The perfect 10. It’s the number that throughout our lives we are told to aspire to, it’s a number that relates to determination, focus and success. As school children we aim to get ten out of ten in our spelling test and as we get older, particularly as women we are under pressure to reach the supposedly “perfect” 10 dress size.
I had a ten out of ten day today with my mum. We went shopping and I was on the lookout for a party dress. After a quick browse around a department store off I went into the changing room armed with an array of size 14 dresses only to find that none of them fitted! Having lost the weight that I have over the last couple of years I was disappointed. My inner voice, the one that is critical, puts me down and tells me I’m not good enough (let’s call her Nora Twatty for now) piped up. Nora whispered that I could do with loosing another stone…..as if the previous 15 I’d lost wasn’t enough.
We left for the next shop and as I was pounding the street the real me kicked in and told Nora where to go. What was I doing? I was allowing a number, a label on a piece of clothing to define my worth.
Next stop was one of my favourite shops, a real treasure trove and independent where you can find a one off without breaking the bank. A dress, THE dress, caught my eye immediately but just as soon as I saw this seasons print, an electric blue and black leopard print on a silky cream background my heart sank as my eyes drifted to the label and saw that the only size left was a 12. Why Charlotte, why are you allowing a number again to define you?! I looked at it and thought there was no way I’d get into it, after all I’m a 14 or a 16 right? Try it on the shop assistant urged and she also brought in other dresses from the same brand but in bigger sizes for me to try. I tried on the 14 first, a safe middle ground and it fitted my bottom half but was too tight on top (unusual for me as my derriere is certainly more Kardashian than Minogue). I tried on the 16 and it swamped my curves. I begrudgingly tried on the 12 and it fitted like a glove and I walked away a happy customer and may I add not just because it was the smaller size. I’d have bought that dress no matter what size because I loved it!
This not so unusual experience demonstrates how sizes across the highstreet and even within the same brand fluctuate so dramatically. It is frustrating but what irritates me more is allowing the numbers sewn into that dress or those jeans to dictate our worth. Our worth as people cannot be determined by the size of our clothes. There is more to us than the number on the scales, the grades on our university transcripts or the value in our bank accounts. We are individuals, there is only one you and that is worth so much in itself.
Yes, I lost a lot of weight but I needed to, I was the ticking time bomb for all obseity related health woes such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The number decreasing on the scales did not give me worth. The fact that my gravitational pull on this earth is now less than it was two years ago does not make me more worthy or a better person. What it did give me though is self-confidence which is a different thing and is something I’m working on improving as the number on the scales or the dress size being less is not a magic wand to wave farewell to Nora . What it gave me is a worth that cannot be quantified and that is health, happiness and opportunities.
You may have gathered that I’m not the perfect 10…..or 12 or 14 or 16 for that matter. What is the perfect 10? You’d probably need to ask some Oxbridge or Ivy League professor to tell you and frankly do you have enough time to digest that?! We do need numbers to help us quantify things in our daily lives but let’s not correlate or determine our worth by a number that relates to the size of our clothing. If I’m lucky enough one day to have a child the only 10 I want them to be smashing is the door of 10 Downing Street.