The largely unregulated mirror industry is under enormous scrutiny this week following reports that one hundred percent of their products are concave, making people appear far thinner than they really are.
"It's a fraudulent lack of transparency," says UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, "that has allowed us to ignore a vast problem crippling the national health care system. What everyone sees in today's mirrors is, quite simply, a big fat lie."
Caught off guard, mirror manufacturers have been slow to respond to the accusations. "We've been selling thin mirrors for decades," said one executive, under condition of anonymity. "The first were actually a production glitch, which we sold at discount in Missouri. Our sales skyrocketed and, when competitors copied us, we upped the ante to maintain profits. That's when things spun out of control."
Ripples are being felt on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, litigators have filed multiple class-action lawsuits on behalf of obese people nationwide.
"My clients claim they thought only their friends were super-sized," said Jim Beetle, lead attorney for one such suit, "and seek damages from these irresponsible manufacturers that are, well... as humongous as they are."
In the UK, calls for new regulations in the mirror market could meet with huge resistance. One producer, who launched a new "True View" line to get ahead of the proposed legislation, is seeing pushback from customers.
"We don't want the truth!" complained a woman from Birmingham, one of the UK's most-affected regions. "It's too painful to look at."
Separately, Hunt says his office is investigating allegations that scale-makers are intentionally selling products that report weights far below actuals.
"It's still early," says Hunt, "but we could be standing on something quite heavy indeed."