XXXXL and the Beauty-Conscious Nation

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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I am not your typically girl in the sense that I am not much of a spender, much more of a saver. I have been like this all of my life, my sister got all the shopping genes in the family. I consider myself much more of an accessory person...jewlery, purses, and perfume. Shopping for pleasure and spending hours in a mall just browising around has never been appealing to me, unless buying gifts for friends.  I shop much more like your stereotypical man--I either over-rationalize everything and end up buying nothing, or I save up all my money, go to the mall and blow all my money at one time.

Mimi, I know you have been working on me and I will always appreciate your sisterly fashion advice, but I think my general lack of interest in shopping stems from my extreme short attention span, and my complete lack of patience. But honestly, what would I do without my personal shopper! :)

Everywhere I go in Argentina you are surrounded by fashion. Walking to class on Sante Fe Av. I am surrounded by clothing stores, purse stores, and accesory stores. I am always reminded of my sister and how much fun we would have together walking on Sante Fe and looking at all the clothes and accessories. It would be a true paradise for my sister. Shirt sizes typically come in 1, 2, 3, or "one size fits all". 1 = "small", 2 = "medium", and 3 = "large". Very rarely will you find any sizes above that. I had an experience with the one-size-fits all when I asked for a particular shirt in a larger size and the woman replied that the entire store was "one size fits all"--basically squeeze into the best you can(--or lose weight.)

I knew before hand that their clothes were small, and that Argentine women were probably not my size, or my height. I have a difficulty as it is finding conservative, comfortable, and fitting clothes in the U.S., and I was warned ahead of time that their sizes run small. I walked into a few female clothing stores and simply by looking at the clothes on the rack knew that I would not be able to sqeeze in. The shirts look like something I would have worn when I was 10 years old! Without any exxageration a large in Argentina is comparable to a small in the U.S., and large pants are equivalent to probably a size 2 in the U.S. I have never in my life been a size two, even at my skinniest phase!

I was planning on trying some clothes to bring back as gifts for my sister. I planned on finding stuff that was very tight on me as I knew it would fit her. I could not, however, get myself to try the clothes on because I did not want to force myself into depression!

"Don't Starve for me Argentina":

In the van recently many of us were talking about the clothes in Argentina, Mrs. Marolyn Bowman (Professor Bowmans wife) told us that recently ordinances were put in place for clothes manufacturers to make larger clothes due to high rates of eating disorders. When she told me this I was not surprised at all, and that was the reason after trying on a few shirts that I told myself that I would not try anymore clothes on. The psychological nature of this did interest me and I did a little more digging:

From article "Which came first, thin women or tiny sizes?" by Kelly Hearn (see:

"...'"When you go into a store and find an extra large, you know that it is really the equivalent of a medium or even a small based on European or American standards," says Ivanna Villanucci, a 20-something medical student who has been treated for anorexia. "You feel frustrated because you start to think that everybody is like this, and that you are big. But that's not true.'"

“...Logically, I shouldn’t have found sizes for me in adult stores, but I had no problem,” said Paula Giraut, a 22-year-old student in treatment for anorexia who dropped to 88 lbs.“Logically, I shouldn’t have found sizes for me in adult stores, but I had no problem,” said Paula Giraut, a 22-year-old student in treatment for anorexia who dropped to 88 lbs."

Honestly I tried on a total of two shirts the whole time I have been here, and refuse to try on anything else. It is for this reason precisely--I started contemplating the fact that I must just be HUGE. I have made myself a promise not to try on anymore clothes (plus from an economical standpoint... I save money!)

"...In this beauty-conscious nation, which has the world's second-highest rate of anorexia (after Japan), many are partially blaming hte country's clothing industry for offering only tiny sizes of the latest fashions. The reslut, say many health experts, is a dangerous paradox of girls and women adapting to the clothes rather than clothes adapting to them..."

I found it intersting that Selina, a local Argentine, who would probably be a size 4-6 in the U.S., but a curvy young lady with hips (not fat by any means), has to special order her clothes because she cannot fit into pants!

The bill that Mrs. Bowman was talking about hit the news in 2005. The bill addressed issues such as the ubiquitous sizes --"one-size-fits all", and the "S,M,L" which varied drastically from brand to brand, and are smaller than inernational brands. It was proposed that this is what causes so many eating disorders, and with more regulated and specific sizes (spanish sizes 38-48) they could combat these issues. From my brief research, 1 in 10 young adolescent females suffer from an eating disorder, and from simple observation I would say that this number increases with age. Even 50 year old women here are size 0s.

"Argentina has the world's highest rates of aesthetic surgery," says Mabel Bello, psychiatrist and founder of ALUBA, the Association for the Fight Against Anorexia and Bulimia. "When you are talking about how preoccupied with beauty our society is, that is the most telling statistic."

When I went to Lebanon years ago I noticed the women's preoccupation with looking the best that they could look--from expensive clothes, jewlery, makeup, hair products, and of course cosmetic surgery. I saw some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in Lebanon (probably becasue most of it was artificial). I never thought there was another place in the world where women were so image conscious...that is until Argentina.

Although there is a large problem with eating disorders amongst women, I feel that the clothing situaiton is very similar for men as it is women, however to a much lesser extent. A few of the guys on the trip bought nice lacoste imposter shirts, and one of the guys got a size 3 (large), and didnt try it on till he got back to the resedencia to find out that it was a muscle shirt. I find it interesting that in the United States it seems that men always want to be bigger, because it is more "macho", but there is no such preoccupation in Argentina.

Anyway as advice to any female out there that wants to travel to Argentina: if you are not a size 2 or below I would recommend not trying on clothes, unless you want to get extremly image conscious and depressed very fast.

Purdy says:
Extremely interesting - l cant believe these woman are so tiny. Heather
Posted on: Jun 18, 2006
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