4.19.16: Racist Dress Shirts, Eileen Huang, & Vitamania

Apr 19, 2016

The word vitamin has only been around for just over 100 years.  But now vitamins are a $36 billion dollar-a-year industry. Today, the history and science behind a mostly unregulated market.

Plus, can a dress shirt be racist?  An online retailer has come up with an algorithm they say ensures a near-perfect fit... But part of that data set includes ethnicity, prompting questions about the connection between ethnicity and biology.

Listen to the full show. 

Can a Dress Shirt Be Racist?

When filling out online surveys or credit card applications, being asked to disclose race can feel unnecessary...or worse, offensive. Would you feel the same way about divulging your race if it meant the expensive clothes you were ordering would fit better?

The online retailer Proper Cloth calculates the precise size for custom-tailored shirts and suits in part by asking about height, weight, and...ethnicity.  Moises Velasquez-Manoff is an author and science writer who looked into the implications of that question and the real and imagined connections between biology and ethnicity. His article "Can a Dress Shirt Be Racist?" appeared on Backchannel.  

Body Language

Our clothing says a lot about who we are. Whether flashy or simple, new or used, the things we fashion around our bodies speak volumes about our identities and our bodies.  Before the break we talked about whether race and ethnicity determine size and fit - in this story, producer Abby Wendle speaks with Erica Rasmussen, an artist who makes clothes that reflect on our notions of beauty, and the dangers that lie therein.

That story was produced for This Land Press. You can listen to it again at PRX.org

National Student Poet Eileen Huang

Last October, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced the current class of National Student Poets - the nation's highest honor for young poets. Eileen Huang was one of only five students chosen from nearly 20,000 submissions.

So, what is expected of a national student poet? Well, Eileen is touring schools and libraries here in New Hampshire and we were lucky to have her with us during April - National Poetry Month.

Vitamania

Journalist Catherine Price writes about the history, science, and beliefs surrounding chemicals manufactured and sold without any requirement to prove their safety, efficacy or even composition. Her book is called Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection and is now out in paperback. 

Catherine's list of resources consumers can use to better understand the supplements they're taking: