Pi Attitude Zone: Self-Fulfilment

Miss Piggy’s Tape-Measure

Me?  Putting on weight?  What do you mean, I’ve been putting on weight?  I’m the same dress size as when Tom and I got married 37 years ago. Though funny you should mention it, I tried to get into my wedding dress the other day, just for a laugh, and it didn’t seem to fit for some reason…”

Ahem.  Sorry, madam, but Pi knows the reason.  And you’re not going to like this.

You know about inflation, and how it affects prices?  Well, there’s also a thing called Size Inflation, and it works in pretty much the same way.  Has done, in fact, for decades.

The Economist looked into the clothing industry recently, and came up with a shocking fact.  “Clothes of any particular labeled size”, the magazine  announced, “have steadily expanded over time”.  A pair of women’s jeans tagged Size 14 in present-day Britain is more than four inches wider in the waist than a Size 14 was back in the 1970s.  The hip measurement has expanded by three inches.  What we now call a 14 would have been a Size 18 forty years ago. 

The trend has been the same in America and elsewhere.  Inflating size labels?  Surely some mistake!  What has been going on?

The simple answer is that clothing manufacturers have steadily, deliberately and systematically increased the size of women’s garments of a nominal ‘size’ to reflect the average female body’s expansion over time.  Three-fourths of American adults and three-fifths of their British cousins are now overweight.  Beyond bigger appetites and more sedentary lifestyles, expanding waistlines are due partly to another phenomenon, portion-inflation in food products.

Wearing apparel companies didn’t want their lady customers getting depressed about this, so years ago they started telling little white lies about the true size of the clothes they were selling. They reasoned that if people feel good about themselves (“Look, I can still get into a Size[whatever]!”), they would be more likely to buy.  Tell the ladies they have gone up two dress sizes, and they’d likely flee the store in horror.

So, in a world where size matters, what matters most about size is… um… how it makes us feel?  The Muppet Show’s Miss Piggy had an answer to the irksome promptings of conscience: the Elastic Measuring Tape’, a wonderful innovation  whereby your perceptual weight problem simply goes away.  Better than dieting, surely…?

Pi can see the shape of things to come:  elastic…

Zone: Self-Fulfilment Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Consumer Products