Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, October 18, 2021

Amid the recent outrage expressed over the Photoshop flap involving Ralph Lauren’s “too fat” 120-pound model Filippa Hamilton, everyone’s conveniently overlooking the social love-hate dynamic at play:

The fatter the general population, the thinner the idealized woman. And for all the public posturing and blogging, the only force that stopped people from buying clothes and magazines was the souring economy, not righteous indignation over skinny models.

By its very nature, fashion is a business of falsehoods and costumes, all in service to self-definition. The uncomfortable truth about the fashion industry is it has a knack for tapping into unspoken cultural obsessions and taboos. Fashion sets up a rarefied world of perfection that is, in many ways, defined by how much it differs from the mundane, from the norm. And all indicators suggest that as a culture, we hate what we are becoming: fat…

With that in mind, maybe all of the protesting about deluded designers has been wrongheaded. Maybe all of the demands that editors and photographers just use heavier models have been misguided. Because before fashion models will get any bigger, people in general will just have to get smaller.

It’s pretty simple: There’s nothing noteworthy about seeing regular-looking bodies and faces in media, because we see those same unremarkable images in everyday life. If you want to sell something, you do it by showcasing the rare and the desirable. To the extent that “real beauty” campaigns, like Dove’s, stand out, it’s only because they contrast so much with the clutter that is the glammed-up norm.

The exclusivity of beauty is also rooted in socioeconomic class distinctions, with everything from ideal skin tone to ideal body weight defined along haves/have-nots lines (with preferences often reversing, e.g. Botticelli plumpness being affluently desirable in societies where the masses are skinny due to subsistence-level living). As I wrote in this space years ago:

[G]eneral perceptions don’t work that way. The basic law of supply and demand works for societal trends, too: Those who fit the ideal of perfection (or at least desirability) are always going to be in the minority, and “the rest” are going to be a dime a dozen. Scarcity creates value; that’s natural. If every boy and girl were drop-dead gorgeous, then ergo, nobody would be beautiful.

Basically, we all want, and want to be, that which we can’t achieve unto ourselves. It’s twisted, but then, so is fashion.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/18/2009 03:55 PM
Category: Fashion, Media, Society, Women
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When it comes to historical stock market performance analysis, there’s a new beast in Wall Street’s menagerie:

“The reality is, all long-term markets in the last century, with one exception, were either bull or range-bound,” said [money manager Vitaliy] Katsenelson, who calls the up-a-little-down-a-little markets “Cowardly Lion” markets — where occasional bursts of bravery lead to stock appreciation, but ultimately are overrun by fear.

“Every protracted, secular bull market that lasted about 15-17 years was followed by a Cowardly Lion market that lasted about as long,” Katsenelson said. The only exception was the Great Depression, where the bull market was followed by a bear market.

And, in the aftermath of the boom-and-bust Great Recession era, we’re now allegedly at the start of a Cowardly Lion economic cycle. Hopefully some financial wizard will come along and conjure up a hard-charging bull before too many years.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/18/2009 12:47 PM
Category: Business, History, Movies, Pop Culture
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Muscovites will see a lot less of the wintry white stuff this year, if their mayor’s weather-control scheme flies: Paying the Russian Air Force to do cloud-level snow patrol.

The air force will use cement powder, dry ice or silver iodide to spray the clouds from Nov. 15 to March 15 — and only to prevent “very big and serious snow” from falling on the city, said Andrei Tsybin, [head of the Department of Housing and Public Works]. This could mean that a few flakes will manage to slip through the cracks. Tsybin estimated that the total cost of keeping the storms at bay would be $6 million this winter, roughly half the amount Moscow normally spends to clear the streets of snow.

This doesn’t prevent snow from falling — it just jumpstarts the snowfall so that approaching clouds dump all their stuff on Moscow’s surrounding suburbs. Maybe the metropole can rent out the under-utilized snowplows to the hinterlands, thus making even more money on the deal!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/18/2009 12:22 PM
Category: Politics, Science, Weather
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