Category Archives: Body image

Living in Weimar 4: Ideal Bodies


Living in Weimar 1: On the Brink

Living in Weimar 2: Creative Ferment

Living in Weimar 3: How Bad Can It Get?


Laurie and Debbie say:

When we think (if we must) about fascism, one thing we think about is the Nazi idealized body. The image of the young, fit, blond, blue-eyed Aryan, with the prominent cheekbones and athletic frame was not created by Hitler and his cronies. Instead, they took a well-known European romantic trope which had been built over the previous centuries, and made it into a fascist wet dream.

A contemporary Aryan site, proudly featuring a swastika in its header, yields this quotation (under a picture which graphs the ratios of a “perfect” face:

Just as the NSDAP inner circle was far from flawless in physical appearance, we have no objection at all to physically unremarkable non-Jews joining us. But this does not mean we should set no standard for appearance as a racial ideal, as some other movements do. What we ourselves look like does not matter, but what type we consider to be beautiful reflects our idealism, and therefore matters a lot. (Emphasis in the original.)


To the Nazis, and historically many other Europeans before them, beauty was spiritual and soulful as well as physical; the outside reflected the inside. The Weimar Republic was in a period, as we are today, of change and opening up of standards, of including more kinds of people, more kinds of bodies. As always when this is happening, an undercurrent of fear was also growing. The Nazis were in the center of that fear: experiencing it, fanning its flames, making it their whole world and their road to power. They used the image of the body and made it Aryan. The vision was already very much in the cultural zeitgeist, so it was easy to transform into one way to exclude, to caricature, and to turn fear into hate, and hate into hateful action.


Trumpism is not fascism, let alone Nazi-ism. Nonetheless, we have recently been treated to a very clear vision of Trump’s fascination with the ideal body. Where Nazi adaptations of European idealized bodies were male and female, athletic, and committed to the fascist values, contemporary America’s ideal bodies are models and beauty queens, perfect unblemished women, available for rating on a numerical scale. What they do have in common with fascist beauty is the requirement that they be fit, young, blonde, and blue-eyed. (In this time and place, the social image of a flawless body is primarily about women’s bodies.)

Trump has completely bought into the American vision of the ideal woman, and into his penis-given right to judge which women are ideal, or how far they fall short.  Trump is utterly comfortable saying (in this case about actress Nicolette Sheridan) ““A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”

Buying into the ideal of the perfect body is a direct route to marginalization and racism. It’s not just about fat or flat-chested or old bodies, but of dark skin, dark eyes, or any other ethnic characteristic which doesn’t belong in either the Nazis’ or the Trumpists conception of a “master race.”

Ideals of beauty are not necessarily fascist; however, simplistic stereotypical ideals of beauty, especially when paired with fear of the outsider, are a breeding ground for fascism.



A Few Choice Links


Debbie says:

My links list is longer than your browser window, and my time is limited, so here are a few favorites:

frontI have one friend in particular who rages about “unisex” t-shirts with no space for boobs, and I thought of them when I read this Alice Goldfuss piece:

So, why didn’t I make a shirt that says “JUST USE ‘FOLKS’” and offer it in every cut? Because, sometimes, the best way to expose privilege is to take it away. Many men expected me to include men’s sizing by request. By telling them no, I gave them a choice: don’t participate in something you enjoy or adapt to the only option given.

This is a choice marginalized people face every day. …

Something this campaign also helped expose was society’s very limited view on what it means to be a woman. Society expects women to be short and slight, and any deviation from those rules is not supported. Despite offering women’s shirts up to 4XL in size, some women still couldn’t buy them due to women’s sizes being smaller and shorter than men’s. Usually these women have to buy men’s shirts, because they have no other options.

To those women (and nonbinary individuals, and people with gender dysphoria) I accidentally excluded with this campaign, I am truly sorry. You have my permission to take the design and make a shirt for yourself that fits.

My next shirt campaign will have both women’s and men’s sizes, but I want to emphasize that this is bullshit. Labeling clothing this way forces our bodies into a binary that doesn’t exist.

You can buy Alice Goldfuss’s shirts at Outreachy.



I had never heard of Emily Ratajkowski until I came across her essay in Glamour earlier this month. Ratajkowski is an actress, a model, and a Bernie Sanders supporter, who (strangely enough) does not think those things are contradictory.

I’ve been called an attention whore so often that I had almost gotten used to it….  [A]s women we are accused of seeking attention more than men are, whether for speaking out politically, as I did, for dressing a certain way, or for even posting a selfie. Our culture has a double standard that runs so deep, many women have actually built up an automatic defense—attempting to be a step ahead of potential critics by making sure we have “real” reasons for anything we say or do. …

It’s absurd to think that desire for attention doesn’t drive both women and men. Why are women scrutinized for it more, then? And if a woman dresses up because she does want attention, male or otherwise, does that make her guilty of something? Or less “serious”? Our society doesn’t question men’s motivations for taking their shirt off, or shaving, or talking about politics—nor should it. Wanting attention is genderless. It’s human.

Ratajkowski is funny, a clear thinker, and a good writer. If we didn’t know what she looked like, if she used a different name or kept her personas separate, would we read her writing differently? And if she was a funny, clear thinking male model, would that be different again?


Most articles on disability are either “medical model” perspectives of one kind or another, or they are “my story”: anecdotal experiences. The staff at The Mighty found a new approach: short descriptions from 28 people to build a big picture. One capsule take on what brain fog feels like is just one perspective: 28 stories provide a solid foundation.

“Brain fog is like stumbling around in the dark with no clear path out. It’s like your brain being trapped in quicksand constantly.” — Rachel Johnson

“Brain fog is needing a reminder to remind you what your reminders are for.” — Selena Marie Wilson

“Brain fog for me is feeling completely lost in a familiar place.” — Cherie Rendon

I have never experienced anything I would really call brain fog, but reading these descriptions gave me a much fuller concept than I had before. Now I want to see this model applied to different experiences of disability … and longer stories.


We can always count on Ragen at Dances with Fat to find the most important stories and write about them clearly. This post is no exception:

Brookhaven Elementary school in Mississippi prioritized students not seeing a 9 year old girl in a “too snug” t-shirt, over that girl’s education.  She was removed from her classroom and put into in school suspension her mother then brought another outfit which was also deemed inappropriate.  The school has verified that they are standing by their decision.

Here’s the first inappropriate outfit (Ragen also has a picture of the second one):


After dissecting the story behind the story, Ragen concludes:

mostly what I want to say is that this kid is fricking nine years old and she deserves to be able to go to school to learn in pants and a t-shirt without having to worry about being dragged out of class in front of her peers and put into in school suspension because of a ridiculous fat shaming dress code and the sizeist teachers and administrators who choose how and when to enforce it.


Stacy Bias provides a fine antidote. Her twelve Good Fatty Archetypes include:


The others range from No Fault Fatty to Fatshionista, and nine more. You’ll enjoy them.

Aside from my usual sources of links, Lisa Hirsch sent the Dances with Fat link (and a couple of others that didn’t make it into this post), and Body Impolitic’s own Lynne Murray sent the Stacy Bias link. Thanks to both!