I can’t get over what a great photo of William Howard Taft this is. First of all, the man’s sense of style is unimpeachable. The three-piece suit, the mustache, the pocket watch – it all bespeaks a man who takes his clothing seriously, and the impact is accordingly impressive.
I also like it because, let’s be honest, it’s easy for stereotypically attractive people to look good in nice clothing. But most people aren’t like that. Most people have bodies that – reasonably or not – they’re somewhat uncomfortable with, bodies that bulge in places we’d rather them not, and most people make clothing choices aimed toward hiding those areas of our bodies that fail to meet the unattainable ideal.
Taft’s not doing that. Here you have a man whose girth is practically his defining feature – a man of such corpulence that he once got stuck in the White House bathtub – and his outfit not only accentuates his size but actually makes it imposing. A century-old dead President may seem a strange person to turn to for this sort of thing, but this photo is a little bit inspirational – everything about it, from the outfit to the glint of pride in his eye, speaks to Taft’s self-confidence.
This is timely because Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently released a plan to offer increased employee discounts to those employees with lower BMIs. Considering that a) the BMI is a notoriously unreliable way to measure someone’s health and b) making health food more expensive for people is unlikely to make them healthier, what this amounts to is a punitive measure against the company’s overweight employees – who have just been told by their own company that their bodies are unacceptable. There’s an incredible amount of bigotry, in every aspect of American life, toward the overweight; pictures like this are a reminder that, in minor ways, it can be subverted.
(Hat tip: Put This On)