Friday, December 24, 2010

Less invasive than what?

Even if I had celebrated Festivus on schedule, I'm not organized enough to have gathered up my grievances into a neat package the way Fritinancy did. But there was a complaint-worthy headline in yesterday's Times, on the holiday itself, and since I'm behind schedule on everything else, I might as well be a day late recording this too.

It came with the lead story in the Times's Styles section, which had a photo and headline borrowed from Nora Ephron -- "Can We Feel Good About Our Necks?" -- and then a very strange subhead:

Put Away the Turtlenecks:
Less-Invasive Options Exist
To Tackle That Area of Dread

Wouldn't that be nice -- a neck-firming treatment that's less invasive than putting on a turtleneck? But of course the headline writer didn't mean that: The procedures covered in the article are only "less invasive" than a full face- or neck-lift. (They're also expensive and as yet unproven, of course, like so many of the cosmetic remedies that get free advertising in the Skin Deep column.)

It's fine to call something "less filling" or "less expensive" and leave the comparison implied; less has always worked that way. But you can't stick a word like "turtlenecks" in there, in a spot where it insists on being read as the term of comparison, without confusing readers. (I'm not the only one who noticed the problem; the subhead doesn't appear on  the web version of the story.)


Fritinancy said...

I used to own an invasive turtleneck. I was constantly spitting out bits of yarn.

P.S. Thanks for the shout-out!

J9 said...

Less invasive than a turtleneck? wouldn't that be not worrying about your neck presentation at all?

Bryan White said...

Yes, I got what they were saying after you explained it, but at first glance it did sound like they were saying, "Less-Invasive than a turtle neck..."

Edith Ann said...

Is less invasive than a turtleneck a V-neck?

You would lose your mind if you read the headlines in the Victoria Advocate newspaper down here. This sort of stuff is served on a daily basis.

JuniV said...

I didn't realize turtlenecks were that dangerous.

Chris Hunt said...

Is that subhead intended to be a haiku?