To think vanity sizing is not just about people being fatter

(301 Posts)
goddessoftheharvest Sat 10-Sep-16 09:22:39

Not really a taat- I've been thinking about this every time it pops up on MN

Any thread about weight, there's always comments about how vintage size 12s were tiny, and the equivalent today would be a size 16. This serves to point out how people are getting gradually fatter without really noticing.

Aibu to think that might be a bit simplistic?

People nowadays have access to almost unlimited junk, yes, but they also have access to affordable vitamins, milk etc

My great granny was tiny, but she was raised on bread and tea in a slum with 8 siblings, two of them had rickets, and she was riddled with arthritis from a relatively young age

My gran (her daughter) had a marginally better upbringing, but not much- less children, better housing, more to go round, but still a restricted diet, no heating etc. She is a little taller than my great granny, about 5'3. Much healthier too, as she has had access to better food and living conditions from young adulthood

My mum is 5'4, and although she's still small, she's not as noticeably tiny as the other women in the family. Was still very poor through her childhood at times

I have had access to better food and housing etc than any of them, and I am much bigger. I am 5'6 and even at 7 stone I couldn't fit into some of my mum's clothes because my shoulders are so broad

My dad's family were poor, but they were country people. They got fresh air, sunlight, grew their own vegetables, liberated the occasional pheasant. Anecdotally they all seemed a bit taller/longer lived than the town lot

Also I see loads of old photos where the women are short, but quite round/stocky. So not necessarily fat, but not sylph like size 8 either

So aibu to think it's probably down to better nutrition and lifestyle as well? I see similar with friends my age too. We are all taller than our older female relatives. One of my friends is a power lifter and she would never fit into vintage clothes, but she is super healthy and just pure muscle- that would have been unusual back then too

Eolian Sat 10-Sep-16 09:28:03

I dunno - I think people are a bit taller but a lot fatter. I think weight has increased far out of proportion with the increase in height. And large, super-healthy, pure muscle types are surely in a tiny minority. Many things about modern life have improved longevity and disease-prevention, but being larger isn't one of them.

Lokisglowstickofdestiny Sat 10-Sep-16 09:35:28

I'm not sure we do have better nutrition compared to say 40 years ago. Most of our food is probably processed and full of sugar and sugar like substitutes, so I think in general people are fatter and the fashion industry panders to this by vanity sizing. We also snack far more, when I was growing up its was three meals a day and nothing in between, no sneaking a coffee and a Danish mid morning.
Looking at my daughter and her friends, they are all apart from one, taller than their mothers but not broader built. I have quite wide hips but I'm small boned, when I was 20 I was a size 10, now some 25 years later I'm about 2.5 stones heavier and still a size 10.

OublietteBravo Sat 10-Sep-16 09:36:30

It's difficult to reach a sensible conclusion based on anecdotal evidence.

For example, I'm taller and thinner than my mother and both grandmothers. My sister is a similar height to my mother, but considerably thinner. But I dont believe I can draw any conclusions which apply on a population level from this very small sample size.

goddessoftheharvest Sat 10-Sep-16 09:37:13

I think that is part of it too- more people are really overweight, that's undeniable.

But I do think people seem to be getting bigger generally, not bigger as in fat, but taller and not as delicate looking

I work in a school and three quarters of the sixth form girls are noticeably taller than me. Back when I went to school in the same area, the vast majority of us were about 5'5 to 5'7 and there wasn't many boys above 6ft, now they absolutely tower over me. Very few fat children in the school, but tall and healthy looking

If that's down to better nutrition in childhood though, i wonder will it reverse in years to come as children eat more junk food which is devoid of nutrition

Puzzledconfusedandbewildered Sat 10-Sep-16 09:38:46

Clothes simply aren't designed for the change in proportions of women. I struggle to find trousers and jeans as I'm just under 6' tall and am in proportion so my pelvis is by default larger (legs aren't overly long) and so the crotch to waistband bit is never big enough. I'm not alone.

