While we hear a lot about the changing "face of America" in discussions about the increase in immigration and multi-culturalism, what we should be talking about is the changing "body of America". Apparently, we are getting shorter as a people.
I found that out the hard way yesterday while trying to shop for new dress pants at a number of area retailers. A 34 inch inseam is becoming more rare on the rack--as retailers stock more shorter sizes to meet demand from a shorter consumer base. A clerk at one store told me they don't even stock 34-inch pants anymore--and that I would have to order on-line from their "big and tall" selection.
At my last physical, I measured 6' 2.5"--down from the 6'3" that I was in my 20's and 30's--but I do not consider myself to be "big and tall". Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is "tall". My friend Joe--who is 6' 8 and over 300-bills is "big and tall". At 6' 2.5" I should still be able to buy clothes off the rack. However, compared to our "newest Americans" I am a giant.
The average height of men in Mexico is 5-7. Most of the rest of Central America is a couple inches shorter than that. Average heights in Asian countries range from 5-4 to 5-7. Syrians average 5-7 while Iraqis are just 5-5. What I need are more Dutch men to immigrate to America. They average six feet now. Or maybe more Norwegians--coming in just a quarter inch shorter than that.
There is likely some good news in the distant future. As with immigrants of European descent, those coming from other continents and countries will have children that are taller than them. Credit better nutrition and child health care here in the US for that. After a couple of gerenations, they will be helping the national average height--and perhaps size 34 pants will return to the realm of "normal size clothing".
In the meantime, I guess I'll have to get used to being "big and tall"--just like I got used to "press one for instructions in English".