Taking body measurements without body shaming can seem impossible. But it’s not.
In this post, I’m going to share one of my favorite techniques for finding someone’s body measurements – especially when sizing, measurements and numbers are a sensitive topic.
Please enter this post with caution as we will talk about and around numbers and measurements.
If that’s something you want to avoid or it’s something that can be a trigger – please feel free to skip this post and browse through the archives instead. And/or check out this post on how to stop body shaming yourself using the clothes in your closet here.
If you don’t want to skip, enter with self-kindness and self-compassion. And next time someone (you or someone else) comments, try a buffer phrase.
My favorite technique for taking body measurements without body shaming:
My favorite measurement taking technique is very simple. But effective. I use it for clients who need to send me sizing info when I’m shopping for them. Or when I’m taking their measurements myself and they don’t want to catch a glimpse of the number. Or even for days when I’m feeling a little iffy about taking my own measurements.
Depending on how silly I’m feeling I call this The Measurement Conversion Technique or The Measurement Flip-Flop. It’s simply this: measure yourself in a unit you do not judge yourself in.
If you’re American you’ve probably measured and judged yourself in inches your entire life, so switch to centimeters.
If you’ve measured and judged yourself in centimeters your whole life, try inches.
And if you’re adept at both, switch up the scale – measure in feet or meters or yards. Just choose to measure yourself in a unit you don’t snap judge your body by.
The aim of this trick is to create distance between taking your measurements (in whatever unit you choose) and the snap judgement rabbithole we can so easily tumble down when we quantify our bodies.
If you want your future-self to thank you, keep notes about how you feel, units, conversions, etc in your wardrobe inventory. That way, you don’t have to rediscover the wheel every time. And if you don’t have an inventory of your wardrobe, check out The Wardrobe Inventory Workbook, where I’ll walk you through my favorite four step process.
Please remember! Units of measurement are arbitrary
When we’re trying to find clothes that fit our physical bodies, it is easy to forget just how arbitrary the units of measurements that we use are.
You could choose to measure your body in the archaic unit of “a rope” or a knotted cord. These were literally ropes or cords with knots in them that were used for measuring distance or length. (Fun aside, this is apparently where the nautical unit of “knots” for speed comes from. Speed is distance over time so “we’re going 10 (or 15 or 20) knots” was the number of knots in a rope that unfurled off of a boat over a fixed period of time.)
Or you could go with cubits – the distance from elbow to the tip of your middle finger.
Historically tailors in Western Europe and the US would use strips of paper with notches for taking body measurements. Each “tailor’s tape” would be for a specific person with their name on it and those notches were all the tailor needed – no numbers required. (This is why you’ll also sometimes see soft flexible tape measures, designed for sewing or taking body measurements, called tailor’s tape.)
So choose your measurement unit of choice and take your body measurements that way. Use whatever unit of measure makes you feel your best.
Taking your body measurements without body shaming doesn’t have to be impossible.
Remember this technique works by creating mental space between taking your body measurements and judging your body. Measurements and clothing sizes are both arbitrary – they hold the meaning we give them.
So wear what makes your body feel good.
If you want more on the absurdity of clothing sizes, read” how do you find your clothing size?
And when you’re ready to translate your body measurements into buying clothes that fit, check out: Buying clothes that fit using The Measurement Conversion Technique