Chloe Martin just wanted to get dressed to go out with her friends. When she tried on her jeans — all size 12 — the 18-year-old from Glasgow, Scotland found that some of them fit perfectly while others barely came up over her hips.
This led to her taking a photograph of all of her size 12 jeans laid out together, which she shared on Twitter. Soon, women from around the world who've had the same problem tweeted back that they understood — and the pic has since gone viral.
"Incase you've ever wondered why women get so frustrated with our clothing sizes - every pair of jeans pictured, is a size 12," Martin wrote alongside her photo of seven different pairs of jeans. In the photo, the jeans are all laid out on top of one another and some appear tiny while others look huge. It's a stunning visual reminder of how women are forced to play a guessing game when they go clothes shopping, as retailers use vanity sizing to attract customers.
"I just took the picture because my jeans all fitted differently and I was confused as to why that would be, since they are all the same size," Martin told TODAY. "When I laid them down I was really shocked at the size difference between them all!"
In the end, Martin opted to just wear a dress and tights. It's a fashion conundrum that is familiar to many women.
"I’ve had so many people relate to it and find shopping a real issue," she said. And while Martin says the number on the tag doesn't affect her purchases, she knows that for many women it's a factor when buying new clothes.
"A lot of people wouldn’t buy something say, two sizes bigger than they normally would, even if it fit perfectly, because you could go to another store down the street and get a different pair, two sizes smaller which fit perfectly too. It’s really inconsistent."
Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, says Martin's photo is indicative of a larger problem. "While there may be some inherent sizing differences between styles and manufacturers, I think this is also indicative of the fashion industry’s pervasive and unhealthy attempts to tell women how their bodies should ideally be proportioned," he told TODAY. "The very fact that women feel the need to size down, shows the insecurity around body image that the industry has manifested."
This isn't the first time the pubic has got up in arms about the fashion industry being out of step with reality. One woman called out American Eagle for its inconsistent sizing while another took issue with the company for its shrinking sizes.
In 2017, blogger Mira Hirsch posted side-by-side photos of herself in the same size pants from the same store — one was snug and the other was loose. She encouraged her followers not to define themselves by a number on a tag. Still, another woman felt H&M's sizing was unrealistically small compared to other brands.
Martin says she also finds H&M sizes to be notoriously smaller than at other retailers.
"I can’t shop there, I can never find anything that fits in my size, and even if they did fit at the waist, the thigh sizes on their jeans isn’t good at all!"
She says she hopes that her tweet will inspire a change in women's apparel.
"I would hope that retailers will take a look at their sizing and settle on a set of measurements for each size because it’s really frustrating being a different size in each shop," she said.