The size 0 question - are British shops right to stock such small sizes?

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The infamous American size zero hit the headlines in the early noughties with mannequins, models and clothes shops appearing to promote the smallest dress size available to women and Britain’s high street still hasn’t escaped the trend.

A number of mainstream high street chains stock the size in the UK (UK size 4), so should size 0 be available in UK clothes stores, or is its very availability a negative influence on vulnerable consumers?

One reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted us after noticing Primark were stocking size 4.

She told us: “I used to have an eating disorder and seeing size zero in shops makes people think it is a normal size and want to get to that size.”

The concerned reader added, “A few years ago Primark didn’t even sell size 6. So what’s happening to society?”

Aware of the sensitivities

Primark say they offer a range of sizes to cater for different customers.

A Primark spokesperson said, “Primark is very aware of the sensitivities involved in the sizing of women’s wear. The company offers great fashion in a wide range of sizes across the UK, from petite to large, starting from a UK size 4, and believes that the customer should have as much choice as possible.”

Sends the wrong message

It’s not just Primark stocking smaller sizes however as Topshop and Miss Selfridge are also among the brands to stock size 4.

In contrast, H&M, River Island and New Look start their ranges at size 6 (UK).

Eating disorder charity, SEED Eating Disorder Support Services, believe the availability of size 4 on the high street isn’t benefiting the confidence of young people.

“Stocking size 4 clothes is sending out the wrong message to people,” says Marg Oaten MBE, secretary and co-founder of SEED Eating Disorder Support Services.

Marg adds: “I think it encourages people to strive for the often impossible when it comes to clothes shopping – if someone is unable to wear size 4 clothing this may also cause that person to experience a sense of personal failure.

“If someone is a ‘natural’ size 4 then fine but honestly those people are few and far between,” she says.

“Society generates the sense of what is ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ – whether a person is size 4 or 20 they need to feel happy with the skin they are in.”