What Do Your Jeans Say to You?

As Samantha and I sat in our living room chatting, we began to realize that her long-term battle with food was more about fitting-in-ness than fitness.

Sometimes we think that fitting into our jeans will finally enable us to feel like we truly fit in… or at least be a suitable substitute for the loving and accepting relationships we all crave. In a world where many of us feel constantly judged, beauty seems like an elusive and subjective commodity. We are barely off our training wheels before we begin to believe Love Handles are anything but; Muffin Tops do not make our morning; and freckles, braces, crooked noses and flawed skin are the equivalent of a D minus in the tenuous world of popularity.

Add to this that most of us view ourselves through a distorted lens. One large study in the US showed no significant relationship between objective and subjective measures of attractiveness. Even girls and women others saw as gorgeous did not necessarily see themselves as attractive. What is going on here?

The concept of beauty – and who has or does not have it – is one of the first messages many women receive. In many parts of the world, baby girls are more likely to be treated as fragile, dressed in pink and described from day one in terms of their “prettiness”. Yet…

  • In the US, 3 out of 4 of girls ages 8-12 would like to switch something about their appearance. 78% of 17-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies. And 6 out of 10 girls opt out of fun or important activities because they’re worried about the way they look.
  • Australian girls say that body image is one of the top three worries in life.
  • 1 in 3 6-year-olds in Japan experiences low body confidence.
  • More than 110,000 girls in Brazil underwent cosmetic surgery in 2009.
  • Studies in Finland, China, and the U.S. show that girls’ relationship with the way they look has an impact on their academic performance: girls who think they are overweight, regardless of their actual weight, have lower grades.[1]

Meanwhile, the sexualization of girls in all forms of media is a “broad and increasing problem harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development” in many ways: undermining a girl’s confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to anxiety, shame, and difficulty in developing a healthy sexual self-image; and linked to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and major depression or depressed mood, the most common mental health problems in girls and women.[2]

What does the fit of our favourite pair of  jeans say to and about us?

I’ve been pondering this a lot recently. Would love to hear your thoughts…


[1] Stats taken from studies by Dove and Misrepresentation

[2] According to the American Psychological Association Task Force Report