Truth is not always pleasant, fun or convenient, but it’s always necessary in life. Without the truth of a working compass, we would be desperately lost. Without the truth of a mirror, we wouldn’t know we have spinach stuck between our teeth or an embarrassing case of bed hair. And yet, our culture continues to find ways to make us feel better about ourselves even at the cost of the truth.
Last week I learned about “vanity sizing.” It’s been a known practice in women’s fashion, but it’s now part of men’s as well. In order to make consumers feel better about themselves, and potentially buy more merchandise, designers are selling items that are purposely mislabeled to seem smaller than they actually are. And I’m not just talking about half or a size difference. Old Navy, for example sells pants labeled 36 inch waist that are actually 41 inches.
Marketers are betting on the goodwill that smaller-than-anticipated sizes will have on consumers, hopefully propelling them to buy more goods: “Hey, I can fit on a size 31 skinny jeans. Oh, I need two pairs.” But vanity sizing is a lie and those skinny jeans won’t make you look small. As a matter of fact a size 41 skinny jeans on a man will make him look like a denim ice cream cone. Sorry about the visual.
So marketers are liars. That’s nothing new. But we have been playing vanity games for a long time. We tell our children they’re great singers when they’re tone deaf. We tell people we believe in them, but we secretly we don’t. We give praise in public only to tear it down privately. We hate the Simon Cowells’ of the world, but often they’re the only voices of reason.
How can we grow if we are not willing to find out the truth, no matter how difficult?
Honestly, vanity sizing works on me. I just bought 2 pairs of 32 size pants. I wouldn’t have bought any if they were sized 36 or even 34. But I also know that with every picture and every mirror reflection the truth is staring back at me. There are not enough skinny mirrors out there to distort the truth.
When was the last time you were honest with someone? How did it turn out?