Monthly Archives: August 2006

Imaginary Solutions for Imaginary Fat Girls

Lynne Murray writes:

I started out to write about how we have this “let’s fix it” mentality around real health issues and I went looking for a great country western song, “The Talkin’ Song Repair Blues” by Alan Jackson.

But I got sidetracked on Amazon (which now sells cosmetics? Don’t get me started!) when I saw a product called FatGirlSlim by Bliss. Okay, the words Fat Girl got my attention. As Groucho used to say, “I resemble that remark.” ”

I’m sure the words “fat girl” mean something different to me than they do to the fatphobic women buying this product.

It’s a “slimming cream.” Yeah. Uh-huh.

Turns out it’s a cream. (WARNING: This link will take you into the belly of the beast of fat-fear, so go there at your own risk.) The cream contains caffeine to rub into your thighs and make cellulite disappear. Yeah. Uh-huh. And I’m not even going to talk about using a “bliss stimulator” on your cellulite.

On the Amazon site we find six blissful testimonials from FatGirlSlim users, who found their thighs got all tingly and looked better after the thigh-owners paid $25 for six ounces of cream and rubbed it on their thighs daily.

I could be wrong, but my guess is that women who target cellulite are less likely to be what I would call fat and more likely to be average-size women with fears of fat in some particular area of their bodies. I say this because when women I wouldn’t call fat bemoan how fat they are, they often zero in on one particular area with the fantasy that a cream will make it all better. Many (if not most) of the cellulite-fearing are nowhere close to fat by any sane measurement. Their imaginary “inner fat girl” is sometimes being addressed here.

I wonder if these women are only allowing themselves to massage their “unacceptable” bodies if and when they pay $25 for a “magic” cream that will “firm” their thighs. Otherwise would they ever think about touching their thighs in a gentle manner? If they thought about it, would they allow themselves to do it?

Of course, they will feel better (as one does when massaged, whether by oneself or others). Getting in touch with one’s body is good, but it’s so sad to have to pay so much money for a few cents worth of cream and sadder still to have to assume a judgmental attitude in order to touch one’s own body at all.

Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun, a source of common sense on many silly subjects in the beauty business, nails this strange hysteria about cellulite to the wall in her Report.

I adore Begoun’s reviews of some of the products that cosmetics companies create in order to coin money over this anxiety, for example the anti-cellulite sneakers by MBT ($234 for 1 pair) advertised in the Bliss catalogue.

“This takes the award for the most flagrant, misleading, and disingenuous ad copy I’ve ever seen–well, at least for this year. I know, it can always get worse. Bliss puts it this way: “Like an invisible personal trainer, they subtly strengthen and engage, increasing precious blood flow to ‘problem areas’ every moment you have them on…. They tone muscles, better your balance, improve posture, help varicose veins and … have been known to swiftly sack cellulite. One British reporter measured a 50% reduction in a month.”

Bliss doesn’t offer any explanation of how these shoes can possibly do this (versus any other running or walking shoe), nor do they quote research or any form of medical proof, give the name of the anonymous reporter (but she’s British so that must count for something), or even suggest how you’re supposed to use these shoes. Can you just sit in them and watch your cellulite dwindle? Or do you have to jog? Or is walking okay, and does it count on a StairMaster? Do you have to wear them every day, once a week, when you exercise, or just any old time?

Do I really have to state that these shoes can’t do what’s promised any better than any other exercise shoe? That there are women willing to plop down $234 for these shoes makes me wonder if people will ever be able to tell fact from fantasy in the world of beauty.

Um, that would be a “not never–well, hardly ever” on the fantasy from reality question. Fantasy is what’s for sale. (I’ve got to say though, I was intrigued by the idea of an “Invisible Personal Trainer” in the shoe catalogue copy: sort of like a cross between an imaginary friend and an imaginary drill sergeant.)

In her product review section, Begoun also takes apart anti-cellulite “fashion hosiery” ($15 a pair), containing a chemical that also is prescribed as “a bronchodilator used to treat the symptoms of asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.” Just reading about it I’m starting to hyperventilate without even touching the product! Not that they would make anti-cellulite fashion hosiery in my size anyway; it’s strictly for the anxious average-sized woman who wants to banish the imaginary fat girl within.

Oops! I never did get to discuss how the we-can-fix-it attitude relates to the way we look at our bodies. Another time!

fat, size acceptance, cosmetics, cellulite, Paula Begoun, Lynne Murray, Body Impolitic

In Memoriam: Tee Corinne

Debbie says:

Readers of this weblog know that Tee Corinne was a close personal friend of Laurie’s and a much-admired acquaintance of mine.

She died Sunday, August 27, 2006. Details are here.

Very few women of our times, or any times, have done more for women’s appreciation of our bodies than Tee. Others are writing beautifully about all the different ways she supported Lesbians, Lesbian art, and various forms of feminism. I appreciate all of this; to me, however, especially in the context of Body Impolitic, she will always remain one of the key heroes who freed women of my generation to have cunts, to look at our own cunts, and to love our cunts.

Thank you, Tee. Your work lives on in my cunt.

Tee Corinne, feminism, Lesbian, Lesbian art, cunt, Body Impolitic