Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
Fierce Freethinking Fatties has put out a call for all bloggers available to post about Dr. Dolgoff. So who is she? She’s not only the author of a children’s diet book, Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right (which no, I’m not going to link to), but she’s the paediatrician assigned to look after the kid’s on The Biggest Losers. What’s that? You didn’t even realize there were kids on The Biggest Loser? Oh ho! You’re in for a treat (by which I mean a major mind fuck)! So The Biggest Loser has decided that it can’t get by with humiliating and abusing fat adults any more. It need a new schtick. And what better prop than children? Three contestants, aged 13-16 years old, will be participating in Dr Dolgoff’s diet program, but not weigh ins. And don’t worry, the trainers promised not to yell at the kids… for realz.
Dolgoff’s diet program contains a hell of a lot of recipes for Splenda for which she’s a spokeswoman for. Now, that’s not bad in and of itself.. until you start talking about someone who’s looking after the health of our kids. Splenda is questionable at best as a health food and everyone knows the way to maximize health is to consume whole foods, not processed crap.. like splenda.
But of course their goal is not to increase health, as they claim, it’s to make the kids thin. Not only do they cite bullshit statistics about 75% of parents not knowing their kid is ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ (can we see that study please? No? I didn’t think so), but they continually talk about a childhood obesity epidemic when obesity rates have been level for the past decade. Sure the number of ‘overweight’ kids doubled in 2007, but only because they lowered the BMI standards so that ‘normal’ weight kids became ‘overweight’ overnight. Dolgoff says the kids won’t be counting calories, presumingly to stave off obsession with numbers and thus not be accused of promoting eating disorders (in which 2700 in 100,000 kids have, compared to 12 in 100,000 kids with diabetes by the way).
What bullshit. Apparently they think teenagers are fucking idiots. The fact is that the message they’re receiving from society, from this TV show and, most fucked up, from their parents, is that they’re not good enough until they’re thin enough. This is straight up child abuse and child exploitation whether anyone in our fucked up society wants to say so or not. As a queer woman the only thing I can think of as similar would be conversion therapy when people still thought being LGBT was a disease. Now we think being fat is a disease and we’re putting people through fat to thin conversion therapy, and we’re doing it with children. We’re waging an all out social war on children. Everyone wants to scream “what about the children”? well what about the children? How can we think that involving them in anything deemed “a war” is appropriate? A war against what? A war against them. And again, kids aren’t stupid, they know the war isn’t just on their fat, the war is against them as human beings. Dr. Dolgoff should damn well be ashamed of what she’s doing.
Saturday, October 27th, 2012
I recently became employed full time again, and that means I sit in a cubicle surrounded by other cubicles for a large portion of my work day. Overheard conversations often waft my way, particularly from the two rows of women who sit behind me. I’ve noticed some trends in the discussions so far: job duties, complaints, family/friends/pets, jokes, politics, health care (they are nurses), and dieting/weight loss. Because they are nurses, many of them have a pretty good idea of health in that they want people to care for their bodies, but it seems even nurses try fad diets; one nurse talked about South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, and something about eating nothing but cabbage.
In all the quiet corners of office talk, I hear women talking about diets and weight loss, if only for a minute or so, but only when the men have gone. Women only seem to be comfortable talking about their bodies to each other–understandably so. Men habitually and often agressively comment on women’s bodies even when those comments are unwanted (see: street harassment), so it’s no surprise that diet talk is often a conversation women will only have with each other. In the break room during lunch, women chat about eating habits, exercise regimens, weight loss, weight gain, and diets. It seems many women bond over diet talk:
Coworker #1: “You look like you’ve lost some more weight.”
Coworker #2: “Yea, another two pounds.” [smiles]
Coworker #1: [Puts down fork in shock] “Good for you!”
Coworker #2: “Yea, look: this dress is loose on me.” [Sits up straight and pulls the fabric around her waist]
Coworker: #1 “Sweet! You can give me all your old clothes.” [laughs]
Coworker #2: “I will! Some of the stuff is brand new, tags on still and everything.”
