Significant Other disparages I post so infrequently but it’s difficult for me to read my words through the spittle of an extended screed. Case in point, One Size Fits Nobody: Seeking a Steady 4 or a 10 courtesy of the New York Times which is but more pablum. I spent some time amusing myself, imagining how the conversation of assigning that story went down:
Editor: It’s been awhile since we’ve appeased the masses by skewering those stupid apparel industry people by writing about consumer’s favorite imaginary social ill -vanity sizing. Hey you, Stephanie, you could churn out an easy 1,000 words on it. You don’t have to do any heavy lifting, apparel people are stupid.
Stephanie: Sure thing. I have some great source material; like this chick who isn’t even in the industry but who looked at some Vogue magazines to develop an analysis of women’s sizing history to beef up my points. The apparel industry is so stupid that the circular logic and cursory “evidence” of her “research” that would get anyone in any other field of intellectual rigor laughed out of the room will fly right over their heads. Done well, I might be able to blame vanity sizing for everything from teenage pregnancy to the bombing of Dresden and on to the scourge of plastic cutlery! To be sure there is other research from someone with 30 years of experience making patterns and is an internationally renown authority on women’s clothing sizes who has been quoted by NPR, NY Times, WSJ, Forbes, Washington Post, Boston Globe, LA Times etc and whose site ranks much higher but her material is based on *math* -and of all things, she majored in economics- with a whole annoying slew of logic, charts and graphs that spans 16 entries and something on the order of 200,000 words! Sheesh, just her section on the history of women’s sizing is three separate entries and backed by data that I don’t want to read for a “business” cum fluff lifestyle piece like this.
Say, I could bring back that old stand by Cricket Lee. You know, the woman who ran through nearly five million in start up capital and then had the nerve to patent the shape of women’s bodies and try to license it? I wonder if I could work in a disparaging mention of how the industry ignored Cynthia Istook. She upped the ante to 11 body types but the industry was also too cheap to license her findings either. I mean, the industry in spite of spending millions of dollars on research and prototyping full time with formidable experts and resources at their disposal couldn’t possibly be aware of the problems discovered by an academic working on it part time, saddled with competing job duties of writing and teaching classes. Maybe I can shame them into it. We still have problems so the industry couldn’t possibly be doing anything or know more than the readily accessible experts who are fond of sending out press releases to support their financial agendas that we know of.
If I play it well, I could hint that manufacturers just don’t care about their customers -eek!- but then I couldn’t also say they vanity size because if they go to the effort of manipulating people, it would mean they do care meaning this is cognitive dissonance -holding two competing thoughts in mind at the same time. Hmm. Maybe I could mention manufacturers just like for people to look ridiculous and feel badly about themselves. No, scratch that, more cognitive dissonance, it would mean icky looking customers would devalue their brand. Hey, the whole money grubber thing plays well. Manufacturers just want to make money… but then, if they don’t hit sizing well, they don’t make money so that won’t be a logical argument either.
I know, I’ll side step all the logical arguments that invalidate my premise by getting consumers to clamor for the latest fit savior in a long line of saviors, one called My Best Fit. They only have one location in a mall but I can make it sound like they’re the greatest thing going. You know, help them find the backing to install those other 16 scanners the owner has all but said they have. No need to mention all of those other companies, even ones like Levi’s, who plowed millions into doing it and failed because the concept while interesting, is flawed because revenue can’t support the model.
Editor: Okay, it sounds great! We just want to be sure we don’t get any pesky fact checkers like they have in the NY Mag section because they might do something like question whether vanity sizing even exists! You know, like search google for vanitysizing.com or something like that. That would totally ruin pandering to the masses when we can continue to flog the stupid apparel producers for normalizing sizing to the mean or asking whether sizing problems are related to other things like natural changes, demography (and), epidemic obesity or a variety problem, responding to customer’s demands for still lower prices or dramatically inflating inventory beyond the financial means of producers -or even consumers.
Like I said, imagining that conversation, it’s probably better that I pass on commenting entirely.