Category Archives: Size Acceptance

Themed Links: Fat and Size Acceptance

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Debbie says:

I have a very long links list, and it struck me that several of them are about fat acceptance which (of course) is how Laurie and I got started doing this work. So today I present you with a themed links list, starting with

Fat Heffalump’s example of actual good positive marketing by J.C. Penney, directed at and featuring fat women.

I am not ashamed to admit that this made me cry.  In a good way I mean.  I was just so overjoyed to see how fat women are represented in this video, I burst into tears.  Which is really saying something.  I don’t cry about fat stuff any more.  None of it ever reaches me emotionally – I’ve grown so jaded and frustrated at the way we’re portrayed, the way nobody has listened to us, the way businesses insult and disrespect us and then expect us to give them our money.  I’ve never felt represented by marketing that was supposed to be aimed at me, and certainly not by the media.

But this… this is everything I’ve been banging on about for YEARS, trying to get brands and marketing to understand.  That they can market to us in a positive, aspirational way that INCLUDES us.  That says “We see you, and here are some products that we’ve got for you.  We’d like you to shop with us.”

I do understand people can be hurt and/or offended by the implicit expectation that all fat women/people should love our bodies. I completely respect that position and I want it to be part of the discourse. At the same time, I’m with Fat Heffalump in deeply appreciating honest talk from corporate America about how hard it is to be fat and how (some) people can — with support — find a way to be happy with that. I also especially appreciate that this commercial is diverse, and that the women are truly fat: this isn’t your 160-pound white girl celebration of fat power.

***

In the department of “no one should have to be told this,” Aimée Lutkin at Jezebel reports on how previous Playmate Dani Mathers first posted a nasty anti-fat picture and then recanted. I’m not going to reproduce the photo; you can see it at the link if you want. I will say that Mathers apparently captioned it “If I can’t unsee this than you can’t either.

Her walkback, as quoted by Lutkin, is also less than stellar, including: “That photo was taken to be a personal conversation with a girlfriend, and because I am new to Snapchat, I didn’t realize that I had posted it and that was a huge mistake.”

Maybe Mathers should be watching the J.C. Penney commercial above?

Although Mathers’ picture was not headless, it seems like a useful time to remind people of Dr. Charlotte Cooper’s 2007 essay on headless fatties, which someone I read linked to recently.

It’s quite bizarre, fat people are in the news all the time, almost constantly; “Obesity” returns more than twice as many Google News hits as “Madonna.” But we are presented as objects, as symbols, as a collective problem, as something to be talked about. Unless we play the game and parrot oppressive, self-hating, medicalised views about fat, fat people’s own voices, feelings, thoughts and opinions about what it is to be fat are entirely absent from the discourse. Because of this, we are currently unable to capitalise on the allure a fat body holds to viewers and readers, and this will probably continue as long as we are disenfranchised beings.

As Headless Fatties, the body becomes symbolic: we are there but we have no voice, not even a mouth in a head, no brain, no thoughts or opinions. Instead we are reduced and dehumanised as symbols of cultural fear: the body, the belly, the arse, food. There’s a symbolism, too, in the way that the people in these photographs have been beheaded. It’s as though we have been punished for existing, our right to speak has been removed by a prurient gaze, our headless images accompany articles that assume a world without people like us would be a better world altogether.

***

Dr. Ashley Kasardo has an excellent piece at the HAES® files on “Fat Talk as a Microaggression”:

Microaggressions are subtle, often brief exchanges, intentional or not, that send denigrating messages to individuals due to their group membership. For example:

  • “She’s so fat- it’s unhealthy.” Equates fat with being unhealthy, which is untrue. Assumes one’s health based on physical appearance. …
  • “You’re not fat- you’re beautiful.” Equates attractiveness with the thin ideal. Sends the message that fat and beauty are mutually exclusive. Bashes fat as a descriptor and makes it difficult for someone to own fatness as a part of their identity without derogation.
  • “I’m not eating that- I don’t want to get fat.” Makes eating a moral choice- you’re good or bad if you eat certain foods. Equates eating certain food with getting fat, or the idea that if you just act “right” you can control your weight. This isn’t the case for many, especially considering the role of genetics and one’s individual fat set point in their body.  Research shows fat people do not eat more compared to anyone else.
  • “You look amazing- you’ve lost weight.” Reinforces the thin ideal. Correlates worth with appearance- but we are more than our bodies. Reinforces the body as an object as well as fear of fat. … Complimenting weight loss or criticizing weight gain carry assumptions regarding weight and health that aren’t accurate.

Kasardo goes on to make some suggestions and recommend some reading material. In one way, I think it’s obvious that fat talk is a microaggression, and yet I don’t think I would have thought or said that so clearly if I hadn’t seen Kasardo’s piece.

***

Let’s close with fascinating fat science (and discount the required anti-fat moralizing that goes with it). Samoans get a lot of bad press for being fat, and I found this peek into the reasons–by George Dvorsky at io9–fascinating:

Starting around 3,500 years ago, ancestors of Samoans began the arduous task of settling the 24 major island groups of Polynesia. This colonization process—one of the most extreme examples in all of human history—took possibly thousands of years to complete. “They had to endure voyages between islands and subsequently survive on those islands,” study co-author Ryan Minster told New Scientist.

As Darwin pointed out many years ago, evolution requires long timescales. But in some instances, when environmental conditions are particularly severe and attritional, selectional processes accelerate the process—an evolutionary phenomenon dubbed “punctuated equilibrium” by the late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.