These two women exemplify the bond between women over weight loss and gain because Coworker #2 is beyond willing to donate the clothes that no longer fit her to Coworker #1 all because Coworker #1 showed support. This a bond over bodies, and in a way, it’s excellent that women can form such bonds with each other over their bodies; I especially like how encouraging they were to one another. However, the context of the discussions women have about their bodies hinges on gains and losses (or victories and defeats) rather than the way we show our bodies kindness and respect, how we care for our bodies by responding to their needs, and how to show our bodies love and appreciation. We are always discussing our bodies as something that needs to be fixed, tweaked, lessened, or manipulated.
I’m not saying it’s wrong or bad to discuss the triumphs and challenges women share about their bodies, but wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to be part of discussion about women’s bodies that doesn’t dissect and measure them? Wouldn’t it be inspiring to instead share techniques for self love and acceptance? I think that the conversation could go in this direction if just one woman in each diet discussion could bring up modes of self love and acceptance.
Of course, we don’t hear those types of conversations coming from the body-hating media and advertisers; we see conversations about how to get the flattest stomach, reduce thigh size, and lose “winter weight.” Again, it’s all about “fixing” broken bodies. Because body hate is all we really see and hear from the media, family, and friends, it’s difficult to be the one voice of body love and acceptance in a world full of people having a different conversation. But starting that conversation is an act of rebellion; it is active dissent against beauty standards, fat shame, pro-anna, self hate, and girl hate. Instead of sharing trends for fixing bodies with diets, let’s share the trend of body acceptance.
If you are reading this, I hope you will consider asking your friends–especially those who engage in diet talk–how they show their bodies love, kindness, and respect. Mostly likely no one has asked them before, and it could open up an entirely new line of thinking about bodies. This kind of conversation could deepen our bonds to each other by letting others become intimate with the love and acceptance we give ourselves. They could deepen our bonds to our own bodies as we stop hating, dieting, and obsessing and start loving, valuing, and accepting. Let’s start a new conversation, right here, right now: one in which we discuss love and respect instead of loss and gain.
Saturday, October 6th, 2012
As of late, I’ve noticed that some folks in and outside of the fat accpetance movement have some misconceptions about what the movement encourages. Here are some of the myths I’ve come across debunked.
5. Fat acceptance says don’t exercise.
Fat acceptance doesn’t want to control your behavior. It doesn’t want to tell you what to eat, how to eat, what to wear, how to wear it, or what your body should/shouldn’t be doing. Whatever you choose to do with your body is what you choose to do with your body. If you like to exercise, great; do it. If you don’t, great; don’t do it! Your body is yours, and no one should be able to tell you what to do or what not to do. Personally, I exercise. I do for mental health reasons; it gives me a boost of the good chemicals I feel are essential for my mental stability. When I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I worked with my behavioral therapist to look at options other than medication. She suggested exercise because I had mentioned that doing yoga helped me relax and gave me a positive boost. Since then, I have been exercising because I like it. However, any reason is a good reason to do what you want with your body. If you just like it, then you just like. If you don’t like, then you just don’t like it. Fat acceptance wants you to have complete ownership of your body, and whatever that means to you is whatever it means to you.
4. Fat acceptance is a “women only” movement.
It may seem like the conversation is dominated by women, but fat acceptance isn’t trying to keep men out of a women’s only conversation. Men face an increasingly rigid standard of beauty that is being marketed through the media. We have only begun to see the repercussions of a male beauty standard, as it’s something that folks are just starting to research. Women are usually the ones writing about fat acceptance because there has been a lot of in depth research into the harm female beauty standards cause to women and girls. However, men are encouraged to participate in the discussion. If you are interested in reading fat acceptance writings from men, here are a few to blogs with male/gender neutral FA bloggers:
Fat acceptance also seems to be cis centered, meaning it tends to focus on cisgendered bodies. It’s imperative that trans* individuals are part of the discussion about body image. My one big criticism of the fat acceptance movement is its lack of trans* visibility. I suggest that the fat acceptance community involve trans* bodies in their campaigns because, if we don’t, we are guilty of maintaining a power structure that would like to erase trans* individuals.
3. Fat acceptance wants to reverse the power dynamic between thin and fat.
If you belong to the blogging community–hell, if you’ve logged into Facebook lately–you might I have seen images like this:
These message, in effect, undermines the struggle for fat acceptance. Fat acceptance is not about when thin became hotter than curvy women, what straight cis men find attractive, or the policing of bodies. This type of argument only seeks to reverse the power structure of thin/fat so that fat (or curvy) is favored, and therefore privileged, over thin. Regardless of what the beauty standard is, it’s still oppressive in that one must adhere to it, be shamed if one doesn’t adhere to it, and bodies that don’t fit said standard are seen as not real, good, or worthy. True fat acceptance wants to smash the power structure that says one body is “better” than another. Fat acceptance is about people loving their bodies without having to fit into a standard of beauty: it says that all bodies are real bodies; all bodies are good bodies. Pitting bodies against each other should never be the focus fat acceptance activism.
