancies and hormonal changes, make women more likely to suffer from chronic fatigue than men.

Too Skinny

Love your body, love yourself the way you are:


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Ummmm a size 36/US 6 is NOT small!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was at an auction site and Scarlett had put up her size 27 jeans for auctions, so she's actually about a 34/36, though she looks voluptuous because she has a small frame. I wear a 36 and honestly I consider myself to be average sized. I'm 5'6 and 135 lbs and measure 35-26-36. I am not naturally thin. I don't starve myself. Actually, I eat tons of meat, carbs, sweets, olive oil etc. I simply watch my weight, run around like crazy and fidget all the time. I was anorexic as a teenager, but it taught me to be vigilant about my weight. I feel lazy and fat when I get to a size 8 and my stomach is no longer flat. My sister is a natural size 4. She looks like fat a size 6. She's very petite and her excess weight accumulates around her stomach. My mother and my aunt, who are both in their 50s are 10s and my 86-year-old grandmother is an 8. If you look back at Sears catalogues from the 20s, 30s, 40s, clothes generally went from 32" - 44" bust, about a modern standard 0-12. Plus size clothes usually had to be specially ordered. Very few women should be much over a 14 with proper diet and exercise

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      Ivorwen: I know what you mean, it is bad enough having to remember your size in different countries, but it is even worse when sizes in one place vary according to the manufacturer and his "tricks" to sell more. Buying vintage is a good solution, plus of course usually clothes are better cut and the materials way better than the new ones around.

    • Ivorwen profile image


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      I am so disgusted by the way manufactures change the sizes on clothing to make big women feel better. According to the charts, I am a USA size 4, but I can tell you, in real life that is a BIG lie. For the last 6 months I have been shopping for a skirt. Every one that has had a fitted waist has been 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) too big for me! It is no wonder there is 00 clothing. It is the only way to keep naturally slim girls covered... unfortunately, manufactures seem to thing that anyone that small is also short. :(

      Another note, less than 60 years ago, my size was considered standard, commonly labeled 'Medium'. I shop vintage clothing and sew from vintage patterns for this reason.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      Sanna: I accept that there are lots of very slim girls who eat healthy and do not put in weight.

      What I am against is all the women who are not genetically thin and starve themselves unhealthily to achieve a size that is not theirs.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I noticed it's an old post but i still have to mention this. Size 36 is not crazy thin, i'm a small girl and have always been, i eat what i want but i mostly eat healhy. It's different for everyone, many of the ideals today are unhealthy but i think fat is a bigger issue right now. I moved to England from Holland five months ago, and i'm still shocked by all the overweight people. Just a few decades ago overweight was unusual and a size 36 pretty normal. There was no fast food chains with meat, meat and meat(!) and fried food. Women like Scarlet Johansen are healthy, but skinnier women are too, everyone is different. You cannot say size 36 is unrealistic.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      Quizzle: thanks for the visit and the comment, really good point. Our basic body shape cannot be changed even with major surgeries.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub! Also, many women overlook that people are different sizes. Some people are born a bit stumpy, but eating absolutely nothing for weeks on end will not change that. Everyone has a basic shape that cannot be altered through dieting or exercise, or, sometimes, even plastic surgery.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      LondonGirl: yes she did look much better, healthier and prettier.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      9 years ago from London

      Victoria Beckham looked much better before she got so thin.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Kenny, nice of you to remind us that. When someone likes us or loves is for WHO we are and not much for how do we look :-) We really need to understand that, accept our bodies and be happy with them the way we are.

      Isabella, that's right, a waist makes all the difference. But it is so difficult to get!!

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 

      11 years ago

      It's all about the waist. If you have a proper waist, any size is sexy. :)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      11 years ago from Chennai

      Actually, nice men are not bothered with sizes of individual parts, but look holistically. The total effect. Sigh. But you say women push themselves into tight sizes not for men, but for other women. Another sigh.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Hi Steph, I am happy you are over you eating disorder. It is very difficult for women not to fall in the trap. It requires a strong personality and a healthy self esteem to get over it. Cheers!

      Thegecko, I like your message... A size 00?... what's next?

      Scarlett is a lovely lady djtphn, I admire her resistance to complay with hollywood silly beauty rules!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      11 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hey - I love your hub! I struggled for years with an eating disorder before I "grew out" of it, literally. Thank you for publishing a great article. Cheers, Steph

    • thegecko profile image

      Warren Samu 

      11 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Very informative and analytical. I cannot believe that in the US, companies dish out a size 00.

      I can only think of one message the fashion industry is saying to women... you are not just nothing, you are nothing twice over.

    • djtphn1 profile image


      11 years ago from Riverside County, California

      I just love Scarlett Johansen, glad you included her as resisiting...... Thanks for the hub, very nicely done.

    • djtphn1 profile image


      11 years ago from Riverside County, California

      I just love Scarlett Johansen, glad you included her as resisiting...... Thanks for the hub, very nicely done.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Well said Zsuzsy. Thanks for your input.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      11 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      In my opinion as long as one is healthy and active size should matter little.

      great HUB

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      C-S I hope you enjoyed Lily's song. Thanks for the comment on the photo ;-)

    • compu-smart profile image

      Tony T 

      11 years ago from London UK

      Lily Allen is a favorite singer of mine.. I also like your new profile pic ;)

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Brandy, thanks for your comment. It is incredible how a size 6 can be consired fat, and a size 0 is crazy!!

      Fitness is a very valid reason to loose weight, as you do it in a healthy way. Good luck with it :-)

    • Brandy Owens profile image

      Brandy Owens 

      11 years ago from Wherever life takes me

      Great hub. :) Unfortunately, size 6 in America is still considered "fat" by some. There are people aiming for (or at) American size 0! :| That just seems like striving to be a size 0 means that you strive to be nothing, but that's probably just me. :P

      Personally, yeah, I do want to lose some weight. However, that's because of physical fitness and whatnot, not to show that I can or to fit in. :P

      I'm glad you wrote this hub. Great job. I don't understand the fixation either.


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