Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is small the new big?

Recently, I had a period of many maligned hours when the interweb was down. Unfettered by hundreds of Tweets, masses of email, Facebook, Tumblr and various other pleasant pursuits, I found myself doing some very productive writing.

During this creative frenzy, I was searching for an alternative to the word small, meaning a 'niche' amount. But, trawling through my mind, I couldn't capture the feeling of quality or exclusiveness that I yearned for.

In my trusty Penguin Macquarie Thesaurus we didn't fare much better. For 'small', a plethora of nouns and adjectives popped up, and none were cause for excitement. This delectable group included: short, dwarfish, stumpy, runty, puny, negligibility, stingy, diminutive, skimpy, sparse, squat, mere, and paltry.

But I was trying to find a word for small that meant 'quality in number, not in size'. A general term, nothing fancy like niche or boutique, but with positive connotations, like a gem. The closest I got was: teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy, dainty, slight!

Conversely, the suggestions for something of good size were full of... well, greatness. Scale, scope, ampleness, breadth, sweepingness, flesh, plumpness, bosomy, busty, hunky... the list went on.

What is it about being small that has traditionally been seen as a shortcoming, while expansiveness is a symbol of greatness?

We do find big irresistible (and I don't just mean the Sex in the City
character)... historically we celebrated the larger female figure during the Classical, Renaissance, Baroque, and Romantic eras, while larger figures are still the Western societal norm (despite our unrealistically skinny models and celebrities). Then there are our 'supersized' meals, our shopping malls that should be allocated a separate postcode, monstrous four wheel drives and McMansions. It is a hyper-consumerist society that dictates the more generously proportioned, the more valuable the item.

But hark! Here's one of my new fave venues, Small Bar, flying the flag for all that is good about the petite. This haunt is located in Crows Nest, a 10 minute hop, skip and jump from the Sydney CBD (although there is another Small Bar on Erskine Street in the city). They are active on Facebook, though I wish they would get jiggy with Foursquare. Their catch phrase? 'Keep it small'. Their approach? Personal.

What are the punters' response to this attitude? Well, as one online reviewer wrote recently, "I don't think I've been this excited about a local bar. Sydney is finally awakening to the fact that it's the small things that count. People want intimacy, ambience, character and quality. With its unpretentious cool, Small Bar proves the power of the petit... Small Bar will surprise you with its appetite for style... Great things come in small packages, so get unwrapping at Small Bar."

Let's keep coming up with ways to appreciate that quality does come in small packages. It helps us appreciate the little things in life, and see that big isn't necessarily best.

Do you know someone keeping it small? Post a comment and share it with us.

1 comment:

  1. I keep it small, mostly unintentionally. Still waiting for that growth spurt (in relation to myself). Or a very good agent (in relation to my creations).

    I get rather miffed at people describing me as short, skinny, little, tiny, mini... so many words that mean "small" are not very nice things to be called even if well-intended. One of my dearest friends describes me as ickle; this one I like.