2. Fat acceptance glorifies obesity.
To me, this myth is nearly laughable. The idea that loving your body regardless of who says you are beautiful glorifies obesity really just translates to “but isn’t being fat bad for you??” The short answer is No, being fat is not bad for you. In fact, fat acceptance is linked to better health outcomes. The fact of the matter is that no one should be shamed about their body. No standard of beauty can tell you whether someone is healthy. Most importantly, shaming someone into being who you want to see is not going to help them feel good about themselves. If one doesn’t feel good about one’s self, one is less likely to care for one’s body and mind. It’s important to understand that the only things being glorified by fat acceptance are self care and self love
1. Fat acceptance demands complete confidence and self-love at all times.
Some mornings I wake up and I can’t look at my body in the mirror. Some mornings I wake up and feel fabulously fat and fierce. Some mornings I wake I and don’t feel anything about my body at all. How we feel and what we think about our bodies fluctuates as often as our moods. No one is asking for complete and total self love, no exceptions, no excuses. Self acceptance is a process; there are challenges we face in that process. Most of the challenges come in the form of self-doubt, insecurity, self-hate, and feelings or inferiority/invisibility. The reason why fat acceptance activists are constantly shouting from roof tops, “Love Your Body!” is because we struggle with loving our bodies on a daily basis. When I say Love your body it’s more like a reminder to myself: Hey, you, don’t be so hard on yourself; see your body for what it is; care for it and love it and treat it with kindness and respect.
In addition, self love and acceptance is more difficult for some than others. No one is giving you a time frame to work in; no one expects you to wake up tomorrow from the slumber of self-hate, bursting with a passionate love for your body. Loving any aspect of yourself is a day to day challenge that requires a plethora of strategies to overcome said challenges. Fat acceptance simply asks you to work on undoing years of shame and self hate through compassion, care, and love. Some folks my not be ready to establish that relationship to their bodies yet. Perhaps there are other things a person needs/wants to accept about themselves before they can begin work on fat acceptance. That is great. Work on whatever aspects of self that will challenge how you see yourself and what you can do. Again, there is no timeline, and there is no one cracking a self-love whip. However you experience your journey of fat acceptance is right.
Monday, October 1st, 2012
Who here has heard of Velvet D’Amour? If you follow fatshion models she’s a pretty big name, mostly because of her catwalk work with Gaultier and Galliano (thanks Wikipedia!).
Anyway, she’s a photographer as well as a model, and has some great philosophies about creating a more accessible and diverse ideal of beauty. To that end she’s created her own high fashion magazine named “Volup2″ (all issues of which you can read online for free here)
I used to be a magazine hound when I was a teenager before I became more critical about the media I was consuming (and realised how it was affecting me). But I really enjoy this magazine because I’m obsessed with issues of representation for people who don’t fit the mainstream. I’ve read all three issues and thus far I’ve seen fat women, women of different shapes, men, many different ethnicities, different abilities, the tattooed and pierced, older women, trans people etc etc etc. I LOVE seeing high fashion like this. It’s so different from what is currently out there. And once I have proper disposable income I’d love to order print copies of these mags to have on my coffee table (note to self: buy coffee table).
Anyway, for me to be able to continue to enjoy this fine magazine I’d like to offer a signal boost for her Kickstarter campaign. Currently a lot of work is being done by volunteers, and I’d love to see what they’re capable of when they’re actually being paid to focus exclusively on what’s being produced. Also if you have over five grand to spare you can model in the magazine. Or buy me a coffee table. Whatever you like.
Check out the Kickstarter here.
