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Not saying anybody is big-headed, but.....

(70 Posts)
MawB Fri 06-Dec-19 06:55:17

The makers of a new First World War film say they could not use replicas of original combat helmets because today’s men have bigger heads than they did a century ago.
Costume designers on 1917, the new war film from Sam Mendes, were faced with a problem when they tried to kit out dozens of extras.
Pippa Harris, the executive producer, said: “There were some very odd production challenges – like the Brodie helmets.
“They had to scan the originals, then scale them up so when they sat on people’s heads they looked correct.”

annsixty Fri 06-Dec-19 07:24:29

I have decided not to comment on that
However in the spirit of the thread we all comment on how much bigger beds need to be these days, although I am comparing those we see in stately homes, somewhat earlier than WW1.
Do we have bigger brains now than a hundred years ago or are our general frames larger?

MawB Fri 06-Dec-19 07:52:05

Bigger brains, Annsixty - hmm- I couldn’t possibly comment! grin

Whitewavemark2 Fri 06-Dec-19 08:27:49

I do know that the government was very alarmed at the level of physical health of British troops. They were small and weedy because of poor nutrition, so presumably their bone development in their head followed suit?

I can remember when doing my degree we toured an area in the U.K. where the children were smaller on average by about 3 inches because of poor nutrition.

Hetty58 Fri 06-Dec-19 08:39:47

Just look at any old cottage with tiny doors and low ceilings! We're growing taller and larger with each generation.

Cabbie21 Fri 06-Dec-19 08:41:17

Nowadays poor nutrition seems to mean junk food and potential obesity in the UK. Not weak and weedy but weak and flabby?

Greyduster Fri 06-Dec-19 08:51:02

I remember going to the National Army Museum and looking at some of the uniforms that were worn during the Napoleonic Wars and Crimea, thinking how much smaller men seemed to be then. You would have been hard pressed to fit today’s average teenager into some of them.

Bathsheba Fri 06-Dec-19 09:08:39

I recall that several years ago the V&A, I think it was, wanted to stage a living exhibition of couture through the ages. They had to abandon the project because they were simply unable to find models tiny enough to wear the costumes of earlier centuries.

Callistemon Fri 06-Dec-19 09:51:56

I've looked up military records when researching family history and many of the men appeared to be, on average, several inches shorter than most men today so presumably their heads were in proportion.

Was it due to lack of nutrition or the fact that they did not eat junk food, may have left school at 14, walked everywhere and gone into manual labour jobs, hence using up the calories?

Urmstongran Fri 06-Dec-19 09:58:12

We are out in Spain at the moment and on Sundays the locals take to the paseos to promenade with their families. So many of the very elderly are tiny the men as well as the ladies - about 4’ 6”

M0nica Fri 06-Dec-19 09:58:23

I think it s a question of size and nutrition. One of the biggest concerns in recruitment during WW1 was that so many men were too short and in too poor health to recruit.

And as someone remarked this week when you see any of the recent coloured WW1 footage, the first thing you notice is the dreadful stateof most men's teeth.

pen50 Fri 06-Dec-19 10:02:31

I read somewhere that the difference in height between officers and ordinary soldiers in WW1 was 6 inches. By WW2 that had shrunk to 2 inches. Nowadays there's no difference at all.

In Spain the generation in their 30s and 40s are much taller than their parents; easily 6-7-8 inches.

When food is in short supply the body prioritises other things over height.

suttonJ Fri 06-Dec-19 10:07:16

Thank you NHS, for 70 years of improved access to medicine, which has doubtless give the post war generation and beyond, the gift of improved health.
And thank you Welfare State (sadly now on its knees) for trying to deal with the poverty, which had literally, stunted the growth of previous generations.
Sorry to get political, but beware the politicians who promote austerity but know nothing about it's effects on the lives of marginalised communities.

jaylucy Fri 06-Dec-19 10:20:22

I would probably say it all comes down to better nutrition all round.
I remember my mum remarking that when she was pregnant with us 4 children, mums were told that it was better if the baby was small , to help give them an easier birth!It wasn't the classic "Eating for two" that came in after.
Also during the First and Second World war, there was a lot of poverty in the general public, so nutrition was not that good, often just enough to keep a body going. My own father was born in 1926 and only ever reached 5ft 1 inch in height - his family were all under 5ft 6 inches, whereas my generation men are 5ft 10 inches plus and my son's generation 6ft plus!

Hetty58 Fri 06-Dec-19 10:21:01

www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-are-we-getting-taller/

Whitewavemark2 Fri 06-Dec-19 10:21:56

The government introduced things like free school milk because of the prevalence of rickets in children. Poverty and poor nutrition was a massive issue until the welfare state.

fiorentina51 Fri 06-Dec-19 10:28:19

I work in our local museum and helped to deliver school workshops on WW2. We have a number of original uniforms of the period and in most cases, apart from the sleeve length, they appear to made to fit the average 12 year old!

nahsma Fri 06-Dec-19 10:28:59

A slight diversion on similar lines: the ferris wheel that features in the 1949 film The Third Man, filmed in Vienna, was constructed in the 1890s. It is still is use. BUT now they only put visitors in alternate 'cabins' - we think it's because people are, on average, heavier these days.

Whitewavemark2 Fri 06-Dec-19 10:30:08

Children with rickets. This is what poor nutrition does.

Elegran Fri 06-Dec-19 10:30:27

I believe the level of illiteracy that became apparent once conscription was introduced was also unexpected.

Whitewavemark2 Fri 06-Dec-19 10:31:19

Whoops forgot photo

Whitewavemark2 Fri 06-Dec-19 10:31:52

Oh no I didnt😄😄😄

pinkquartz Fri 06-Dec-19 10:33:17

before WW1 men were much smaller and shorter. It was generally known that we are taller and that the Welfare State was partly brought into being because the Govt could see the poor physicality of the men aka soldiers.
In order to build up a good fighting force they saw the need for better nutrition.

Musicgirl Fri 06-Dec-19 10:39:20

Apparently, in the Boer War, the soldiers that were recruited had such poor teeth that they had to eat soup or soft foods. This led to the setting up of the school dental service in the first decade of the twentieth century in an early attempt to remedy this. I'm guessing, too, that the prevalence of Rickets at this time would also have led to growth being stunted as well as the general weak bones and bad teeth.

Callistemon Fri 06-Dec-19 10:42:07

And rickets start reappearing recently because parents were so worried about skin cancer they were smothering their children with sun cream before they let them venture out.