Robin Givhan wrote a piece in yesterday's Washington Post about Cindy McCain's photo spread in Vogue. (Note that you might need to register in order to view the article. It's free). Noted by Ms. Givhan is the fact that as noted by Vogue, Mrs. McCain was wearing jeans, size zero.
It's not really enough anymore to describe someone as "slim", "slender", or even "skinny". It needs to be more quantitative than that, and just like in golf, the lowest score wins. As Stanley Tucci's Nigel declared in "The Devil Wears Prada" (an example of the rare occurence in which a movie is far superior to the so-called book which inspired it), "six is the new fourteen". If you really want to aspire to alpha-girl status, you'd better be no larger than a four, and "zero" is the pinnacle. Or the nadir. Whatever. Counting backwards is confusing me.
Size zero is a relatively new phenomenon, I think. I don't remember seeing size zero in a store until very recently. The existence of zero as a clothing size makes sense, in a peculiar way. If we're competing for the low score, attempting to demonstrate numerically that we take up less physical space than other women, zero would be the ultimate; zero means you no longer even exist. But as enc points out in her post today at Observationmode, what do the numbers really mean when designers are "vanity sizing" to make us all feel tinier? Perhaps I'll be wearing a zero in two years. Currently, I wear an eight or a ten in most clothes (eight being the new twenty-two), but when zero becomes the new fourteen, negative 12 will be the new number to aspire to. Or to descend to. Again with the backwards counting. I'm very easily confused.
Here's where I'm glad I'm blogging, and not writing professionally, because I really don't have a point to make with this and I don't have time today to really think it through. This is about something different than "body image" and eating disorders and all of that. I don't have a problem with women who wear size zero (and in fact, I hate it when people complain that thin women need to "eat a sandwich", because I don't get how that's less snide or mean than telling a heavy woman to lay off the cookies). Maybe that's my point. Everything is fair game now. A person's body should be sacred, off-limits to unsolicited comments and criticism. Magazines and red carpet shows, and people on the street, no longer confine their critical analysis of other people's appearance to a bad haircut or the wrong shoes. It's no less than your actual self that's subject to intense scrutiny, and you probably don't measure up. Or down. Maybe the Duchess of Windsor was right, and one can't be too thin. Size zero means you need to just disappear.