Friday, August 17th, 2012
In her book Fat is a Feminist Issue Susie Orbach proposes that some women have a subconscious desire to get fat as a response to sexism, gender roles, and misogyny. One of the reasons for response, Orbach suggests, is that women do not feel able to express anger, and feel invalidated when they express anger:
|Women are actively discouraged from expressing anger, rage, resentment, and hostility. We are raised to be demure and accept what we are given with no complaints. We all learn how little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice. So we try hard not to show our anger or even feel it ourselves. When we rebel and show dissatisfaction we learn we are nasty and greedy. Whether we realize it or not we are being taught to accept silently a second-class citizenship. Secondary status is further compounded by having our anger denied us. Anger provides a way for people to challenge injustices at whatever level. […] Little girls are encouraged to cry if they do not get what they are wanting instead of angrily protesting. Anger, as a legitimate emotion for many women, has no cultural validation. (Orbach, 49)|
If I think back to my childhood, I can remember numerous attempts at anger, to which my mother responded with scolding. I learned very early that a much better way to communicate my upsets without bring scolded—but rather being coddled—was crying. I still cry when I’m angry because I am trying to reroute that anger, or because I feel I am not allowed my anger, and so tears come instead. As I got older, and my anger compounded, I had to find other ways to reroute my anger since there was no validation for it. Eating became a way to stifle my anger, to occupy the mouth that wished to tell everyone to fuck off, instead of actually saying it and risk being scolded or ostracized. As Orbach states, the fat that came from angry eating has a symbolic meaning: fuck you.
Getting fat was a great way of saying ‘fuck you’ to everyone in the world: my mother and father, my brother, my teachers, the kids at school, the media, society, even my friends; most people wanted me to be thin. To me, being thin also meant being all the other things that girls are meant to be: quiet, nice, simple, sweet, agreeable, ignorant. (Orbach also discusses this later on in her book.) My fat became a physical manifestation of my desire to say ‘fuck you’ to sexism and misogyny, to second class citizenry, to rape culture, to heterosexism. Of course, as a teen, I had no idea. I just kept my anger in and punished myself for feeling so angry with food (denying or binging), cutting, seeking out bad relationships, and holding back from doing the things I really loved.
As an adult, I have been trying to reach into my childhood and dig out the pieces that make me a poorly functioning grown-up. This makes me beg the question: does my fat still serve its function? Part of me says yes, it does. It still is a protest against the diet and beauty industries that tell me I am not right if I’m not thin. When I go to the beach in my bikini, belly protruding, thighs full of cellulite, arms lined with stretch marks, it’s a proclamation: I will not hide. I will not cover up. I will live in my body, and fuck anyone who tells me I shouldn’t. I enjoy the looks on people’s faces when I wear a tight dress, or a bikini, or a crop top. I will admit that I am not always comfortable in tight or revealing clothes because sometimes the judgment is just too much. But on the days when I feel good in my skin and want to show it, my fat body is my rebellion against anyone who would tell me that I don’t deserve to feel sexy, confident, and proud.
Another part of me, though, says no. As Orbach puts it, I’ve given traits to my fat that I possess because I am too fearful to express them vocally. Does the fat itself satisfy the expression of my rebellion against body policing? Or is the real rebellion something that happens in my mind? Orbach suggests that once I understand that I became fat as a “response to mother, to society, to various situations,” I can remove the judgment that it is “good” or “bad,” and accept that it just is. This takes me back to my post about the compliment “you look so small:” these judgments of “good” or “bad” are tied why I view “small” as a compliment, and “big” as an insult. If I learn to see my fat as a response—instead of something that I am—I can change the way I respond to the situations that start me on a spiral of binging, depriving, exercising, dieting, and depression.
Even if I change my response to the situations that create a subconscious desire to be fat, I will never be the ideal. That I understand the ideal is just that and not something I should strive to be comes from reestablishing how I see my fat. My fat is not me. I am not my body. My body is a physical manifestation of myself. I know that regardless of my fat, I will always want to say ‘fuck you’ to the patriarchy and all its functions. I don’t know that I’ll be any more willing/able to vocalize my dissent if I change my perspective, but writing here and on loveyourrebellion.com has opened up new avenues of expression. I honestly think that my body will always be a ‘fuck you’ because I will always have so much ‘fuck you’ in me. It’s not something that’s dictated by my body, but rather myself. As long as I’m in it, my body is my rebellion.
Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
[TW: Body Shaming, Mention of Dieting]
I remember the first time my fat actress fears were realized in the form of a high school musical audition: I went out for the part of Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. After the initial vocal audition, most of the girls auditioning approached me to tell me they were sure I would get the part, and then the cold reading audition seemed to solidify that possibility. When the cast list was posted, I speculated the only reason I wasn’t cast as Miss Adelaide was because I was fat. I approached the drama teacher and asked her if that was indeed why, and she said—and I’ll never forget this—“Angela, you know that girl is nowhere near as talented as you, but people in this town just won’t believe a girl your size would be a burlesque dancer.” I left her classroom in tears. I was 17.
My next brush with the limitations placed on a fat performer came from a theatre professor at my community college. I looked up to her so much because she was the most inspiring director I’d worked under and, more importantly, she believed in my ability. I could tell she was pleased when she saw my weight start to drop from 200lbs to 190, to 180, to 175. When she noticed I hadn’t budged from 175lbs for a few weeks, she casually asked “Are you going to continue with your weight loss plan?” I didn’t really know what to say besides yes. When I left her office I realized she was trying to encourage weight loss so she could cast me as her leading lady or ingénue; then I’d be believable. I felt judged by my body. People would tell me that’s just the way the acting world is. I’d say that’s just the way the world is, and came to believe that I’d never be who I wanted to be as a performer (read: person) until I was thin.
I recently started reading Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach, and in the first chapter she offers some meanings of fatness. One of such is: “To be fat means having to wait until you are thin to live.” Living can be defined here in a number of ways: finding true love, getting to the height of your career, letting go on the dance floor, feeling confident, wanted, recognized. For me living means performing. My early experiences with the body constraints of musical theatre made me sweep any performance wants—specifically singing—under the rug. I focused on writing instead.
Writing has always been a part of my life, but after I quit acting, it became my central art form. I put all of myself into writing; I even went to grad school for it. Writing felt like a safe place for my voice—something I wanted to share with the world, but disembodied. It would be much easier to get people to listen to me, I thought, if they couldn’t see what I looked like. My writing is not submitted to journals with a full body shot. The only things measured are the words on the page.
The musicality of poetry resembled so closely what I wanted to do with my voice (sing) that it was enough—for a while. Still, I would have daydreams of being on stage. Acting had passed, but singing is in my blood. Both of my parents are trained singers so I was always encouraged to find music in my body, but the real world presented me with images of paper thin and/or taut muscled female singers, whether rock n’ roll or musical theatre.
Try to name five fat female rock n’ roll singers. I can name a few: Mama Cass, Ann Wilson, and more recently, Beth Ditto. They are not the norm, however, and they get a lot of nasty remarks about their bodies. The majority of what I saw growing up—my idols, the starlets of rock n’ roll—were thin, lean, and able bodied women (not to mention white, cis, and straight). Forget singing lessons, forget years of singing with a band, forget passion and the pure love of it; just look like Debbie Harry crossed with Courtney Love crossed with Tina Turner crossed with Joan Jett. Right. Got it.
This brings me back to one of Orbach’s meanings of fatness: I spent most of my life thinking I had to achieve a thin body to be the kind of performer people want to see, and moreover, can relate to. This belief prevented me from truly living, from being who I want to be. At the end of 2010, I decided that I needed to just do it. Just start a fucking band, and get my body on that stage. But when I thought about how vulnerable my body could be while playing guitar and singing—the way I could lose control, let my body sway, jump, stomp, pounce, fall, bend, and shake—it scared me to death. I was taught fat bodies aren’t flattered by the movement of rock n’ roll. I still felt that I needed to reform my body before I would really attain success. I’ve spent the last two years on bicycles, ellipticals, ab machines, and diets.
I believe in being strong. I believe in feeling capable. The last two years of exercise and dieting have shown me that is what is important, and that being strong and capable are not everyone’s goals/they mean different things to different people. I have just recently stopped dieting, and I vow to never diet again (with some help from Fat is a Feminist Issue). Now, I am a year on with my band, The Young Dead. The 3 men that play lead guitar, bass, and drums in the Young Dead don’t give shit what I look like. They care about the music I make, my passion, and the quality of the performance. It still takes courage for me to get on that stage let it all go—especially since I’m the only fat girl in my city’s music scene—but as Helene Cixous reminds me, “Woman must put herself into the text–as into the world and into history–by her own movement.” Getting on stage and facing my fear of being publicly fat is how I place myself into the world, the text, and history. My own movement means being fat and being a performer; my own movement means living.
