Shopping is hard. Sizing is different at every store, and you never really know exactly how something fits until you go into the dressing room and try it on yourself. But, despite these common issues, there’s no reason you should go up three sizes just to fit into a dress that may or may not be in stock. (We wish we were kidding.) Apparently, the Internet agrees, which is why one woman’s complaint against H&M’s “ridiculous” sizing is going viral. (Disclaimer: This is not your typical Yelp review.)
The debate over unreliable sizing at H&M (and at pretty much most of the mall staples these days) hit a new low when 22-year-old Lowri Byrne walked into an H&M in Plymouth, England to do some shopping. She picked up an off-the-shoulder babydoll dress in her regular size 12 and headed to the dressing room. Realizing that a size 12 in the dress was probably too small for her, she went up a size—and then another—and another.
Byrne eventually tried on a size 16 (two higher than her regular size), and even then, she had trouble fitting into the dress—as seen in the pictures, which showed the piece of clothing’s stretched-out seams. When she asked an H&M employee if she could go yet another size up, the sales associate told her that a size 18 was out of stock—which is when Bryne took to Facebook with a scathing complaint for the popular clothing company.
In her complaint, Byrne not only slammed the Sweden-based retail company for its “ridiculous” sizing, but she also called out the store for the emotional distress it could cause to customers who are unsure about their true size.
“Please sort your sizes out because this is absolutely ridiculous!” Byrne told H&M in her Facebook post. “The dress I have on in these photos is a size 16, and I could barely breathe. Not only was this annoying because I wanted to buy this dress, but so many women take what size dress they buy to heart. If I was one of these girls (thankfully I’m not) requesting a size 18 dress would seriously devastate me!”
But Bryne wasn’t the only one who’s had trouble with H&M. Her post, which reached more than 3,000 likes and 300 shares, was flooded with comments from likeminded H&M customers who also slammed the store’s sizing.
“I’m not joking when I say that a size 12 dress I bought from H&M fits my 5-year-old daughter! Doesn’t fit me of course,” one woman wrote. (A UK size 12 is supposed to be equivalent to a US 8.)
“I know exactly what you mean—tried on two pairs of size 12 shorts today in H&M—one I could get on without unbuttoning them and the other wouldn’t fasten! It’s crazy!” another commented.
In response to the criticism, H&M defended that it is a “global” brand and therefore its sizing will vary between “different markets.”
“H&M’s sizes are global and the sizes offered in the U.K. are the same in all the 66 markets in which we operate in and online. As there is no global mandatory sizing standard, sizes will differ between brands and different markets,” H&M said in a statement.
H&M isn’t the only retail store to face backlash for unreliable sizing, either. In May, Riley Bodley, a woman from Iowa, slammed American Eagle for its drastic fluctuation in sizes. In a Facebook post, Bodley shared a photo of two pairs of identical jeans in different “sizes:” a size zero bought five years ago and a size four purchased a few months prior. After comparing the two, she came to the conclusion that they were the exact same size. (And judging from the picture, we have to agree.)
“This made me wonder, how small has a size 0 actually gotten?” Bodley wrote on Facebook. “The media makes young girls feel the smaller the number they wear, the more beautiful they are, and this is certainly NOT true. I post this as a reminder that size is literally just a number and does not define you. Find clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident, and know your beauty is not defined by the size you wear.”
These complaints aren’t isolated incidents, either. Judging from how many comments Bodley and Byrne received agreeing with their statements, unreliable sizing is a widespread issue across many clothing stores, which seem to be sizing their clothes smaller and smaller as their “larger” sizes mysteriously go out of stock. So, next time you can’t fit into a pair of jeans at the mall, don’t get discouraged—it’s probably not your fault.