One of my friends just came home from the hospital, having sacrificed about a half pound of internal flesh she no longer needed that had become a nuisance. During her post-op stay, she was attended by a health professional I’ll simply call Nursula. My friend, who is about my size, could only describe Nursula as morbidly obese. But if Nursula doesn’t look like a health care poster child herself, she has a job, and the former congressman from the Ninth District of New York doesn’t. Nursula has a significant evolutionary advantage. She can buy competent cheap clothing, and she doesn’t have to be a dolt dressed up like a rock star, charged with representing more than 650,000 people to the Federal government. If she loses her job, she either gets another one easily or she draws unemployment. Wal-Mart would probably snatch her up in a heartbeat, and she’d probably be happy working there. Her wardrobe would never sink her finances. Nursula is a survivor.
Boomers with a memory will recall when conventional wisdom had it that people were more likely to be hired if their appearance sort of fit the job, or at least didn’t oppose the concept entirely. But Nursula and her ranks have changed all of that. And Wal-Mart is their champion. Wal-Mart has taken their part and forsaken all others. Bigness prevails at Wal-Mart.
I searched the racks, looking for something for summer. I didn’t ask much: anything street-legal in a size 4 or 6. But everything in a single-digit size had an X after the size number. Lots of things come in Small, Medium, and Large. But the one Small sent to my local Wal-Mart was long gone. Everything was in the L, XL, and XXL range. Of numbered sizes, 16-22 was the modal cohort. Lucky Nursula. She can buy clothes at Wal-Mart. I can order something online and pay about eight times as much and have exactly one new thing this summer.
The pie-loving First Lady’s campaign against obesity failed miserably. Nobody wants to be told what to eat and how big to be. And I can’t begrudge Wal-Mart’s indefeasible merchandising statistics. I don’t fit their profile, and their profile doesn’t fit me. Nursula has her niche, and I have mine. But my cohort has no champion. The Frugal-Small is a neglected class. We want rack space, and we want it now.