Friday, April 13th, 2012
After speculation that her ‘puffy’ face was a sign that she’d undergone plastic surgery, Ashley Judd responded at the Daily Beast with what has been harkened as a kickass feminist essay, a comment on how patriarchy functions and a response to the Mentality of Patriarchy. And it’s received such a positive response from feminist* sites for a good reason: it’s a good, strong argument against the negative effects of patriarchy in general and the objectification of women in particular.
Of course, not only is it good, but, coming from someone who has been in the business for over twenty years – and who therefore has the ability to take this conversation to the media in a way that most feminists probably only wish they could emulate – it has the potential to bring this ongoing conversation to the forefront of popular culture. Until the next hot topic pops up, at least.
Jumping right into her commentary on the way in which women’s bodies are objectified, Judd opens the essay with the following:
The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.
Judd goes on to argue that patriarchy “is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it,” challenging the idea that patriarchy is simply the product of men’s subjugation of women and insisting, rather, that it’s a system in which we all take part, but which “privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women.”
If you’re like me, you’re reading all of this so far and thinking, ‘Yes, yes, YES!’ This is a feminist argument, there’s no denying that. And it’s great to hear it coming from someone on ‘the inside,’ as it were.
The response to Judd’s essay has been explosive enough that she’s been able to continue her conversation on a number of shows (according to the Jezebel article, within “the past 24-hours, Judd has appeared on the NBC Nightly News, Rock Center, The Today Show and Access Hollywood Live“) and as much as I would like to say that she’s done an absolutely amazing job of following through on her argument, this is, unfortunately, where it starts to fall apart for me.
The following is an excerpt of the conversation that Judd and the hosts had on Access Hollywood Live (the second video in the Jezebel article):
Billy Bush: Let me ask you this. Every time – often times – if a woman comes in – and let’s use, [I couldn't work out her name] was in the other day, I’ll use her as an example, she lost 50 pounds, said to her ‘wow, you’ve lost 50 pounds’ – she’s been open about it – ‘you look fantastic! God, you look great.’ Is that – that’s an objectification, in – to some degree. Is that okay? ‘cause I think most women, when you tell them ‘you’ve lost weight, boy, you look wonderful,’ they feel good about it – they like that.
Ashley Judd: And I believe that is one of the ways that it’s very cunning and insidious. Because it is a compliment, yet it’s a backhanded compliment. And, you know, when I hear…or see someone who’s carrying that kind of weight, what I think is that there’s probably some disordered eating, that there are health problems, that there’s self-esteem issues, that there – that, you know, that there’s a lot more than just the number on the scale.
I understand that I might be expecting a bit much from Judd – after all, this was an off-the-cuff question and she didn’t exactly have time to think about her response before giving it – but I find that her pathologisation of fat within the framework of a discussion about the damaging effects of the media’s focus on women’s bodies is, at best, highly problematic.
There’s also more than a hint of this same concern about fat within Judd’s essay:
Four: When I have gained weight, going from my usual size two/four to a six/eight after a lazy six months of not exercising, and that weight gain shows in my face and arms, I am a “cow” and a “pig” and I “better watch out” because my husband “is looking for his second wife.” (Did you catch how this one engenders competition and fear between women? How it also suggests that my husband values me based only on my physical appearance? Classic sexism. We won’t even address how extraordinary it is that a size eight would be heckled as “fat.”)
Within this paragraph, Judd is making a salient point about how weight gain is used as a weapon against women, with the media trying to tell them that they should feel insecure about themselves and, as she says herself, creating a sense of competition between women as a result.
But she also goes to great length to justify, or explain away, her weight gain, by saying that she just didn’t exercise for six months (which is “lazy”). And, while she makes the point that heckling a woman for being “fat” at a size eight is “extraordinary,” there’s something that I find troubling about her specificity in this instance. I wonder if, in light of her comment about weight on Access Hollywood Live, she would feel the same about a woman who was a size ten, or eighteen, or thirty-two? I admit, this is conjecture on my part – and perhaps it’s even unhelpful conjecture, insofar as it is attempting to go beyond what is said and therefore risks being completely off the mark – but there is an almost nervous repudiation of fat here that, again, I find troublingly problematic.
There is a similar distancing from fat in Judd’s closing paragraph, where she asks the question, “who makes the fantastic leap from being sick, or gaining some weight over the winter, to a conclusion of plastic surgery?” Again, the justification – It happened over winter! That happens to everyone! – makes for an odd bump in an otherwise smooth argument.
