Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sizeism goes large

Weight is the new black. A new week, a new article about weight either too high or too low. It would seem paradoxical that there's a boom in size 0 clothes occurring at the same time as shrill newspaper headlines trumpet a possible reversal in life expectancy due to excess weight. Are we really becoming a nation of extremes? F&M weighs in on the debate [groan].

Well, not really. You see, this article misses the point. A UK size 4 (a size 0) isn't really freakily thin. This isn't anything to do with emulating supermodels or anorexia. It's really a result of size inflation. My mothers size 12 clothes from 1960/1970 don't fit me and I'm a UK size 6 in 'smart' women's fashions. And this ain't because they've shrunk in the wash... I'm now unable to buy classically styled work clothes on the high street. This has happened in the last 4 years - my M&S size 10 jeans from 4 years ago are tight but size 8 in M&S and Wallis now dwarf me and they don't stock a size 6. I'm a size 8/10 in Topshop or Miss Selfridge but these clothes tend to be styled for younger girls and teens who are probably their main clientele due to price. The styles don't suit me since I'm also pretty curvy despite being slender. So it's entirely possible for a healthy, slimmer hipped, smaller chested woman to come out as a Top Shop size 0 or 00.

In short (or should it be, 'in narrow'), as women on average get larger, the women who have remained a 'normal' size are getting a really bum deal (and chest deal and especially waist deal - don't clothing manufacturers realise that women go in and out). Not only are they increasingly finding it difficult to buy clothes that fit, but they're also subjected to rising acceptability of personal remarks about their weight. It's not just fat people who are having a problem here. I have had people who had never met me before ask me questions about my diet, remark on the circumference of my wrists and even enquire whether I have an eating disorder. Since when was that anything but blatantly rude?

So the size 00 hysteria isn't the new black. It's a bit like leggings - a lot of hype about something with no bulk.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nuclear power: an expert opinion

An informed post by Auberius on nuclear power. I was going to blog about nuclear power when I had the time to pull some stats but Auberius is an expert and tackles this subject far better than I could.

Anyway, I've found a better target. Longer-term job seek permitting, I'm intending to tackle the eminent David Duff since on climate change...

Quote of the day

From John Cole, mocking Republicans' response to the Mark Foley sex scandal

If the terrorists kill your kids, who cares if GOP congressmen are diddling them?

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Liberal and blogging

A big welcome to Auberius and Liberal Gothic.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The new romanticism

The Times has a book plug headlined with 'a leading scientist has warned that opposition to nuclear power by environmental campaigners is irrational as well as dangerously misguided'.

I'm not going to write any arguments about nuclear power specifically, but about a lifestyle trend amongst the mediaratsi (which probably means it'll be on everyone's radar eventually - aspiration and all that) which encompasses organic food, new ageiness and endless articles about fleeing to quiet parishes and living in eco communes (near the bottom).

I am a very keen environmentalist but realise that food produced using 'traditional' farming methods, living in the countryside or choosing to live without electricity is a wealthy person's dream. It's like Marie Antoinette playing being a shepherdess.

If we want to feed the world, we can't feed them organically-reared, GM-free, bacon dry-cured using 17th century techniques. Productivity just isn't high enough to feed the current world population. We need to either reduce the world population or produce more food. Both of these need technological solutions. Farmers using manual labour have lots of children - they need to be able to leave the land, be educated and have access to working contraception (not least to tackle the tragedy of HIV). And we need to devise techniques for tackling insect attack and crop failure whilst increasing yield that don't produce resistant/dangerous cross-bred species or pollute water courses.

There is a reason why we chose to develop modern medicine. Life expectancy was low, women died in childbirth and infant mortality was high. Yes, we should try to limit side effects, eschew medical intervention unless necessary and be open to alternative medicine where there is evidence to suggest it works. But no crystal-waving please. Likewise, in order to reduce both unnecessary flights and land travel we need to encourage people to live in high density housing in cities, close to good public transport. We also need to improve computing technology to the point where business people feel they can have as useful a meeting by remote as they can by flying. So writing:

has just got his first computer, though I try and limit his time on it

Is probably barking up the wrong carbon-neutral tree. Computing and urban life is not the enemy. And old-fashioned rural life was not romantic, authentic and fulfilling. It was nasty, brutish, narrow-minded and short. That's why it's 'old fashioned'.

So, media-people, can we have rather more about green lifestyles long-term achievable by all the 60 + million people in the UK and, more generally, the world? And rather less about wealthy Londoners embracing their inner tree hugger? If we want to save the world - we need the former, not the latter. Because if you rolled it out nationally and internationally, much of the latter would do about as much for long-term sustainability as a humvee.