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Can’t I just be fat?

Seriously now.

Your pal Plummy was up all night doing important things (definitely NOT Googling “Xabi Alonso shirtless” and slurping her way through an undetermined number –which may or may not be four– of coco paletas while petting her dog with her foot) and my dander is now officially in the upright and locked position.

I’m a grown up, I pay damn good money for the insurance that includes vision so when I look in the mirror I know exactly what I see. I see two strong legs, broad pale shoulders, a mysterious bruise that frankly asks more questions than it answers, and I see fat.

Can’t I  just be fat? How is that such a bad thing?

Why do we skirt coyly around the word? It is like Voldemort now? (I was going to ask “is it like Bloody Mary now?” but I don’t know how many damn times I said it in the mirror, a cocktail never appears). It’s not like we’re going to be  magically unfat if we describe ourselves as “fluffy” or “more to love” or whatever cringe-worthy term allows us to not use the F word.

It’s just a word, and to me it’s a lot less embarrassing to be fat (which is to say not embarrassing at all) than it is to be Grown Damn Woman who can’t look in the mirror, call it how I see it and move along with my day.

I say away with the euphemisms.

Not just because it’s embarrassing to be afraid of a three-letter word, but it’s also taking some of our best adjectives away. Curvy = Fat. Voluptuous = Fat.  Oh and don’t even get me STARTED on the term BBW, I might pop that weird little pulse-y vein in my forehead and I just used my last Band Aid to cover up a paleta stick splinter.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? If you don’t use the term fat what do you use instead? Why? Put it in the comments.

Codie Young: Size Zero Scapegoat

Codie Young is a really skinny girl.

Do you know what that tells me?

It tells me that Codie Young is a really skinny girl.

It doesn’t tell me anything about her health, her lifestyle, anything. For all I know, the 18 year-old model whose photos for a recent Topshop campaign are causing all sorts of a ruckus about promoting eating disorders, could spend her mornings farming organic kale and her afternoons running marathons.

Or she could smoke 50 cigarettes, drown a kitten and then snort a line of cocaine longer than her own photoshopped neck, possibly off the corpse of someone’s dead grandmother. It’s anyone’s guess.

Topshop took down the offending photo and replaced it with one that hides her supposedly purge-triggering body behind a coat and offered the reading public a little bread to go along with their circus:

“Topshop is confident that Codie is a healthy young woman and we do not feel it necessary to remove her from our imagery,” said a spokesman for Topshop, “However we do recognize regretfully that the angle this image has been shot at may accentuate Codie’s proportions making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body . . . We have taken down that specific image at the earliest opportunity. Topshop is proud of its heritage of celebrating individual-looking girls who offer an alternative more unusual beauty.”

Want to see the photo? Here we go.


So here’s what really happened:
Topshop hired a very skinny model and through photography and Photoshop made her look even skinnier because that was the exact look they wanted.

They got busted and now the blame and vilification is falling on the shoulders of a teenage model who, she insists on her blog, is just naturally thin.

Now okay, let’s be honest here, after poring over Ms Young’s blog I’m pretty no one is going to confuse her with Noel Coward in a dark alley so some of her statements aren’t exactly…mature:

There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know one says anything to them because you don’t want to affend them![…] And funny enough saying I’m anorexic affends me just as being called obese affends overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!

but what about this?

Firstly this is very hurtful to me as I am naturally skinny; and anyone who knows me would know that I have been naturally skinny my entire life as my dad is 6’5 tall and skinny an my mum is also skinny, not to mention that my entire family on my dads side are all tall and skinny like me!

For someone like Ms Davies to say its not okay for me to be this thin ( which is how I was created) basicly says its not okay for me to be who I am!

Okay yeah, just put a gigantic sic. next both those quotes but replace “skinny” with “fat” and how many of us can sing this song from heart? I know I can.

The problem isn’t some size 0 teenager got a job modeling trickledown fashion. The problem is she’s impossible to tell apart from all the OTHER size 0 teenagers who get jobs modeling fashion, trickledown or otherwise.