WhooooAmI24601 Sat 10-Sep-16 09:43:20

I think people are bigger in all ways; my Great Grandad was 6 foot and was considered terribly tall - I remember my Grandma talking about him and he was known as "the tall one" in his family. My Grandad was two inches taller, my Dad another two inches taller at 6'4" and my brother hit the 6 foot 6 mark by age 16. I know it's anecdotal but I think if you look back over the last 5 or 6 generations, better diet, better healthcare and more access to 'bad' foods means our bodies have changed dramatically. My nephew is 15 and is the same height as my brother but seems to have slowed now.

In our family certainly each generation gets taller. Obviously it'll stop somewhere, but DCs are both huge (height-wise) and look set to continue the trend.

CaptainBrickbeard Sat 10-Sep-16 09:47:27

I think, OP, that there are a significant number of posters who just get a great deal of satisfaction and superiority from making sweeping statements about weight. On any thread about weight, these posters will inevitably state that 'we have lost sight of what a healthy weight looks like' and trot out the well rehearsed diatribe on vanity sizing, the obesity crisis and sugar. I'm not denying that there is truth in what they say. But often they can't help themselves from announcing that arbitrary weights/sizes = fat and I've seen people insist that anything above a BMI of 22 is fat and that it may be in the healthy weight range but it's definitely fat. These people are either rigidly incapable of understanding body shapes different to their own (a small framed Apple shaped person may well look podgy at a BMI of 24, it doesn't mean everyone will) or sadly, they are sometimes speaking from the perspective of their own extreme issues with food, weight and self esteem. It's not possible to have a rational, reasoned conversation about weight or diet on this site - perhaps because weight is such an emotive topic for so many women, bringing about a lot of shame and anxiety. For some it is also a way of shaming others in order to make themselves feel better. You will get all the cliches spouted in this thread and no one will end up any the wiser, more balanced or happier about the subject!

Somanyvipers Sat 10-Sep-16 09:50:17

Well said Captain!

Rockpebblestone Sat 10-Sep-16 09:58:51

Yes. If you look at clothes in museums people were absolutely tiny. Small feet, tiny rib cages, minuscule waists. The clothes for adults look like they belong to 10 year olds.

rookiemere Sat 10-Sep-16 10:04:16

I agree OP - people seem to have bigger frames these days, I bet if you look at shoe size - which no one can throw vanity sizing at, you'd find that the average shoe size has gone up quite a lot over the past 20-30 years

I have a broad frame and grew up with a distorted version of my weight and appearance as my DM has a very slight frame and therefore I felt like the jolly green giant in comparison. My best weight for me at 5ft6 is I think around 10st2 -10st7, but if you read some posters on here - who probably have very slim frames - that would make me into a wobbly monster although it's well within BMI ranges.

EarthboundMisfit Sat 10-Sep-16 10:09:25

Vanity sizing has done some posters a favour. The lovely few who like to say 'but you're NOT REALLY a size 10'.
You may be right op.

bramblesandblackberries Sat 10-Sep-16 10:10:20

Good post Captain

MaudlinNamechange Sat 10-Sep-16 10:11:40

Spot on, Captain!

I agree with the OP - people are getting bigger, not just fatter. Sturdier, and musclier. Women are encouraged to exercise and worked-out bodies are bigger.

Also, don't forget that smoking was once very widely used as an appetite suppressant (consciously or otherwise). Public health drives to stop people smoking have really worked and as a result, fewer people do. that has to have had an impact.

Oliversmumsarmy Sat 10-Sep-16 10:11:44

Dd is a today's size 4. She cannot fit into my old size 8 clothes.

kaitlinktm Sat 10-Sep-16 10:12:39

I didn't grow taller than my mum - despite a good diet. Unfortunately I grew a lot wider. sad She was brought up during the war on rationing, which she says was a very healthy diet though. Limited sugar and red meat and lots of vegetables.

CapricornCalling Sat 10-Sep-16 10:15:36

I'm shorter than my Mum but she admitted to smoking when she was pregnant with me. I spent first few weeks of my life in a special baby unit - which I only found out a few years ago.

CapricornCalling Sat 10-Sep-16 10:16:54

Apparently average weight of women in 1950s was 8 and a half stone - now it's 10 stone. Average weight of men now is 13 stone.