Make your own decision about reading the rest, because it does have the obligatory (microaggressive!) critique of Samoan diet and concern trolling about Samoan health. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that Samoan genetics have such a heroic history.

The Fat Heffalump link is from mildredlouise. Otherwise, links are from my regular reading, which includes Feministe, Shakesville, Sociological Images, Feministing, io9, and TakePart, along with other sources.

It’s July! Let’s Have Some Links

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Debbie says:

In 1998 when Camryn Manheim was up for an Emmy, which she won. Designers lined up to make her dress, like they do (or did?) for Emmy nominees. Manheim, ever the fat activist, refused to take an offer from any designer who didn’t otherwise make plus-size clothes.

leslie-jones-768Leslie Jones, star of the upcoming Ghostbusters remake, complained on Twitter and found a designer, Christian Siriano, to make a gown for her. At least some of the fashion press thinks this is Jones’ fault. Kara Brown reports from Jezebel:

Pret-a-Reporter talked to Hollywood stylists who perfectly exemplified the stereotypes of the thin-obsessed, catty, narcissistic fashion industry.

 In addition to arguing that designers who have complete control over what sizes they make and still only produce the smallest sizes available do not have a size bias, stylist Jeanne Yang suggests that it would be a financial burden to create a new dress for a woman starring in what will likely be one of the biggest movies of the summer and who will soon be snapped thousands of times on the red carpet. …
It sucks that Jones had to complain on Twitter to get a nice dress to wear and that Christian Siriano was the only designer to step up, but hopefully he will do her right and she’ll show up on the carpet looking like a queen and making those fools wish they weren’t such brats.

All I can say is “Still? After all these years?”

***

In the class of “how was this ever not true?” towards the end of June New York City passed a law providing tampons and pads to all women in public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities.  As Mattie Kahn said at Elle:

New York City is leading the crusade to free women from shelling out for a public health imperative. No one is forcing high schoolers to pay for toilet paper, dudes! 

“Tampon taxes” are going away, but seriously: how did anyone ever think that supplying menstrual products was not a necessary thing?

***

Medium went to Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal to show us a biting overview of how female firsts are covered, from Amelia Earhart to Hillary Clinton. Hint:  the woman’s accomplishments are often not given any credit. Here’s just one of my favorites:

December, 1903, OSLO, Norway — “Ignoring voice vote, rigged Nobel Prize committee hands award to Marie Curie.”

Bee also cites reports about Billie Jean King, Sally Ride, and … Joan of Arc! Sadly not surprising, but well worth the two-minute read.

***

I really liked B.A. Beasley’s essay at The Toast on genderqueer parenting:

You see, there’s no such thing as a parent. We only have mothers and fathers.

Here’s what I don’t mean: I don’t mean that women and men are hardwired to parent differently. I don’t even mean that the social construction of gender is so overpowering that overcoming motherhood or fatherhood is difficult for individual parents. I mean the social category of parent just doesn’t seem to exist.

I say this despite the fact that my social world is filled with people who are deeply invested in egalitarian parenthood. I personally know inspirations in the realm of splitting reproductive labor. They are not doing it wrong.

But all the good people in the world making all the right decisions about sharing, pitching in, and helping each other out can’t fix the fact that every form you complete, every book you read, every law you face, every policy you confront has two categories: mothers and fathers.

There’s a lot more: very thoughtful and some of it very personal. If the topic interests you, read the whole thing.

***

Discussing a different aspect of families, social circles, and social expectations, Amalthea Aelwyn at Queen of the Chaos Circle wrote a long, detailed advice column for the families and friends of people with autoimmune diseases. Her piece has over twenty bullet points of things to think about and do: here’s just one that struck me.

  • She will already be her own worst critic. In her head, she will most likely be struggling to avoid chewing herself out regularly.   Nothing you can say will possibly be as harsh as she is on herself.  So she needs you to be especially careful of the things you say to her, and how you say them.  It’s okay to have your own feelings, and to express feelings, but you always have a choice in how you say something. There is a big difference between grumpily demanding “why do I have to stop eating wheat (candy or whatever else), just because you’re sick all the time!?” and saying “I wish there was a way to make you better, so we wouldn’t both have to skip candy and soda.” The first statement becomes an attack on a person who can’t help that she has this problem. The second statement is a way to express your frustration in a way that shows you care about her, and know that she misses those things too. It is even okay to be mad at her disease, but it’s not okay to take that mad out on her. Tell her that you are mad at her disease, too, if you want. But don’t yell at her for it. She can’t help it.

I have both family and several friends with autoimmune diseases. I found this a hard read, the kind I sometimes push against saying either, “That’s not fair to me!” or “But I already do that!” in my head, which usually means it’s things I need to hear. I’ll come back to it again and again when I need it.

***

Finally, Casey Chan at Sploid features an adults-only video by SuperDeluxe that takes those of us who want to go there (not for everyone) through a sex-doll factory:

Being inside a sex doll factory and watching all that plastic nakedness get shaped is much more haunting than it is titillating. It gets unsettling, like if you were trapped inside a scene from a horror movie and couldn’t get out. But it’s also somewhat intriguing, just to see the mixture of products and body parts that they put together in a puzzle to shape a doll.

The queer parenting link is from zulu. Otherwise, links are from my regular reading, which includes Feministe, Shakesville, Sociological Images, Feministing, io9, and TakePart, along with other sources.