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February 8, 2006

Clothing Size Does Matter

The other day I read in the Star Tribune that “The French fashion industry found that the average French woman today is just over 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 137.6 pounds. In comparison, the average American woman is 5 feet 4 and weights 164.3 pounds.�

I seem to recall reading a long time ago that at the end of the 19th century, the average American woman was 5 feet 4 and weighed 136 pounds.

So what happened, ladies?

We are not a large family but certainly close to average. I stand at 5 foot 4, Brian at 5 foot 8 and Graham has yet to reach four feet at nearly six years of age. My weight falls below the French average and Graham has consistently been at the 40th percentile all his life. When Brian was training for triathlons, his weight was comparable to mine.

He and I have observed some disturbing trends when we shop for clothes. During certain trips to menswear stores filled with sizes reaching proportions of XXXXL, Brian has not been able to find a single item in the size “Small.� None. Nada. Zilch.

This winter, he was in the market for a new wool topcoat and found one he liked at Jos. A Banks. Of the nearly 300-stores nationwide, only two of the topcoats were in the size 38 that Brian required. Luckily, one of the coats was tracked down and shipped to Brian.

Women’s clothing designers have taken a different tack. To boost the egos of the women purchasing their clothes, the designer have shifted the sizing scale so that previously larger sizes are now marked as smaller. So a size 10 five years ago is now an 8.

While quality designers have always been generous with clothing sizes, is it really necessary to have a size 0? Is the woman wearing it actually two dimensional, like a piece of paper? Maybe when she turns away from you, she disappears.

And how does this affect our kids?

The alarm has already been called to the spread of obesity in our nation’s children. One of my student volunteers told me that in his “food tech� class (our old home ec?), the students watched the documentary “Super Size Me.� When I was in high school, we watched scary sex ed films about herpes, not Big Macs.

Kids need to learn that you are what you eat. If you fill your body with junk food, what comes out will be junk – decreased energy, increased sickness and lack of respect for yourself. But if you eat a reasonable amount of a variety “growing foods� such as fruits, vegetables, multi-grained cereal products and meat and dairy, your body will thrive.

How do we combat this growing trend toward an ever-larger citizenry? The solution is pretty simple: eat less, move more. A person doesn’t have to go on a starvation diet or live at gym to make progress. Eat well and sensibly. If you have a big meal at lunch, eat a smaller one at dinner. If your work building has many floors, skip the elevator and take the stairs. Take a quick walk around the building twice a day to clear your head and get your heart pumping.

These are simple choices to make but they can help build a healthier lifestyle.

Maybe some day the new average can return to the old one.

Shamless Plug

For those dog lovers that want to keep tabs on our two whippets, head over our Dog Blog (The Dogs of Our Lives) as Brian has begun posting a photo almost every day. Sort of like a doggie picture of the day.

Posted by maasx003 at February 8, 2006 1:13 AM | Family


I couldn't agree more! I had a chuckle when you said "Growing Foods". I have always used that term with my son. I've always have said that junk food is shrinking food. I think all we really can do is lead by example. At eight my son already polices himself and will only ask for 'bad food once in awhile' Ex: French fries or chicken nuggets etc. With that I am off for a run. Have a great day!

Posted by: Sandy at February 8, 2006 10:44 AM

Jackie -

So nice to hear your voice so frequently, even when I'm on maternity leave. Now that I have a daughter, I wonder about how I can best help her navigate the often painful terrain of body image. Once she's a bit older, of course. I think you are right - move, eat foods that are "growing," and set a good example. Now, to take your advice to heart and get rid of those last few pounds of pregnancy!!!

p.s. Are you as anxious as I am to see how the Thalia daffodils faired this winter?

Posted by: Lisa at February 9, 2006 8:02 PM