Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The pain of status: the snotty columnist

The New York Times recently ran a column by a fashion columnist that shows why a country's wealth gap is so harmful. (It's the biggest predictor of longevity. The bigger the gap, the lower our life expectancy. It's not just because the poor bring down the average, the better off don't live as long because the gap destroys social ties. This column illustrates this:
The snotty columnist just drips with elitism as she asks why Penney's was moving into Manhattan instead of staying in the suburbs where it belonged.
Here are some of the quotes from the column:
"Why would this dowdy Middle American entity waddle into Midtown in its big old shorts and flip-flops..."
"A good 96 percent of the Penney’s inventory is made of polyester"
"It took me a long time to find a size 2 among the racks. There are, however, abundant size 10’s, 12’s and 16’s."
" has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on. It’s like a headless wax museum devoted entirely to the cast of “Roseanne.”
"The petites section features a bounty of items for women nearly as wide as they are tall;"

Being overweight is very strongly related to income: the lower the income, the more obese. Being obese is hard enough, but having to endure such feelings of disgust and disdain is almost as bad. Feeling respected, appreciated, and recognized is crucial for health and well being. As we can see from this column, you don't get this in a society where the gap between the rich and the poor keeps getting wider and wider.

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