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Which came first, thin women or tiny sizes?

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Browse through the racks of dresses, skirts, and tops in almost any trendy clothing store in fashion-savvy Argentina, and whether you find something that fits depends on your size. Shops carry small sizes in abundance, but few - if any - options for curvaceous women.

"When you go into a store and find an extra large, you know that it is really the equivalent of a medium or even a small based on European or American standards," says Ivanna Villanucci, a 20-something medical student who has been treated for anorexia. "You feel frustrated because you start to think that everybody is like this, and that you are big. But that's not true."

In this beauty-conscious nation, which has the world's second-highest rate of anorexia (after Japan), many are partially blaming the country's clothing industry for offering only tiny sizes of the latest fashions. The result, say many health experts, is a dangerous paradox of girls and women adapting to the clothes rather than clothes adapting to them.

Prompted by anecdotal evidence and expert testimony, the Argentine legislature is considering whether to force clothing manufacturers to cover "all the anthropometric measurements of the Argentine woman" up to size 54(the equivalent of extra large in the United States).

The bill also addresses the related problem of so-called "tricky" labeling in which S, M, and L designations vary by brand and are smaller than international standards.

Since the sizing information on most clothing is now in English, the bill calls for Spanish-language labels on all clothes as well as mandatory pictograms depicting sizes in centimeters. Manufacturers that fail to adhere to the proposed regulations would face fines and temporary closure.

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