Why size may not matter: size 20 woman models size 14 dress

size 20 dress
Michelle Elman says she feels happier as a size 20. Courtesy of Instagram/scarrednotscared

Michelle Elman was initially surprised a size 14 dress she wore three years ago still fit.

Last week, the 23-year-old size 20 blogger posted side-by-side photos of herself wearing the same size 14 dress from two different years. Although her weight differed in the photos, she wanted to make one point clear: numbers don’t mean anything.

“I was going through old photos and I found the photo of me in the same dress [in 2012],” she tells Global News. “I remembered I had just been crying before that photo was taken and found it ironic that people would assume I was happier because I was thinner.”

Her Instagram post, which has now gone viral, shows the body confidence coach based in London, England, wearing the same dress as a size 12 and a size 20.

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NUMBERS DON'T MEAN ANYTHING. I found a dress in my cupboard the other day that I had since I was in sixth form. The dress is a size 14. I bought it 5 years ago when I was a size 12. Now, I'm a size 20. And yet, I still fit it. Which just proves that NUMBERS DON'T MEAN ANYTHING. So are you really going to let a change a dress size dictate your day? Are you really going to let an increase in a number affect your mood? Same dress. Still comfortable. Still beautiful. (In fact, I think I look better and happier now!) A higher dress size doesn't mean: – you are less beautiful – you are less worthy – you are less lovable – you are a worse human – you are a bad person – you are a different person AND it doesn't even mean you have a bigger body. You could go up a dress size by simply changing stores… (or countries). You can change dress sizes because of the time of the day or simply due to whether you are on your period or not. If you look at your cupboard and you find it harder and harder to find something to wear because of a change in clothing size, I have a great solution for you… throw out all clothes that don't fit. Looking at your wardrobe shouldn't be something that makes you feel insecure and sad so make sure everything in your wardrobe fits! Numbers don't matter. Not the number on the back of your jeans, on the scale or even the number in your bank account. You are not a number. #OneTakeBeauty #BodyPositivity EDIT: For anyone saying I'm lying about my size. Check my stories

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“Are you really going to let a change [in] dress size dictate your day? Are you really going to let an increase in a number affect your mood?” she wrote on the social media site.

READ MORE: ‘Mermaid thighs’: The body-positive trend replacing the ‘thigh gap’

“A higher dress size doesn’t mean: you are less beautiful … you are less worthy,” she continued. “AND it doesn’t even mean you have a bigger body. You could go up a dress size by simply changing stores… (or countries). You can change dress sizes because of the time of the day or simply due to whether you are on your period or not.”

The reaction

With over 8,000 likes, Elman adds her Instagram page, in general, is quite positive when it comes to body acceptance.

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“I was expecting a positive response but not such a large one. It was one of the highest responses I had gotten until I posted another photo in response to this one and that had twice as many,” she says.

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Picking up on a few of the comments from yesterday's post. "You look good for a size 20" – This is not a compliment. It's like saying that an older woman looks good "for her age". Who says size 20 women can't look good? Who says older women can't look good? It's ALSO an insult to all my other size 20 babes. When you say I look good for a size 20, it usually means I look skinnier than a size 20 which still sends the message: thin = good, fat = bad. "You are lying, you aren't a size 20" – I am a U.K. Size 20. It is a fact that changes depending on which store but the majority of my clothes are size 20. That is a fact. This assumption that I'm lying is contingent on your perception of what a size 20 looks like. This perpetuates the idea that fat equals ugly or unattractive which is most definitely DOES NOT! "You distorted camera angles + edited it to look skinnier" – It was not a preprepared photo that I planned from 5 years ago so yes different angles but it's the only photo I had in the dress. The photo from 2012 had a filter because another person took that photo. The one from 2017 is not edited/filtered in anyway. These assumptions are based on the fact I have something to hide. NOT HIDING. Right here telling you my dress size. "You aren't even fat. You should stop invalidating the struggles of actual fat women and taking away from the movement" – I don't know what you deem as "actual fat" but both my weight + my dress size indicates I am. I use the word fat because it's not an insult. When you tell me I'm not allowed to use a word that describes me, when I experience the marginalisation of anyone in my size, that invalidates MY experience of being fat-bodied. In terms of taking away from the movement, you'll be hard pushed to find another mixed-race, not able-bodied, fat scarred woman talking about chronic illness and chronic pain and THAT representation matters. In summary, if people tell you they are a certain size, believe them. They are the ones picking out their clothes! You can be the same dress size + look bigger/smaller as shown in the two photos above! Whatever your size, you look good for your size 😉 #scarrednotscared #onetakebeauty

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The second photo, which she posted two days later, includes two photos of herself flaunting her current size. The post also included some of the comments she received on her first set of photos, one of them including, “you look good for a size 20.”

READ MORE: Plus-size model Tess Holliday leads body-positive movement

“I wanted to do a follow-up post because telling me that, ‘I didn’t look like a size 20,’ isn’t a compliment. Looking thinner isn’t my life goal or the purpose of any of my posts, I am happy with my body as a size 20.”

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Learning how to love your body

However, Elman says when she was younger, she did believe being a smaller dress size equalled happiness.

WATCH: University gym gets rid of its scales
University gym gets rid of its scales
University gym gets rid of its scales

“I also believed that dress size correlated to beauty, which it really doesn’t,” she says.

Numbers shouldn’t matter

There have been countless examples of how inconsistent sizes can be when you go from store to store, Bustle reports, and in the industry, there are almost no regulations for sizing.

And for the most part, the site notes, a majority of apparel is made overseas and large brands don’t design clothes in house.

READ MORE: ‘Throw away the scale’ to improve mental health: study

Writer Nada Farhoud, who did her own experiment on sizing for the Mirror in March, found most major U.K. brands were not consistent when it came to sizes for tops, dresses and pants. In fact, she was able to fit both a size eight and a size 14.

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When I found body positivity, I couldn't find me. Where was the girl with the scars? Scars are something you don't think about unless you have them. Scars are something that aren't discussed, especially when you do have them. Everyone in body positivity was talking about weight and so the only marks they discussed were weight related ones – stretch marks but HOW ABOUT SCARS?! This is why I started Scarred Not Scared. Instead of complaining about a community that was meant to be inclusive, I created a space for it. Instead of feeling left out, I forced myself in. Instead of saying "what about me?", I started saying "why not me?". Instead of feeling snubbed and ignored, I introduced myself, said hi and made friends with people who I can now call life-long friends. When I launched my campaign in 2013, I still hesitated when I called myself Scarred. The important thing is that I said it though, even if my voice wobbled while doing so. I made my first video about it, even though I didn't know all the answers and within a year, talking about scars became normal to me. Scarred Not Scared is my passion project, my pride and joy. Mindset For Life was my coaching business, my career, my job. You don't have a mindset for life, you evolve, you shift, you grow. Back in 2013, I didn't realise how much of my trauma I hadn't yet released. Now I have and now I must evolve. To mark the occasion, I'm changing my username. I'm still ME, I'm still Michelle Elman but now, I'm @scarrednotscared And I can't think of a better way to mark today than to be in that very same bikini that started it all, using the body I love to go swimming with one of the people in my life that I love most. See you tomorrow, for now, I'm off swimming with my bestie 😘 #SCARREDNOTSCARED

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Elman adds, at the end of the day it’s important to be comfortable in the skin you’re in.

“Numbers are meant to be seen as objective, but they aren’t … I learn[ed] that you can’t quantify living, breathing humans into numbers. It just doesn’t work that way.”
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