Health Warnings on Clothes

Health Warnings on Clothes

A provocative article featured in the Daily Mail* voicing concerns about the UK’s growing population of overweight people. Naveed Sattar; Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow has outlined how we might deal with the problem. This has prompted me to write a response.

I write both on a personal level since I am part of that statistic (5’ 5” size 16/18, middle age overweight woman) and as the Director of a retail fashion business that specialises in size16 plus fashion.

All my adult life I have struggled to keep my weight in check. One of the things that has constantly put salt in the wound was the lack of attractive clothes size 16 plus. Even when some stores did offer a plus department it always seemed there was a lack of an attractive environment – I didn’t want to be shoved in the back of the shop or worse still, sent down to the basement. I wanted to shop in Joseph and Harvey Nichols. A stroll down Bond Street or Sloane Street would be frustrating and depressing. Indeed, these are the emotions that inspired me to start the company.

I believe that every woman has the right to be able to present herself in the most attractive way possible. We work with what she has not what she has not. All women should be able to buy beautiful clothes. This is not something that should be exclusive to thin people and larger women should not be prejudiced against.

Should the exclusive design shops such as Armani, Donna Karan, Gucci, Chloe and Nicole Farhi etc be more flexible then I would be out of business.

Having outlined why Beige exists and our philosophy, back to the article…..The headline in the Daily Mail “Obese should have health warnings on their clothes” was a mis-quote. The professor actually suggested “Oversize clothes should have obesity helpline numbers sewn on them to try and reduce Britain’s fat crisis”.

This crisis, by the way is not exclusive to Britain. It is a problem for most wealthy western countries. I accept that being overweight can be bad for your health – heart disease, cancer, joint problems, diabetes and so on are more prevalent amongst those of us who are overweight. Why it is of particular concern to Britain is because we have a National Health Service – we do not have to pay for our health care. In America there is no such a service and presumably overweight people pay higher health insurance premiums.

I understand the professor’s concern over what he has defined as ‘Britain’s fat crisis’. I agree that something should be done about it. But sewing in labels into clothes?

My quick answer to all of you who have asked what I think is, NO!

Why, No?

It will make the situation worse!I should think this proposed label would drive many to the comfort of the nearest chocolate bar. Those of us who are part of the fat crisis statistic know that we are fat. We know it’s not great for our health, in fact many are already suffering the side effects as listed above.
Educate Britain’s children about healthy lifestyles by all means, but please be more sensitive and less judgmental to those people who are overweight. Health warnings on junk food are acceptable, clearly marked labels on all food products is a great idea – most supermarkets have improved their labeling. The very idea of putting labels on people’s clothes in this manner has an extremely sinister feel to it – where does it all lead? Where does the responsibility of a government for the people begin and end?

Why are we allowed to purchase cars that have the capacity to exceed the speed limit…surely that can’t be good for our health?
We are allowed to over spend…indeed encouraged to do so…so should our credit cards be capped to reflect our earnings?

Why just pick on fat people? There are many other groups of people who put a strain on the government’s resources.

I am not saying that it is ok to be overweight – however if for what ever reason one finds oneself not able to wear clothes less than size 16 then it is not our place to judge.

Leanda Walters © 2006 Beige Plus Ltd

Links: Obese should have health warnings on their clothes* Daily Mail, 15 Dec 2006

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