Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

The Big Fat Carnival Comes to Body Impolitic

It’s the Big Fat Carnival!! No. 4 to be precise. We are so proud to be hosting this carnival, which was created by our favorite ringmaster, Ampersand. Our theme is fat celebration! Acceptance is perfectly well and good, but celebration is what we all need.

Let’s start by visiting not a blog post but an entire blog. At least seven or eight different women at BlogHer mentioned this site to us; we had already seen and blogged it. Bonnie opens the door on the deep dark secrets about what pregnancy and post-partum bodies look like, and the results are a joy to behold.

Becoming a mother changes everything in your world – including your body. Here we share images of our bodies during and after pregnancy so we can see what real women look like.

Celebration is the theme in I love my body posted at All Girl Army. Adrienne is clearly a world-class celebrator:

I, for one, gave up hiding beneath sheets and behind curtains at the age of five. I do exist. And I love my body.

I want clothing that shows that. I want shirts that hug my breasts and waist. I want pants that fit in the waist, hips, and butt. I want to have a selection of flattering dresses, enough suits to look professional when necessary.

People say, “but you can order online. You have Lane Bryant. You have Torrid. Can’t you just sew something?” Or even, “have you tried losing a little weight, fatty?”

My sister doesn’t have to. Neither do any of my friends. Why should I?

picture of Chupoo Alafonte from Women En Large

Fat-celebrating novelist and poet Susan Stinson pointed us to her account of the NoLose Flea Market in New York City, a lively account of friends and fashion. However, she did not point us to this gloriously sensual poem which is even better (and too good to excerpt; read the whole thing).

And our guest blogger Lynne Murray got pretty celebratory herself, with How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fat:”

If the body were the Starship Enterprise, which crew member would fat be? One of specialist “engine room” crew members–like “Scotty” Scott in the original Star Trek, or Geordi La Forge in The Next Generation, monitoring the dilithium crystals that power the ship, reinforcing the hull against cold and external attack, and keeping the engines running in the best of times and the worst of times.

fat pirate ceramic:Hurricane Kate

Then there are posts we just want to celebrate, like this perfect rant from Navelgazing Midwife. Here’s just one taste:

An ideal OB/GYN office visit would NOT make fat women feel like shit or blame every ailment from hangnail to cancer on their fat. Any discussion of weight loss or fat-related illnesses can be precipitated with, “I know you are aware you weigh more than what medical research feels is healthy, do you have any questions that might include discussing your weight?” If the woman says she does not. DROP IT.

The celebration of the scholar is a different kind of celebration altogether. Chameleon at Redemption Blues describes herself as an “academic class traitor,” and she clearly kept the academic frame of mind. Her extraordinarily thorough analysis of current British moral attitudes toward childhood obesity is a treasure trove for scholars and activists alike. The rousing ending, in part quoted from Hillel Schwartz’ Never Satisfied, tells you where the analysis leads:

If we really want sanity to be our guiding principle when it comes to feeding our children we would be well-advised to translate Schwartz’ Utopian musing into practical policy in the here and now: “In a fat society, children would be fed and fed well when hungry. When they were fed, they would be satisfied, because there would be no snares laid around food. Feeding would be calm and loving, always sufficient, never forced. Children as they grew into adolescents would acquire no eating disorders, since fat people and thin people would be on equal terms and there would be none of that anxious dieting which so often starts off the career of an anorectic or bulimic. No one would be obsessed with food because all people would have the opportunity to be powerful and expressive beyond the dining table.”

a 'naughty postcard' from early in the 20th century

Moral panic about fat clearly extends past the doctor’s office. Michelle on Peggynature wrote quite a letter to the Daily Mail in response to a nasty editorial about taxing fat.

“I also make a point of challenging bigotry, particularly when cloaked in bogus concern for my health. Your rant is not about health; being the focus of contempt, derision and disgust expressed by strangers in positions of power and influence is scarcely beneficial or conducive to anyone’s wellbeing. This is about making simplistic value judgments based on aesthetics. Plenty of thin people eat all manner of garbage and wouldn’t go to the gym if you paid them. They also snort coke, sink eight or nine pints in one sitting and have unsafe sex with folk whose names they don’t know and about whose sexual history they know sweet FA. Are you planning to tax them?”

And here’s the celebration: They came to take her picture and they (at least planned to run) her letter as the lead-off on the letters page! I hope she updates and tells us what happened.

two glamorous 1920s women, one fat

The staunch and reliable Big Fat Blog has a post right up our, and particularly Laurie’s alley, on the subject of Fat and Art, linking to a very thoughtful piece from the New Statesman. (Registration is required; the bugmenot registration-avoiding link is on the BFB page.) Here’s a quotation from the article:

The corpulent body has become artistic shorthand for our flabby consumer lifestyle.

