A rebuttle to a complaint that our comic - which addressing the issue of big and tall stores using their name as a euphemism, at the expense and injustice of the tall - is insensitive.

Negative Feedback

A little while ago we released this comic in which we used the word fat and we had one complaint that it was offensive and that we are being insensitive.

This is the one:

Big & Tall

The Defense Takes the Stand

I don't disagree that a person would feel offended. People are offended by lots of things.

However, I want to put forth a case as to why it was appropriate (and perhaps necessary) to use the word fat in all of its glory.

(read through to the end before getting in a huff, there's some legitimate reasoning here)

America has a lot of overweight people (overweight is so much longer of a word than fat). Although some people claim that obesity (a word which implies not just an image issue, but also a medical condition) is hereditary and yada yada. I'll argue FALSE. False in the sense that weight gain or loss is more strongly associated with calorie intake than any other factor.

Some people are big-boned. Some people have slower metabolisms. All people gain weight if their calorie intake is higher than what they burn. Obesity isn't a world problem like a viral infection or birth defect. It's a first-world problem.

My point is that you can take reasonable measures to adjust your weight to be what you desire. Two friends of mine have lost 50+ pounds in the past year. They didn't like their image and they changed it. Hurrah for my friends! :-D

A Tangent

Shorter people can also wear high heels, boots - or even have surgery to become taller. Tall people can't wear something to become shorter (and I've never heard of surgeries to make one shorter either).

Excessive shortness is considered a handicap and in order to make things more accessible to the handicapped (and children) many things are built way too close to the ground.

Yet excessive height isn't considered a handicap and we're supposed to just deal with it.

What about our accessibility? Are we lesser people because we're tall?

But Think of the Children!!!

Okay, I can agree with that. 100% of people go through a short phase. Only about 10% of people go through a tall phase. That's fair.

Back on track

It really doesn't make sense as to why words like fat should be taboo. There are many other terms that apply to people who are making lifestyle choices that negatively affect their image which are not considered taboo.

As an example, it's not considered culturally insensitive to unspecifically address a group of drug addicts.

But, whatever, the truth is that fat is often considered an offensive word. I can live with that.

We've got hurt feelings

Having established that fat is often taboo, now it's time to explain why we (the tall community) are crying tears of a rapper.

Tall people complain about not being able to find clothes that fit. Non-tall people invariably chip in with their advice:

Have you tried big and tall?

Well, the phrase "Big & Tall" is a lie - whether referring to the official JC Penney trademark or any of the assortment of various stores with a similar claim.

These stores use Tall as part of their euphemism to attract big people without offending them.

It's basic marketing psychology. The idea is that the subconscious thought and feeling of a potential customer will go something like this:

If I go to the Big store then I'm fat, which is taboo. But if I go to the Big and Tall store then maybe I'm Big, or maybe I'm Tall - and Tall is good so I can brag that I shop at a big and tall store.

Well, we're born this way (but not this way). It's not something we can change by changing our lifestyle. It's not that we have anything against the fat, it's that we don't like that this double-euphemism comes at our expense!

In reality big and tall stores don't have lengths that are any longer than would be expected in accordance with normal size progression.

An extra large is maybe 2 inches longer than a small. For many brands and styles, LT and XXXL are exactly the same size - they're simply relabeled (the tag on the shirt, that is).

We (speaking for many a tall person) are a little bitter about that injustice. We've got hurt feelings.

We, the Tall, have all had the experience of thinking we've found a store with clothes that might actually fit well only to go inside and find out that the cake is a lie. That breeds some resentment - not towards the fat, but towards companies that use us and our label to their advantage without giving us the promised product in return.

(That said, it's worth noting that although a MT from the regular section might be legitimately Medium Tall - though it's extremely rare to find one - an MT from a big and tall section is almost always a XXL or XXXL retagged)

That's the underlying psyschology of why we (Men's Medium Tall) chose to use the word fat. If we just said big, then we would fit into the stereotype of protecting group A at the expense of group B.

We needed to address the pink elephant in the room that all tall people are thinking. Meanwhile, the non-tall people don't see that pink elephant. It doesn't affect them.

Well, we're Group Tall and at this stage in the game we need the Tall to know that we're on their side. Not the side of the 69.2%. Not the politically correct side. Not the side of the 95%.

On the side of the top 10%.

Epilogue: And I've been there too

As an FYI, I'm actually slightly overweight, but no one ever notices.

When I was in 6th grade I was going through a chubby phase and one day this girl came up to me and said you're fat.

Since that day I have always sucked my stomach in. Always. Always. Always.

It's become the norm for me so much so that when I relax my stomach it feels weird. I probably only relax it when I'm sleeping.

I say this because I don't want anyone thinking that my points are invalid on a basis of never having experienced or having been impacted by image issues.

Image issues are something we all deal with and, in many cases, are things that we (as individuals) can resolve - regardless of the fact that it is easier for some than for others.

For the case of the Tall, we're helping to resolve image issues by providing clothes that are not only not embarrassing to wear, but that... well, look good.


By AJ ONeal

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