I don’t think that any of this makes Judd’s overall argument less worthy of the positive recognition that it has received. This is a conversation that needs to continue – and if Judd can use her celebrity to push this in the mainstream media, then all the power to her! She is clearly more then capable of making the points that need to be made; and she’s doing it within an overtly feminist framework, using words like “patriarchy” on talk shows and filling me with happiness along the way.
I can even understand that, as someone who has lived in the lime light for so long, she would have internalised issues about her weight. It makes sense!
I just wish that, when making the point that objectification “affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human being,” that she wasn’t simultaneously making comments about weight that reinforce the very same system that she’s set out to fight. Because this is not a conversation that should have any “buts” or “unlesses” attached to it.
* I’m only including this because, well, Jezebel…
Sunday, April 1st, 2012
THIS WEEK IN FATNESS…
- Michelle talks about listening to your body and finding fullness.
- What I like about Natalie‘s outfit post is the self-reflective discussion about her (dis)comfort in ‘showing off.’
- bronwenofhindscroft looks at the way in which a study about the relationship between chocolate and BMIs was discussed in the reporting of the results.
- Dr. Patty Thomas tries to set up a foundation for discussions about diversity in the fat acceptance movement.
- Ragen explains why “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” is a misnomer and suggests emailing them to explain why their fat shaming ad is irresponsible. (Details at the bottom of the post)
- Dr. Patty Thomas relays a request for interviews with people who have been told they are “pre-diabetic.”
…In the News
- Lesley discusses food hoarding over at XOJane. [warning: there's eating disorder talk]
- The Well-Rounded Mama discusses a study done with twins which reinforces the idea that dieting can make you fatter.
- Virginia Sole-Smith asks whether last week’s Vogue article about a woman forcing her 7-year-old to go on a diet reveals our fears about health or beauty.
…In the Spotlight
This week’s highlighted site is Fit Fatties, a site which is focused on creating a safe space for fat people who are interested in discussing fitness. According to the site’s description, “people of all sizes, ages, abilities, and activities have a place here.”
Sound like your kind of thing? Then check it out.
Please, email us your links, suggestions and feedback!
Sunday, March 18th, 2012
Hello and welcome to the first of what will hopefully be many installments of This Week In Fatness.
The fatosphere can seem like a big place* and – especially if you’re a bit short on time – it’s possible that you’re not able to keep up with all the great things that are being posted by fat activists and their supporters.
That’s where This Week in Fatness comes in!
The idea of this digest is to provide you with a collection of links to materials that I believe are stand-out examples of what’s happening in online fat activism from week to week. There’ll be a particular focus on blog posts, but it’s my hope that the content – and the format – will be shaped with your feedback in mind. So, please make sure you use the email at the bottom of these posts to share your links, events, websites and ideas.
Without further ado, let’s get into this, the first installment, of…
THIS WEEK IN FATNESS…
- After visiting Independence Hall in Philadelphia, The Fat Chick was inspired to write this Declaration of Body Independence
- Ragen, of Dances with Fat, breaks down some common misconceptions about the connection between obesity and bad health while suggesting that Jumping to Conclusions is Not Great Exercise.
- Fall Ferguson discusses what “health” actually means in the “Health at Every Size” paradigm over at The Association for Size Diversity and Health blog.
- Atchka would like to bring to your attention some amazing athletes, who also happen to be fat.
- The Fat Nutritionist critques a study on the evils of red meat.
- Red No. 3 highlighted a response to white fat activism from People of Color in the fat justice movement.
NOTE: I’m not on Tumblr. I don’t really get Tumblr. So this is an area where I am particularly relying on you all to let me know about relevant materials.
- The Well-Rounded Mama highlighted this survey being conducted about plus size women’s experiences with maternity care providers.
- Ragen is preparing a slideshow for iVillage called “Pictures of Health – Diet Quitters” and she wants you to get involved. She’s also calling for submissions for a “The Moment I Knew I HAD to Stop Dieting” video project (check the bottom of each post for details)
…In the News
…In the Spotlight
This week I want to highlight The Adiopositivity Project, which is an ongoing photography project that “aims to promote size acceptance, not by listing the merits of big people, or detailing examples of excellence (these things are easily seen all around us), but rather, through a visual display of fat physicality.” Check it out. [Possibly NSFW]
AAAAAAND that’s it for the first installment of This Week in Fatness. I hope you find this to be a useful and educational project and that it continues to grow from here.