It was not always so. Some of the earliest known sculptures – such as the magnificently rotund Venus of Willendorf, which dates back to roughly 24,000BC, and the Venus of Berekhat Ram, which is 230,000 years old – are lovingly carved stone figurines of female torsos with exaggerated breasts, buttocks and bellies.

This, of course, is connected to our post Colette’s Weight and Erica Jong’s Issues, which takes on how people (including feminists) of our time try to overlay our own culture’s craziness onto the past.

“How dare they claim that Colette wasn’t gorgeous? And how dare they even imply, let alone state, that you have to be extraordinarily sexy to overcome being fat? What’s with these two contemporary women trying to put one of the sexiest women of her time on a diet?”

We need to write to mo pie at Big Fat Deal and get permission to use her movie review format. This particular review is of Sideways, and it’s excellent: “It’s nice to see a naked fat chick on screen enjoying herself in bed.”

The review format is even better than the review. Categories include Stereotypes, Fat Jokes, and Rating on the Offense-O-Meter. Seriously, mo pie, may we?

Queen T'hisha from Women En large

To wrap up this particular carnival celebration, we direct you to Nalo Hopkinson, fiction writer extraordinaire with the holy grail for fat women. Really. This is the single most practical fat-related blog I have ever seen.

No more chafing thighs! … It’s silicone in a powder-gel form. It dries in seconds, it’s colourless and unscented, it lets skin breathe, and it doesn’t wear off. Let me say that again. The gel doesn’t wear off until I wash it off. Understand that I can reduce the inner seams of a pair of corduroys to gauze in weeks, just by walking around in them. But the silicone gel doesn’t budge. It is so bloody astonishing to not be gasping in extra layers of protective cloth in hot weather, to feel air on my legs in summer again.

Yes, complete with purchasing instructions. Debbie’s buying some, and we bet most of our fat readers will too. Think of the present-giving possibilities.

We’re grateful to Ampersand and Meloukhia for pointing us to posts they didn’t write, and to the folks who submitted their own terrific posts.

The Big Fat Carnival’s fifth edition will be hosted by I Hate People on October 3rd, 2006. Submit your blog article to the next edition using our carnival submission form.











16 Responses to “The Big Fat Carnival Comes to Body Impolitic”

  1. Ampersand says:

    Wow! Great job! Thank you!

    This will keep me busy reading for a while….

  2. Patsy Nevins says:

    Thank you so much for this! It is so needed. We need so badly to be out & proud of ourselves, to not just grudginly accept that we are fat, tolerate it with gritted teeth, &/or bow our heads in shame & agree that we are bad & unhealthy because some jackass with letters after his name says so, as I see so many people doing in posts on fat acceptance sites. We need to KNOW that we are good, beautiful, worthy, that we are & can be as whole & healthy, long-lived, functional & contributing in this culture as anyone, that the myths & stereotypes about us are not true, & that we do not, to borrow from Marilyn Wann, need to apologize for our size!! We need the courage, the self-esteem, & confidence to look those who would wipe us from the face of the earth squarely in the eye & say “NO!” to all their hatred & greed-motivated attempts to “fix” us & do all we can to encourage others to do the same.

    Celebrate the beauty, the worth, the power, of all bodies of ALL sizes & shapes! Love the person you are, live your life the way that is right for YOU, & speak your own truth!

    Thanks, Laurie & Debbie, & thank you to all of us who do speak the truth & claim & celebrate our bodies & our beauty. I look forward to doing a lot of reading & learning here.

  3. Wow. Even a quick skim through all this is amazing — and the visuals are extraordinary, which is no surprise but nothing to take for granted, either.

    And how completely lovely that you linked to Peaches in July. That, and your praise, makes me beam.

  4. Lynne Murray says:

    I haven’t seen so many lovely and tasty items all in one place since the Breakfast Buffet at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel! Thank you (also thank you for allowing me to participate by providing a homemade nutbread dish). It will take me a few days to go through and enjoy all these, and already I can see it will be an enjoyable few days!

  5. How awesome that you blogged Adrienne at our allgirlarmy project! She’ll be so thrilled. Thanks! :)

    (Been meaning to ping you for a while, too, we have a friend in common in Elise Matthesen, and I’ve been in awe of your work for years.)

  6. Buffpuff says:

    Actually, ’twas I, (Buffpuff from the Big Fat Blog community), and not the lovely Peggynature, who wrote the featured letter to UK journalist, Giles Coren, in response to his notion that fat people should be taxed – though Michelle was kind enough to post it on her site.

    Although they published the most flattering photo anyone’s taken of me in years, the Daily Mail also précised my letter down to 160 words – few of them mine – effectively rendering it a genteel complaint from a nice, middle-class fat lady who was just ever so slightly cross, (as opposed to the madder-than-hell-and-I’m-not-gonna-take-it-any-more snarkfest I originally sent them). But, hey, I’m thrilled to tiny, twinkly little pieces that it’s ended up on here!!

