New from NPR! 自欺欺人的虛榮尺碼

From NPR


Americans are growing larger - and we're not talking about height. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention美國疾病控制與預防中心, about two-thirds of all people in this country are either overweight or obese. Doctors are not the only ones responding to this change. NPR's Shankar Vedantam, who joins us regularly to talk about social science research, tells us marketers are responding as well. Hi, Shankar.
INSKEEP: Why marketers?
VEDANTAM: Well, as Americans have grown larger, they have become increasingly dissatisfied as customers. So, you know, it used to be that a size six or a size eight would fit you and now you have to get a size 10 or 12.
INSKEEP: And now you're grumpy脾氣壞. You feel unhappy, you feel bad about yourself.
VEDANTAM: Exactly. And the implications aren't just bad for your health, actually the implications含意/弦外之音 are much worse. They're bad for business. And so marketers have come up with a really ingenious巧妙的/足智多謀的 solution - it's actually been around for years - they have made the clothes larger but they re-label重新標示 them as being smaller. And the phenomenon現象 is called vanity sizing虛榮尺碼. I spoke with this marketing professor at the University of Michigan - her name is Aradhna Krishna - and she tells me it's gotten to a point where these tweaks to the label aren't small anymore, they're really, really dramatic戲劇化.
ARADHNA KRISHNA: Because, in the U.S., there is so much obesity, there is greater need for vanity sizing. What used to be a size eight in the 1950s has become a size four in the '70s and a zero in 2006.
INSKEEP: That's not a tweak原意是擰或扭,這裡指的是稍稍調整(扭曲一下), that's a big deal. Why make such a big change?
VEDANTAM: The reason they make a big change is, of course, that it's very effective. Customers seem to be very happy with these clothes. They seem to buy them in greater quantities. The question that I had for Krishna, though, is do customers actually realize that marketers are lying to them?
KRISHNA: It's not a question of being lied to, it's a question of do you want to be lied to?
VEDANTAM: So, this is a really interesting philosophical哲學的 question, Steve, which is if you want to be lied to, does this still constitute a lie如果存心想被騙,那麼謊言這件事情還能成立嗎?
INSKEEP: I am trying to sort this through, because if you're buying clothes that remind you that you're heavier than you want to be and it makes you feel bad, marketers are saying, well, it's going to make you less likely to buy clothes, maybe you'll spend less on the wardrobe花少點錢在買衣服上. If you get the smaller size, suddenly the clothing makes you feel good. But you're saying that people perhaps consciously有意識的, or on some level某種程度上, actually want to lie to themselves. That what this is suggesting?
VEDANTAM: I think that is exactly what this research is suggesting. And it used to be that vanity sizing was primarily for women's clothes. Increasingly now, Krishna tells me it's also for men's clothes. And, of course, it got me thinking about the clothes that I was wearing, so I asked her about it. So, you're saying that the size 36 pants that I think I'm wearing might not be size 36 pants?
KRISHNA: Unfortunately, yes. You actually might be wearing a bigger size and feeling that you're actually a size 36.
INSKEEP: But you're feeling good about yourself right now, aren't you, Shankar? That's important.
VEDANTAM: I am. And in fact, I think that actually my size is probably 28 and my pants were mislabeled亂標 as a 36. And it's actually gotten so out of hand失控了/太過誇張 because vanity preferences differ across countries對虛榮的偏好與需求各國都不盡相同. And apparently now, if you're buying women's bras, a bra that might be a size B might get labeled as a size C in some part of Asia. The very same bra could get labeled as a double A in the United States.
INSKEEP: Now, let's figure that out for a moment. People are pretending假裝 to wear smaller clothes - or let's put it another way: they're wearing clothes that are labeled differently even though they are larger. Could that actually be bad for people's health, because they're lulling themselves into自欺欺人 thinking that they're thin?
VEDANTAM: I think there are some really important health implications健康方面的意涵 here. I think you're exactly right. In fact, Krishna has done a lot of work looking at food labeling as well. So, for example, she conducted an experiment進行一個實驗 where she had identical cookies一模一樣的兩盒餅乾, but she labeled some of them as medium size and some of them as large size. And what she found is that people were willing to eat many more cookies when they were labeled medium size. And so what this suggests is that one potential way可能或可行的方式 to address some of the obesity problems we're having is to re-label the food so that it's larger, and that might prompt people to eat a little bit less使人們吃得少一點. The problem here is that in many restaurants, portion sizes are not standardized食物的量並尚未標準化. A large soda that you could get at McDonald's is the same size as a medium soda at Wendy's. And Krishna thinks it would actually be very helpful if you went to different restaurants and small, medium and large actually meant the same thing everywhere.
INSKEEP: So, you can have some standards. And that's the problem here in the end, isn't it? The reason that people are looking at clothing labels and looking at the labels on food is 'cause you could eat any amount of food, you could probably be reasonably comfortable at a lot of different weights, and you're looking for some kind of cue提示 as to what's appropriate.
VEDANTAM: Exactly. I mean, psychologically I think people believe the label is actually reflecting reality標示真的能反映現實. But what the labels have increasingly become is they have become a psychological phenomenon to tell people how much to eat, what they're wearing and whether to be satisfied.



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