Stretched on the rack by retailers' numbers game

08 July 2018 - 00:00 By NICHOLA LOOCK

If you've never cried in a fitting room, you're a stronger person than I am.
Nothing humbles you more than being unable to zip up jeans that are supposed to be your size.
I have taught myself to ignore the number on the scale, knowing it doesn't accurately reflect my health, but it is harder to ignore a pair of size 14 pants that won't move beyond my thighs.
This week I went to several clothing stores at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and tried on similar types of pants to see how far they deviated.
I entered H&M knowing I was size 12 and that high-waisted pants looked good on me. I left doubting both of those things.
According to H&M, size 12 in South Africa is equivalent to a European size 38. To be on the safe side, I took sizes 36, 38 and 40 into the changing room, and was surprised to find that the smallest fit me.
Then I tried the others ... and they fit me exactly the same. Even the amount of fat that bulged over the waistband was identical.
Maybe Mr Price would be less confusing. As a South African brand, its sizes would make more sense, I thought, and so I started with a 12 again and found the fit a bit loose around my legs.
My ego persuaded me to try a smaller size, and although it was a bit tight, I was determined it would stretch after a while. Maybe I just wanted to be able to say I owned size 10 pants.
Cotton On, where the sales assistant assured me South African sizes were the same as Australian ones, quickly put paid to that dream.
Size 10s got stuck at the thigh, and there was no way I was going to close the button on the size 12s.
I could say the size 14s fit me, but fear of the dreaded muffin top would stop me ever wearing them.
Somehow I had gone up at least three sizes in the past half-hour.
My favourite experience was in Woolworths, where size 12 jodhpurs-inspired leggings fit like a glove.
If only I had gone there first.
My emotionally draining morning left me feeling insecure, frustrated, and certain of three things: no one knows how to convert European sizes into South African sizes; my pants size is somewhere between 10 and 16; and a tiny number on a label holds way too much power over me.
Finally! A superhero who doesn't have sticks for legs and a chihuahua waist is going to hit the big screen in the Sony live-action film of Faith Herbert, the plus-size superhero from the Valiant comics. Online queen of sarcasm Jezebel writes: "Frankly, I am developing superhero fatigue ... But I would make an exception for a movie about Faith Herbert"

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.