Modern manners

Transport for London has, in error, managed to reveal something very sad about modern manners and mores. They’re being accused of fat shaming, because of course they are. Doing something like fat shaming being a social crime in some quarters. But that’s not actually the part of modern manners that has been revealed here – we know all about that fat shaming because we’re shouted at about it enough. Usually between those breaths screaming about the obesity crisis of course.

Transport for London has faced mass criticism after a “fat-shaming” message was left on a noticeboard on Saturday.

The message read: “During this heatwave please dress for the body you have… not for the body you want!”

Baking blogger Michael Hawkes posted an image of the whiteboard, at Blackhorse Road Tube station, on Twitter.

He wrote: “Way to body shame, TfL.”

Others on social media agreed, tweeting their anger at TfL.

If we were to address this in economic terms we would point out that the manner of your dress is an externality. You are imposing your look upon that urban environment of everyone around you. Seemly and comely dress is an addition to the joys of the city for those around you. Not seemly and not comely is not, it’s a degradation of said environment. Of course, we know what to do with such externalities, we tax them. Thus leading, inevitably, to the creation of Clothing Inspectors who will fine people under TfL bylaws. How excellent, eh?

Rather more importantly though we’ve that vision into modern manners. Time was that modesty – yes, for male as with female – was considered a virtue. Fatty lardbuckets did not flaunt it just as the sixpack of abs was not flaunted simply because that’s not how public life was conducted. Now the argument is, seemingly, that modesty of any description must not just be ignored but positively rejected.

Really, TfL is being excoriated for suggesting that keeping it in your pants – even, wearing pants you can manage to keep yourself in – might be a useful part of appearing in public. And isn’t that a sad reflection upon modern manners?