To determine your body shape, you will need to take certain measurements. In part 1, you’ll learn where and how to measure yourself. In part 2, you’ll learn what the measurements mean.
You’ll need: a mirror (full-length or big enough to see your entire torso), a cloth tape measure, a ruler, a ribbon or soft belt to tie around your waist, post-it flags or small, removable stickers, paper, and a writing instrument.
Wear your regular bra and pants. A close fitting leotard or bathing suit may be worn over your underwear. Stand up straight but not stiff. Relax your shoulders by raising them and letting them drop. The dropped position is relaxed.
If you don’t know your height, ask a friend to help you measure. Brush your hair down flat (no ponytails, etc.). Stand up straight against a door jamb or other washable wall. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed, lift your chin, and look straight ahead. Your shoulders, buttocks, or calves should just touch the wall. Have your friend place a ruler lightly across the top of your head as in the image and then make a mark where the ruler touches the wall. Measure from the floor to the mark and write down the measurement.
Shoulders: Have a friend help you measure around your shoulders as in the image. Use a pinky to make sure the tape is not too tight (your pinky should fit between the tape and your body). Write down the measurement.
Bust: Measure around the fullest part of your bust as shown in the image. You should be able to feel the tape brushing the middle to bottom of your shoulder blades in back and just brushing your nipples in front. If your nipples are below the tape, chances are your bra doesn’t fit properly. (More on that another day.) Be careful not to pull the tape tight. Write down the measurement.
Waist: Measure around the narrowest part of the waist. For some women, this is at the navel. For many, it’s well above. Write down the measurement. Then, tie a ribbon around the same narrow part of your waist. Use your pinkie to be certain the ribbon is not too tight. (Or use a belt that fits comfortably. Again, use your pinky to be certain it’s not too tight.)
Hips: Measure down along one side from the ribbon or belt to the widest part of your hips. This is often obvious and will be about nine to thirteen inches below the waist. If in doubt, measure down nine inches and check the circumference of your hips. (Use a post-it flag or other removable sticker to mark the spot.) Then measure down another inch and check again. Keep measuring down until you find the widest part. Remember not to pull the tape tight. Write down the measurement.
Coming soon: Part 2: I is for I Know My Shape (I Think)