Over the past half century, the average weight of the average American adult has increased more than 24 pounds (15%). But as any Broadway theatergoer knows, seat dimensions in many old theaters have not expanded in pace with our wide loads, and for the big and tall, attending a performance in an older theater can be a masochistic experience. At New York City Center, for instance, some of the notoriously cramped seats date back to 1924, when the building first opened as a meeting hall for the slim-hipped members of the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. But like many theaters across the country, City Center is changing to keep up with the big fat Joneses.
Next summer City Center will increase seat size by an average of two inches, from between 17 to 20 inches to between 19 to 22 inches. And for the vertically endowed, the space between rows to expand from 32 inches to between 33 and 48 inches. Even City Center's senior vice-president and managing director, Mark Litvin, can't abide by the current seating. "As I tried to put the seat down, I couldn't do it without cutting off my legs," he tells the Wall Street Journal. "Once you had the seat all the way down, there wasn't enough room for my legs to be between the seat and the railing. In certain key areas of the theater, there's not enough space between the rows. We're fixing that." But what about Big Gulp cup holders and popcorn troughs?!
On a related note, The Daily News has a two-page trend piece about how ample posteriors "are shaping up to be the summer of 2010's hottest trend." Leading the charge are famous people like Kim Kardashian and Serena Williams, who says, "I have big boobs and this massive butt." A book featuring "more than 400 photos of the female rump," called The Big Butt Book, recently hit shelves, and the News declares, "All you bigger-bummed ladies—it's your time to shine on the beach this summer." To paraphrase Spinal Tap, "How can you leave this behind?"