Why and What of Vanity Sizing and Metrics

Many years and houses ago – there was an odd looking dog living near us. She was a cross between a basset hound and a shepherd. Her name was Katie. She had short shepherd legs and a broad shouldered basset body; basset ears framed a shepherd muzzle. She was social like a basset and she seemed to have inherited the less than average intelligence of that breed too.

But we soon learned that Katie only understood Chinese. Once we adapted to that, we realized that Katie was actually quite bright. Katie’s short legs, long body and broad shoulders would have caused her no end of grief if she had been a human and had to buy ready made clothing. I know that, because I am a Katie.

My body measurements would be reason enough to hate shopping for clothes, but even more despicable is the world of This Size Fits Nobody and  Vanity Sizing. Presumably on purpose, some manufacturers have changed the cut of their garments so that a women who wore a certain size of garment in high school, can still wear that size years later, even though she has put on 20 pounds and her hourglass figure is now more like a pear or an apple.

Other manufacturers, however, tell it like it is. This means the average grandma like me will visit every women’s clothing store at four malls and will eventually find two pair of pants, one pair of shorts and three shirts – that more or less fit – and they will be either a S or M or L or 10 or 12 or 14. Then she will alter eveything, because no one makes clothing for Katie bodies, and it is too late to hire someone to make these things fit by Monday.

The short and the short of it (there is no long in my short world) is that most of the numbers that were once my touchstones, really aren’t all that relevant anymore.  My age, my height, even my weight, have become nonessential numbers in my life… okay, weight might be an essential number, but only if I truly want to do something to change it. If I don’t, then there is no point obsessing about it.

On the internet, social media thrives on vanity. Facebook and Twitter, just to name two, offer users the opportunity to gather friends, likes and or followers. These numbers, though they might look impressive, could be meaningless statistics, which is why they are called Vanity Metrics . This was a phrase coined by author Eric Ries and it refers to measurements that look good, but don’t actually indicate how successful something or someone is.

Here in the WordPress Blogging World, we have a Vanity Metric called ‘Followers’. This number should indicate how many people read our blog in the WordPress RSS feed reader. What it actually  means is how many people read our feed plus how many people don’t read our feed, but hope that by clicking the ‘follow’ button, we will reciprocate – thus boosting their Vanity Metric.

I have  been descended upon by a hoard of Fake Followers. These are people or bots that hope I will click the link to their blog and either buy their product or (and this is the mysterious part) click their link and find an empty blog.  Here are a couple of the more recent ones: Capture I don’t look at my followers list anymore – it is that useless. There might be some legitimate followers in there, but I really don’t have the time to try to find them. For the sake of full disclosure, I now have 956 followers –  and my best guess is that the vast majority of them are not actually readers.

If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behavior. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value.
– Douglas W. Hubbard –

Now it is your turn – do you have a Vanity Number that makes you feel good, even though it might be just a tad unrealistic?

17 thoughts on “Why and What of Vanity Sizing and Metrics

  1. Number of any kind don’t mean a thing to me these days. I’m with you regarding clothes and that’s what ticks me off the most. I might as well try buying clothes on Mars where I don’t understand the language or sizes either. They have more weird shapes up there, right? 😀 😀


    1. Yes, It is frustrating to buy clothes.
      Did you know there is a size 0? I think it is called the anorexia size.


  2. If you wear a size ‘zero’, do you even exist? I wore a 10 in high school, a 12 after my boys were born, a 14 in later years (I’m now back in a 12 – which makes me quite happy); these sizes ‘equate’ to a M or L in some lines, an S in others, an XL in a few. Sizes make absolutely NO SENSE whatsoever. You have to try things on and hope you find SOMETHING that fits! It’s a total crapshoot. As for other numbers, I try to just ignore them (I, too, have +500 followers and at least 2/3 of them are what I refer to as ‘auto followers’ – people/sites who hired some questionnable firm to deliver ‘followers’ to their site by subscribing to others – WHY?!?!?!?!?)


  3. Why bother with sizes….it’s different brand to brand anyway! As for the followers on here that are actually marketers, yes, I’m becoming aware of those myself and I only just got here! Very frustrating.


  4. I’m with Margo…from a size 8, up forty pounds and a couple sizes, but now magically back to a size 6 but still 20 lbs. heavier than where I began. Huh??? It makes absolutely no sense at all. As for all those new people ‘following’ me, I was amazed to see all of them pop up recently when I haven’t posted on my blog in ages. Maybe if I start posting more regularly, they’ll go away.


  5. When you try on vintage clothes – anything older than 30 years – it really hits about the vanity sizing. We are just bigger people than we used to be, and we (especially me) don’t want to admit it!

    And I know what you mean about the fake readers. I’m getting lots more spam comments than I have had in years.


    1. Vintage clothes – some of them are still in my closet. I keep thinking I might be able to wear some of them again, but the chances become slimmer as I become less slimmer.


  6. Ok…I admit I do have 2 vanity numbers that I like….my weight and my clothes size..which is quite good for my age.

    But no, I don’t care about my blog followers. In fact I would like to unfollow about 30% of them. Who are these creeps?


  7. This was a wonderful post, Margie– a lotta truth tellin’ what needed to be told!– well done!!

    I’ve never really gotten the hang of clothes sizes– now I’m thinking it’s just as well!

    Re Vanity Numbers (a great term, BTW, which I hadn’t heard before): every so often, one of my blog posts will manage to top 30 Likes. In the great highly questionable scheme of things, that’s a very modest number– but it’s high for me, which pushes it over the Vanity threshold! : )


    1. Mens clothes sizes seem much more stable. My husband often buys pants or a shirt and he doesn’t even bother to try them on before buying them!
      30 likes is a wonderful vanity number. I’d be very pleased too if I got that many likes!


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