Size 3 is Commonplace. Size 0 is Fashionable.

In the States I always felt pretty good about my weight and clothing size. I worked out a few times a week and went on health food binges from time to time. I was skinnier than most but never considered “too skinny”. I guess you could say I was pretty average.

It’s different here.


I met a girl named Liz who studies here at Oxford. One day we decided to go shopping in one of the malls nearby campus. The first store we went in was called Zara. Half of the store was pretty reasonably priced and the other half was a little more high end. Naturally, at first I stuck to the side that had prices that wouldn’t break the bank if I bought something. I found a pair of pants that looked pretty nice. I decided to try them on. I wear a size 5/6 in the States so I looked to see if the tag had the US equivalent on it. It did. I grabbed size 6 and held them up for reference. I was absolutely alarmed because their “US 5/6” looked to be about a size 0. Hmmm… I decided to try a size up hoping it was perhaps labeled wrong or something. No such luck. Size 7 looked to be about an actual US size 2. That would have MAYBE fit me in middle school. I glanced around the store at the other girls digging through the pants rack. My eyes made their way down to their legs to somehow solve this mystery of why the sizes were so small. A twiggy brunette next to me calmly picked up a US size 3. (Which is really more like a US Size negative 4 which doesn’t actually exist). She spoke in French to her skeleton friend who giggled and grabbed a pair of white skinnies. They flounced off to the dressing room and my eyes followed them. Their legs were literally TINY. Like, they had ZERO percent fat on their legs. Somehow, they still looked somewhat muscular. I picked up my US Size 12 and sadly followed them.

I have literally doubled in pants sizes upon coming here. How?

I tried them on and they didn’t fit great. They were somehow too tight in the thighs and butt and too loose in the waist. A total disaster. Whatever. There was a tall girl who had to weigh about 115 lbs trying on a fluffy jacket as I came out of the dressing room. She seriously didn’t even look healthy but somehow she looked so beautiful at the same time. I started to feel a little pride for my American roots. In America “strong not skinny” and “curvy” and “girls who life” are common terms. Being a little “thicker” is acceptable. Here being rail thin is certainly the “in” trend. If you’re healthy and rail thin that’s great… but I’m not sure if some of these girls are. Many of them may be but there are others who’s eyes look dead with skin that’s nearly translucent.

However, I will say that it’s very impressive how into exercise many people are here. I forgot to bring tennis shoes so I went out and bought a pair. In the States workout clothing is RIDICULOUSLY overpriced. Here it’s actually quite reasonable. I bought my tennis shoes for about 14 pounds (so like 23 US dollars). The rest of the workout clothes were also ten time cheaper than in the States. I started jogging in the mornings and there are so many people out on the trails. Everyone has their dogs with them and it just seems like the perfect way to start off the day. It’s probably a good balance for all of the chocolate that I’ve been eating on a regular basis. My cheeks are beginning to resemble a chipmunk so I should probably chill out a little.





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