CapricornCalling Sat 10-Sep-16 10:18:17

Hasten to add I got the above info from a newspaper article a few years ago - it may no longer be accurate now.

Branleuse Sat 10-Sep-16 10:19:17

are we all supposed to feel guilty and bad that we're all bigger now. That we should do something about it? Maybe we should all go back to rations and gruel?

formerbabe Sat 10-Sep-16 10:21:46

I'm always shocked when I watch old 1970s sitcoms...The people always look so tiny.

goddessoftheharvest Sat 10-Sep-16 10:23:13

Funnily enough, I'm a bigger shoe size than my mum and gran!

My great granny would be nearly 90 now, she worked in a mill as did pretty much everyone back then, rarely saw a fruit or vegetable beyond potatoes and cabbage. They were all reared on bread, dripping and tea. Fed condensed milk and water. That was par for the course for thousands of people. Yes they were tiny and thin but they suffered dreadfully with health issues

My DD is 9, and while we aren't particularly well off, she sees food like aubergine curry, falafals,nuts, feta salad, sweet potato fries, as totally normal. She's had access to good healthcare, housing and education and nobody is going to make her work 12 hour shifts in a mill once she hits 14. Even things like taking pregnancy vitamins would make a difference I imagine. When you look at it that way- and yes I know it's anecdotal- it's not surprising that children will have a chance to grow taller and sturdier. Yes they might then use their lunch money to buy energy drinks and fried chicken and thus become obese.

CapricornCalling Sat 10-Sep-16 10:23:32

formerbabe - lol - I agree and looking at old programmes it seemed to be the fashion circa 1980 to wear skin tight T shirts etc - now everything is so baggy and hides a multitude of sins!!

flightywoman Sat 10-Sep-16 10:26:20

I'd just like to point out the BMI is a TOTAL load of nonsense for defining what is or isn't healthy.

It takes no account of the difference in weight of muscle mass compared to weight of fat density. So the majority of athletes and sportsmen and women are considered as 'obese' on the hieght:weight ration. It's a very blunt tool.

AND it was not designed to be used in the way we now use it. It was created between 1830 and 1850 and was just a descriptor of the distribution across population - purely descriptive, not as a paradigm to aim for.

It was co-opted for assessing weight in the 70s, but even then it was described as inappropriate for individual use and should be reserved for assessing the health of a population - as a comparison across the population.

And that's one of the biggest problems. It looks solely at the individual not at the range, so what was considered at the upper end of the range for victorians would not necessarily be the case now.

BMI is a complete crock!

banivani Sat 10-Sep-16 10:28:00

Surely it's well documented that humans are getting taller - although I have read articles wondering if we've topped out now, i.e. how much taller can we get. I do believe that there is a surge in height documented in Sweden coinciding with the introduction of rail travel, because people started moving around more and that mixed up the inbred gene pools.

There was a Danish study just the other year that showed that people with an average BMI of 27 lived longer than thinner people, and the researchers concluded that a more nuanced discussion of health and weight need to be had. A bit of extra flubber is a good thing for your body coz it's just extra nutrients in times of stress, isn't it. ;)

The British attitude to health/weight/size seems very ignorant, from what I've seen of it. Everyone bleating on about sizes (which is just an arbitrary number) and is that food HEALTHY well is it is it HEALTHY, and racking down on parents who give their kids beans and fish fingers for dinner the odd time because OMG THE SUGAR, while as a nation you have a whole system built up around school lunches consisting of sandwiches and crisps and people driving everywhere. Oh and from a Swedish perspective the idea of children eating a chocolate bar every day as a "treat" in their "lunch" box is plain bizarre. (I am being inflammatory on purpose now.)

People (women anyway) were thinner 50 years ago partly because they didn't eat. Read old novels and watch old films and there are countless references to women "slimming" meaning that they ate nothing, maybe a little dry toast for breakfast. Where are the healthy nutrients in that, I ask you. Granted we eat massive portion sizes these days but if we moved around more it wouldn't be a problem, because moving is what keeps a body healthy not mere absence of fat.

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