Ms Young is just another very tall, very thin, faceless automaton who gets jobs because that’s what the modeling industry wants now, to the worrying exclusion of almost anything else.

so when I read this:

“Topshop is proud of its heritage of celebrating individual-looking girls who offer an alternative more unusual beauty.”

Like this, but thinner

I sound a rueful yawp. Can you have a rueful yawp? Well, whatever I did it was loud and rueful. And yawpy.

No, Topshop. No you don’t celebrate individual-looking girls. If you did, there would be more than one body type in your campaigns. YOU, Topshop, celebrate tall, thin girls with faces that are half Eastern-European automatons and half dead-eyed child nymphets. The problem isn’t her body type, the problem is you only hire girls who look like Ms Young so these girls only ever SEE one body type. THAT’S what messes girls up.

There’s nothing wrong with the way Ms Young looks, and maybe girls would feel better about seeing her body shape along side a size 6, a size 10 or *gasp* even a size 16.

Your clothes go up to a 16 so ostensibly you want that business, why not show someone actually wearing that size…or is that too much “unusual beauty” for you?

Letters from Miss Plumcake: Dear People Who Comment About Weight Loss

Once upon a time I was having happy hour with a friend and the subject turned to suits. I was making my excuses for leaving early as I had to pop by Neiman’s and buy two suits with the hope at least one of them would fit my brother –who had lost a lot of weight– so he wouldn’t have to wear a barrel with suspenders to our grandfather’s funeral.

The person next to me, a close friend at the time, started holding forth about how could a grown man not own a suit that fits. I don’t think I said much as she waxed stentorian on the subject but finally when she asked me directly how a grown man didn’t own a suit that fit I answered.

“He has cancer.”

And that, my little biscuits and gravy, is why you don’t comment on someone’s weight change.

I understand we’re naturally conditioned to think weight loss is good, healthy and desirable. And if a big girl loses weight? Why NOT make public comments of congratulations? Surely she couldn’t possibly be sick, suffering from an eating disorder or heck, just thinks something as personal and private as the choices she makes with her body shouldn’t really be open for general discussion. Would you say “Hey! Congratulations on your terminated pregnancy!” (I mean I would, but only to close friends, and certainly not by shouting it down the hallway.)

Recently I’ve lost weight. I don’t own a scale but I’d say it’s somewhere between “a bunch” and “a mess” and I’m fine with it. I liked my body before, I like it now. It really hasn’t been that big a deal.

I’ve got cheekbones so that’s nice, but none of my clothes fit and that isn’t nice at all.

Other than that my life isn’t any different at a size 18 than it was at a 22. It just takes up moderately less space.

And yeah, I’ve done it on purpose because the less I weigh the less ruinously expensive, side effect-laden, make-sure-she-doesn’t-go-into-shock-and-die medicine I have to have injected into my veins every six weeks until I go to the big rodeo in the sky. And you know? That’s working. It’s also none of anyone’s damn business.

But the point is, until I tell you, you don’t know.

You don’t know if I’m losing weight because I’m sick, or because I’m so distressed I’ve stopped eating, or if I’ve gone on a steady diet of tapeworms, laxatives and medical grade blow.

So please, I know you mean well, but unless you’re invited to touch my body, you’re not invited to comment on it. Let’s just focus on the important thing: how fabulous are my shoes?

Gin and Tonics,

Miss Plumcake

Letters from Miss Plumcake: I am not your funny fat friend

Listen up kiddios because Miss Plumcake is gonna lay down a little church on behalf of her many big sisters.

Skinny Girls:

I am not your funny fat friend.

I am not your wingman, I am not your ride to the club and I am not the girl you stand next to when you want to look thin. I am the queen of this rodeo and in fact, every rodeo where I deign to appear, so while I appreciate that popular culture and hour after hour of sitcoms, romcoms and whatever other sort of com you want to watch tells you otherwise: I am not the Skipper doll of your Malibu Dream Life. And P.S., Ken? Isn’t holding out because “he respects you.”