Please, email us your links, suggestions and feedback!
* Pun completely unintended, but clearly appropriate.
Sunday, January 29th, 2012
I was reading this article that Doc Samantha tweeted earlier. And after reading Coddington’s argument that I’m fat because I’m incapable of taking responsibility for my own actions, it finally clicked for me. I looked at that photo of yet another headless fatty and
wished that my skin was that blemish-free and I was less pale and, oh, wait… I had a moment of clarity. An epiphany, if you will!
Right here and right now, I want to declare to the world that, all potentially contributing factors aside:
I am fat and I take personal responsibility for that!
Wow. I mean, really…wow. That was a cathartic moment for me. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – only not literally, of course, because I’m still fat. Haha!
The fact is, whether I take personal responsibility for my fatness or not has no material effect on my fatness. I suppose it could, if it then lead on to me making changes to my life that could potentially cause weight loss (although previous experience with exercise regimes and diets tends to suggest otherwise), but that’s really another matter entirely. The act of accepting personal responsibility in and of itself is really inconsequential; it doesn’t mean anything.
Coddington clearly doesn’t agree with this. According to her, if I were not to accept personal responsibility for my fatness, it would have to be because I’m “mentally incapable of choosing what’s right and wrong when it comes to putting food in [my] mouth.” Further, she goes on to sugest that, as a fat person, I’m obviously “too dumb to discern healthy food from bad food” and I must be blaming my fatness on the idea that I’ve been “brainwashed” into wanting bad food by “big institutions and the market.” Because if I were accepting personal responsibility for my fatness, obviously I wouldn’t be fat.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment. I mean, if you’re fat like me, you’re going to need the extra time, amirite!? *badum tish*
I hope you’re not getting the wrong impression about Coddington as you read this
vitriolic tirade well-reasoned argument. She cares.
Every day, in every town and city, we all see fat people waddling along, heaving themselves into planes and cars, but are we allowed to comment on this, the way we were encouraged to shame smokers into quitting (who also cost taxpayers dearly in terms of the public health bill)?
Do you see what I mean? She only has your best interest at heart, because she doesn’t want to see you being a public health nuisance by…uhm…blowing your fatty breath into other people’s faces? Knocking other people over as you waddle about the place? Infecting others with your zombie-like compliance to eating unhealthy food when you mistake them for food and try to eat them?
Coddington isn’t saying anything new here – and neither are the numerous commenters voicing support for her. I think that in and of itself is rather telling, because it gets down to the heart of what “taking responsibility” for your fatness really seems to mean: that is, they want you to accept that you’re bringing these negative comments on yourself by being fat.
You are fat, ergo, it’s your fault that Coddington and her ilk feel the need – nay, the responsibility – to all but chase you down the street screaming “FATTY FAT STUPID FATTY!!” at you as you go. Because, guys, to do anything else would simply be “patronising and silly,” which would basically be putting academics out of business. And do you want to cost people even more money!? God, what is wrong with you!?
Of course, it would be a bit problematic for you to just stop eating all that food that you’re endlessly shoving down your gob. I mean, obviously we wouldn’t want anyone to think that “the food industry [is] conspiring to make us obese,” because that would just be stupid! So what if we’re increasingly inundated with advertising that tries to tell us that the only way we can be happy is to be good little consumers – and that advertising for fast food in particular tends to push the unrealistic notion that you can all but live on a diet of [insert brand here] while prancing around on at the beach with your equally attractive and svelte friends. Never mind that fast food is generally a lot cheaper, more accessible and easier to deal with when you’re running against the clock. Because the ever-increasing proliferation of these things doesn’t mean that the food industry is trying to make us obese! Duh. It’s just trying to get as much money out of us as possible – and these are entirely different things!
Jeez, stop being so stupid, fatties.
As Coddington says, “individuals need to be held accountable and stop blaming food and its makers for their problem.” And, I’ve gotta tell you, all of this taking on of personal responsibility has sure made me work up an appetite! I think I’m going to go and grab myself some Burger King. Or maybe some McDonalds.
I could totally go some KFC…
I’ll just go wherever’s closest, because I am feeling especially lazy today.
See you later!