ScienceSkepticism

Skepchick Quickies 3.27

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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11 Comments

  1. That article about the Sweet Valley books PISSES ME OFF. I understand that vanity sizing in the stores (started by the high-end labels and gradually trickling down to the department stores) has made it so 2008 size 6 really isn’t the same as a 1988 size 6. Still, though … after going through high school fretting about being a really nice-looking size 8 and wishing I could more frequently get into that “perfect size 6”, I hate to think of my daughter having the words “perfect” and “size 4” linked in her mind. Which is one of several reasons why she won’t be reading those books.

    I won’t pretend I’m completely content with my physical appearance, and I don’t know many women (feminist or otherwise) who can honestly say they are either. But in response to that article, I will take the most positive view of my appearance and say that my body is somewhere between a 10 and 12, marvelously curvy, the proud bearer of two children, able to run a 5K, decorated with two small and very meaningful tattoos, and rather good at a few things I won’t mention here. ;)

    Perfect? Maybe not. I have better things to do with my time than try to beat myself into submission to somebody else’s definition of the “perfect” size.

    /rant

  2. From the Business of Being Born article: “Again, the American legal system must bear part of the blame. No doctor wants to be on that witness stand explaining why he didn’t do an ultrasound or use a fetal monitor. Malpractice insurance is so exorbitant that it has led a lot of doctors to stop doing obstetrics.”

    Does one necessarily follow from the other? The simpler explanation is that the insurance industry must bear part of the blame. I seem to recall reading that changes to tort law in one state had no effect on doctor’s insurance premiums and that the insurance premiums seemed to be affected more by investment decisions of the insurance companies. Of course I have no links to articles, so this should be taken with the usual grains of salt.

  3. Over at the Gawker blog, some people are saying that the mapping from women’s clothing size numbers to actual body measurements has changed over time. (That’s my paraphrase, because I’m a math/physics person who likes mappings from X to Y.) A quick Google search turns up this Boston Globe article which confirms the general idea:

    With some exceptions, manufacturers are simply making women’s clothing larger and labeling them with smaller sizes. As a result, what was a size 8 in the 1950s had become a 4 by the 1970s and 00 today. The size labels just keep getting smaller, so it’s no surprise they’re diving below zero now, [vintage clothing retailer] Ainsworth said.

    So, it’s quite possible that the target audience of these new Sweet Valley High books would read “size 4” and imagine the same body shape that a reader from the 1980s would have associated with “size 6”. The changes in the books would then simply reflect all that has gone wrong with our public health, cultural perceptions of beauty and so forth.

    Note the other changes which Random House has advertised. In 1983, they say, “The twins drove a red Fiat,” but this year, the twins will drive “a red Jeep Wrangler.” Likewise, Elizabeth was the editor of The Oracle, the school newspaper, but now, she’s been upgraded to being a blogger, and The Oracle is now the school website.

    Does anybody else remember the Romeo + Juliet movie starring Leonardo diCaprio and Claire Danes? The one where everybody was brandishing 9mm pistols with “SWORD” stamped on their barrels, and “Post Haste” was a FedEx-style delivery company? This sounds like a version of the same thing: finding new cultural references that can do the work of old ones, because they stand in the same relationship to modern readers as the old indicators did to readers past.

    Tentatively speaking, then, calling a character “size 4” now isn’t any worse than calling their figurative ancestor “size 6” twenty years ago, unless other factors have changed as well (e.g., young women today feel a greater social pressure to conform to a single physical ideal than the previous generation did).

  4. Yes, but even if a modern 4 is equivalent to a older 6, that’s still pretty damn tiny. Are the twins supposed to be average height? Size 4 on an average height woman is very small.

    Of course there are women who are naturally that size. But you could keep the twins a size 6 today and they would still be healthy, attractive, and more importantly a size that is more easily attained by most women.

  5. I hate these weight/beauty studies. Everyone likes what they like for their own reasons, it doesn’t make someone better or worse than someone else witha broader range of taste.

    It sounds too familiar to the “gay is a choice” BS.

  6. Are the twins supposed to be average height? Size 4 on an average height woman is very small.

    You’re asking the wrong person! The closest I’ve come to reading a Sweet Valley High book is reading the Wikipedia article, which, as it happens, fails to convince me I missed anything of significance. (I grew up on Tom Swift books and the first few Amelia Peabody novels, which, now that I think about it, is something of an odd juxtaposition.) Well, the one where a “former classmate of Alice Wakefield’s lur[es] them to a beauty spa with the intention of stealing Alice’s face via a face transplant” sounds kind of interesting.

  7. If a woman’s goal in life is to meet an arbitrary clothing number assignment, she has too much time on her hands.

    As for Florida – see what happens when we teach evolution in school instead of intelligent design? It’s in revelation people!!

  8. LBS said, “I call bullshit. They did it in a church because it was naughty, and the chance of getting caught made it more thrilling.”

    And what’s more thrilling than doing the nasty in front of the big Goodie??? And was the church secretary wearing her moose antlers??? And if the goal was procreation how could the church be all that upset.

    What I found amusing about the article was when the deacon stated, ““I don’t know what has become of the people [that] somebody would just do something like that in a church,” So the complaint was that they were engaging in an act of affection and pleasure while above them on the wall was a reproduction of a barbaric roman execution… . Worshiping the sex act has a much longer history than concerns involving crosses.

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