I’m a size 12 in most places. Boohoo, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, New Look, Topshop, you name it.
But I’ve always avoided H&M because of all the negative things I’ve heard about its sizing.
The general consensus seems to be that H&M is rubbish for sizing. Most things come up too small and you leave the shop feeling pretty crappy about yourself. And so I just deemed it not worth the energy.
That, and the fact that I am a recovered bulimic who still has body dysmorphic tendencies.
What is body dysmorphic disorder?
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others.
It’s not as bad as it used to be – where I would see myself as a completely different size in the mirror – but it can still be triggered.
Just last month, a spokesperson announced that H&M had taken customers’ comments and complaints on board, and were taking steps to change its women’s wear sizing.
But still, things haven’t changed and people are taking to social media to continuously complain.
Recently, blogger Lottie L’amour took to Twitter to express her frustration after a bad shopping experience in H&M.
She’d gone shopping with her girlfriend, and was trying on clothes as a size 24 – however she couldn’t even get into a size 28.
Then her size 16 girlfriend tried on the same item of clothing. She fit into the 28
Lottie later shared an image of H&M’s sizing – which the store states has recently changed, so that the old 6 is now a 4, the old 8 is now a 6 and so on.
After seeing so much frustration online, I decided it was time to experience H&M myself to see what the fuss was all about.
I decided to try on a selection of jeans, in sizes 12 – 20. As mentioned above, I’m a 12.
Here’s what happened.
Firstly, here’s a picture of how H&M sizing works:
Here’s a picture of my size 12 body, in my size 12 Topshop jeans. I’m smaller on top, have thick thighs and a big(ish) bum
First, I tried on a skinny ankle jean in a size 10-12
As you can see, I could barely get them past my knees let alone my thighs.
Next up was a size 14-16
According to H&M, 29″, 30″ and 31″ can fit between a 14 and 16. So, your best bet is getting a load of different sizes and hoping for the best.
Finally, I tried an 18-20
Yes. An 18-20 fit. I’m a size 12. This is a whole 3-4 sizes bigger than I actually am in most stores.
The jeans were a little loose on my knees, but perfectly comfortable on my waist.
I then tried on some regular skinny jeans – this is a size 12
These were a little bit better than the other jeans, I could actually get them up past my thighs. But they weren’t much better.
Next up was the size 14
These actually reached my hips! But there was absolutely no way in hell I was doing them up.
Finally, we have a fit – in a size 16
The size 16 fit perfectly.
As you can see, the sizes were totally different for both pairs of jeans, and fit completely differently. In the first pair, I managed to fit into an 18-20. The second pair that fit was a size 16.
If I didn’t know that H&M sizing was so varied, I’d probably be pretty upset.
It worries me how negatively the store is impacting many young women – especially those with body dysmorphia.
Body dysmorphia makes it hard to see yourself as you are.
What worries me with H&M is not so much the sizing itself – your size doesn’t matter, it’s how you feel in yourself that matters – it’s that the sizing discrepancies could trigger those with body dysmorphia.
Imagine someone finally coming to terms with themselves after suffering with the disorder, finally seeing themselves for the size they are, and then heading into H&M and struggling to fit into anything.
They’d start questioning whether they were actually seeing themselves as smaller than they are – setting off another vicious cycle of insecurity and dangerous eating habits and self perception.
H&M staff are totally aware of what’s happening in the store, and how many people are upset. But they can’t do anything about it.
I spoke to one sales assistant in the store, who told me she rarely buys from H&M despite working there, due to the sizes.
She said that she generally shops in Topshop, where she’s a size 8. However, in H&M she’s a size 14.
She says generally, a H&M size 8 is a TopShop size 4.
The sales assistant, who we aren’t naming to protect her anonymity, also says that she has personally written signs for various sections, because you can never count on true sizing.
Most of the signs warn customers that the sizes come up too small.
She does this to prevent customers trying things on that are only going to upset them.
She also told Metro.co.uk that no size is the same – you could buy a size 12 in three of the same pair of jeans and they’d all come up differently.
What I found incredibly sad is that she also told us that some of the women’s wear is actually smaller than the children’s section. Women are leaving the store upset because something smaller than what a child would wear doesn’t fit.
When asked what H&M is doing to battle this, the sales assistant told me she really didn’t know. She explained that they receive frequent complaints but they’re yet to offer customers a positive shopping experience. The changes they have made haven’t made a difference.
She said: ‘The people higher up don’t have a clue what they’re doing. And I think this is because they don’t actually know what goes on in store. Most of them have never actually worked in a store. They don’t see what’s happening. They don’t see what the customers are saying.’
Metro.co.uk reached out to H&M to ask them exactly why it’s so hard to fit into your usual size when shopping at H&M.
A spokesperson told us: ‘H&M hugely values all customer feedback. It is only ever our intention to design and make clothes that make our customers feel good about themselves, any other outcome is neither intended nor desired.
‘H&M sizes are continually reviewed by our in-house sizing department and this is an on-going internal process.’
When I responded to challenge this, asking why it was that a size 16 woman can fit into a size 28 jean, I didn’t receive a reply.
We also reached out to charity Beat to find out how discrepancies in clothing size can affect people with eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
Beat’s Head of Communications, Rebecca Field said: ‘Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses with multiple causes, including people’s genetic make-up and a range of environmental triggers, so pressure to fit certain size clothes would never be the sole and direct reason for someone developing an eating disorder.
‘However, the idealisation of thinness that is often presented by the fashion industry can be a key factor in exacerbating the illness and preventing recovery.
‘Fashion retailers should recognise and respect the diversity in people’s natural body shapes and sizes.
‘It is important to remember that not everyone who has an eating disorder will be underweight. Eating disorders are mental, not physical illnesses and affect people of all backgrounds and physical shapes.’
The problem with H&M’s sizing seems to be an ongoing thing, and we’re hoping that changing the sizing really is an ‘on-going internal process’.