Saturday, August 18, 2007

They don't teach counting (past 12) in design school

I'm sure most everyone has heard about the guy who had thumb surgery, not because his thumbs had anything inherently wrong with them, but because they were too large to easily operate tech gadgets like iPhones and Crackberries. If you haven't, well, here's a link.

I'm really upset by the implication that the human body is the malleable, problematic thing that must be molded to suit products. I believe that products should change to fit the people, NOT the other way around.

Is it really that detrimental to the profit margin that products suitable for larger hands cannot be manufactured and sold*? I would think that a decent niche market exists here; I know lots of folks with big hands--and it isn't because they're fat, or even because they're unhealthy or deformed. It's because some folks have genes that make them bigger than other folks. Furthermore, it is absolutely useful and necessary to have some of us bigger and some of us smaller in order to fulfill the myriad roles that life offers--or even the spots on a football team.

This, of course, ties into fat acceptance, because we are expected to bow to the arrogance of clothing designers and manufacturers that pronounce us too "disgusting" to wear clothing created by them. In order to wear designs by Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein, we are encouraged to starve ourselves, expend our free time literally running in circles, taking dangerous or unpleasant medications, or even having our digestive systems surgically altered. Human flesh is to be cut, sculpted, and molded because it is apparently too difficult for these small-minded (pun intended) nimrods to work with the bigger numbers required to size things up a bit. I suspect the real reason they can't make bigger clothes is that they're too stupid to do the higher math involved; otherwise, it's too depressing to think that they hate larger women so much that they would rather we don't even exist.

It isn't just the clothing manufacturers, though. It's the makers of airline seats, medical equipment, and other items that fail to take the larger person into account. How many of you have chosen to fly less because of the discomfort of airline seating? Or the embarrassment of trying to shoehorn yourself into a seat? While I don't have problems fitting into a seat, being wedged in without the ability to move my legs or lean back a bit is so painful that I just don't bother visiting my family anymore. My long-legged spouse looks like a folded up mantis, and it hurts to even look at him in that state. I wonder how many people would fly more if they'd make it just a little less miserable to do so?

I don't know what the answers are, except to patronize those who DO give larger folks consideration, but when there is no company filling a niche (as with the phone situation), it's really hard to do that. What I do know is that, if someone were to suggest to me that I undergo surgery in order to better use a product, I will show them the first sign language word I ever learned. Surgery should be used for saving lives, reducing pain, or otherwise fixing a real problem, like helping someone to walk. If anyone thinks I'm going to have surgery so I can wear a clothing brand or use a telephone, they can suck it.

*There is, by the way, a cell phone manufacturer that makes phones with large, easy to push (and read) buttons--but the phone is very simplified, as it is marketed towards seniors. For the big-guy techie, somebody needs to step up to the plate and make a similar but more complicated product.


KateHarding said...

Excellent post! One small nitpick...

In order to wear designs by Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein, we are encouraged to starve ourselves, expend our free time literally running in circles, taking dangerous or unpleasant medications, or even having our digestive systems surgically altered.

Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein have both finally gotten around to adding plus lines in the last year. The pickin's are slim, but at least they exist now.

One could substitute any number of other designer names in that sentence and it would still be entirely true, though.

And btw, I actually just got rid of a Treo and went back to a normal old flip phone because, among other reasons, the Treo was too big for my hands. I mean, I could use it, but I hated talking on a phone that wide and that heavy. It certainly never occurred to me that the problem was my hands, not the phone. Yikes.

Mariellen said...

I agree with Kate. And one thing I have done for the last few years is let places know if they are fat-friendly or not. I used to be a mystery shopper, and that was always included in my reports. I let the companies know if their establishment was fat/handicapped accessible and how that would relate to a customer's experience. Even though I no longer mystery shop, if there is a comment card, I fill it out and turn it in to let them know if they need to improve their accessibility for fat and/or handicapped customers. After all, we have money to spend and if they want any of it, they had better make their business easy for me to shop/eat in.

Karin said...

You do know that the thumb article is a satire/fake? Here's the editor's note:

Sadly, I feel that this is becoming reality. There are quite a few women who have ribs removed to have an hourglass figure! Women are getting their chest pumped up and thighs sucked thinner to fit into clothes. I always ask myself why clothes aren't made to fit US.