    Bows, graciously accepts large bouquet of roses from conductor and exits, stage left, smiling from ear to ear…

  7. Debbie says:

    Well-deserved roses indeed, Buffpuff! Meanwhile Laurie and I grovel, kiss your undoubtedly beautiful toes, and promise to publish a public correction within the week.

  8. Made me grateful for my doctor, who, when she sees me for my check-ups has never bothered me about my weight. Guess there is a reason she has a closed practice while the thin generalist down the hall can’t keep patients.

  9. unhealthy not beautiful im not saing you need to be a size 2 to be attractive and its important to feel good in your self but please let your self respect extend to your health and not just your looks, its important people like you are around for a long time!!!!!

  10. Richard says:

    This world is filled with images of so called beauty, and it is not unusual that much of this is focused upon images of women, after all, women are vastly more interesting to look at, and their bodies have so many zones of exquisite interest.
    A woman may have a boney skinny body of little visual interest, but still present the most beautiful face and shoulders or hands or feet.
    I have noticed that ugly women are very rare indeed, and that nature has made it quite obvious why this should be so.
    In the scheme of things, men are pretty unimportant, so long as there are enough of them around to inseminate, hunt, carry rocks and chase away wild animals, the women folk are able to get along just fine.
    The problem is this; man is a simplistic creature who concentrates upon one thing at a time and must be motivated to do anything at all, therefore women must appeal to him one way or another ( proof of this is obvious in: one man is a “boobs man” another a “toosh man” a “Leg man” etc) , so nature (who some say is a woman) made every part of every woman a seperate erotic zone of it’s own, thus catching the simplistic male, no matter what area he happened to spot and in whatever order.
    I believe that this is why, the larger (within reason) a woman becomes, the more curvacious and beautiful she looks. Fat men, on the other hand, begin to look rather like overgrown babies.

  11. Laurie says:

    Richard,

    I think beauty comes in a lot of different visuals.

    Fat men don’t look infantile at all to me. They have their own beauty.
    And like fat women it is frequently a more varied beauty. If you look at some of the photos in the” Familiar Men” gallery you’ll see what I mean (or at least how I express it).

    And clearly I find men far more complex than you do.

  12. Lynne Murray says:

    I just found a quote from Susan Sontag that blew me away, speaking of Diane Arbus’ photographs, she wrote that some of the Arbus subjects, dwarfs and mental patients are “pathetic, pitiable, as well as repulsive” [yet they] “appear cheerful, self-accepting, matter-of-fact.” She wondered, “Do they know how grotesque they are? It seems as if they don’t.”

    I’m suspecting that the “grotesque” people involved, unless they were totally zoned out, did get some messages like that from the people around them. I’d be more shocked at Sontag’s cruelty if I hadn’t had more conventional-looking people tell me, as a compliment and a form of gratitude for my encouraging them: “If YOU can have self-confidence, maybe I can too.”

    I haven’t studied Arbus’ work in depth, but I know that for those of us who vary too far from the current mainstream ideal it is wise indeed to appear cheerful whenever possible (and appropriate! Sometimes cheerfulness is neither achievable nor useful!), self-accepting and matter-of-fact. Whatever judgments people may place on my not assuming the proper groveling posture are theirs and theirs alone.

    [Sontag was quoted by Peter Schejeldahl reviewing Diane Arbus at the Met, The New Yorker, March 21, 2005, p. 78-80]

  13. Burl says:

    People are people! As long as we laugh and have a good time whats the big deal about size or looks? I honestly couldnt tell you if any of my friends were “beautiful,thin,fat,old or young looking” because I look beyond that to what they are inside!

  14. sarah says:

    i truly believe that it doesn’t matter how big someone is they are the same as any one else and me myself i used to be chubby now im a size 12 to be honist i miss who i used to be admitibly i was bullied alot cause i was “fat” but in away it was protecting me i admire the girls who love themselves of how they are the ones who dont care what people think about there size.

  15. Lee says:

    Just found this, as they say better late than never so here is my 2 cents worth. First off as a man I have always preferred the company of large ladies, they seem to be so much more laid back and less emotional about irrelevant little things, not to mention the fact they make very eager lovers. That said, we can move on to the fact that the advertising industry in this country has literally trashed the concept of anything but the thin or muscular appearance of the human body. That is absurd when you go out and look at the general population of the country. We thrive on the consumption of fast food, junk food, snacks, and beverages that pack on the pounds that this same advertising group exhorts us to spend our money on. Is this not the most foolish conflict of interests one has ever encountered?? Now, with that aside, I also know that some obesity is genetic in nature no matter what type of food is consumed and for that there is little that can be done unless I have missed out on some revolutionary new medical miracle. Let me finish by saying to all you large ladies out there that you have at least one true admirer and supporter here and may you always have pleasant days and a warm gentle wind at your backs.

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