And I’m speaking on behalf of your One Black Friend, your Sassy Best Gay, and any other friend who conveniently fills a space on your United Colors of Benetton Bingo Card. Yes, I’m fat and I’m funny and you don’t have to ignore that, but for the love of Susan Hayward, that’s not my JOB (okay well it is MY job) I got other stuff goin’ on.

I am not Robin to your Batman, but if you’re lucky I might let you be the Thelma to my Louise.

Straight Boys:

You don’t get to string me along into some sort of screwed-up friends with benefits situation where I have to sleep with you AND listen to you complain about your mother.

You get one or the other, bucko. If you want both you need to put a ring on it, and since no good ever comes from talking to the people you want to see naked, that had better be a pretty damn big ring.  I want terrified sailors to warn their captains to change course when they see me coming, and not just because of those slightly blurry weekends I spent in Annapolis.

Also, when you tell me I’m hot, don’t say it’s because you find beauty on the inside. Why do you do that? Is it because you think it makes you sound evolved? You don’t. My insides are filled with eels and you know it. My legs however, are worshiped as deities in several small Pacific island nations (or at least will be as soon as I cash in my frequent flier miles and blow this popsicle stand). Tighten up.

Big Girls:

Value your own stock.

You’ll note I said I’m writing this on your behalf. That’s because I don’t have anyone in my life who treats me like that.  Why? Because I don’t let them. I know it’s easier said than done, and it’s a process, but if you see yourself in any of those situations, you’ve either got to cut these yahoos loose or gently –but clearly– correct them, which will save you the trouble of murdering them later (and honestly, how many of us can carry off prisonrape orange?)

The world will not end if you walk away. In fact, knowing you’re capable of walking away can actually help you be more tolerant because you’re making a choice, not hanging on out of desperation.

Your real friends will deal and be better people for it. The folks who freak out? Show them your bye-bye wave.

Gin and Tonics,

Miss Plumcake

Thoughts on Capital F Fashion

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the exclusivity of fashion and I’ve decided I just don’t buy it.

That being said, we ought to differentiate between Fashion and the Fashion Industry.

The mainstream fashion industry and media has its head so far up its own emaciated backside that it can use its own lungs as convenient and ergonomically sound in-flight neck pillows.  That’s not going to change any time soon, so take whatever good you can find from it as a pleasant surprise and leave the rest. My current scientifically bangin’ measurements are 53-361/2-54 and I cannot buy ready-to-wear from any major designer.  That is screwed up.  I have –albeit on a larger scale– pretty the exact same proportions as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and the Venus De frickin’  Milo.  If you can’t design clothes that look great on my figure *coughMiucciaPradacough* the problem? Is not with me.

But Fashion? Fashion is by no means the exclusive provenance of 15 year-old Eastern Bloc automatons with bones but no faces. Sure that may be what we see on the runways right now –although admittedly with the revival of the early 90’s looks, we’re getting a bit more diversity of look on the catwalk– but after poring through thousands of editorial fashion images this weekend, particularly from the How to be a F**king Lady tumblr stream which is beyond fabulous I’ve decided one thing:

When you create something unusual, maybe even shocking, put it on your body and  sell it so hard that it becomes fabulous by sheer force of will, THAT is Capital F Fashion. It doesn’t belong to the thin or tall or blonde or rich or whatever actress has a new movie coming out. It belongs to anyone with courage and courage doesn’t give a damn about measurements.

Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with wanting to be pretty, but good Fashion –like all good art– is challenging and challenging ain’t always pretty.

So take this as a call to arms.

If we want to do Fashion, we can do Fashion. In fact, as big girls, we might actually even have a natural advantage because we command more attention with our physical presence. After all, there’s a reason Cadillacs are in parades but those little SmartCars aren’t. BE the Cadillac, girls and go commit some Fashion.

Dear Maura Kelly and Marie Claire

I was all geared up to do a Suck It: Marie Claire and Maura Kelly for the execrable piece of trash Ms Kelly wrote and Marie Claire published that, had it been said about any other minority group, would have gotten her fired.

But I’m not.

Because rule one of being a decent human being is not to beat someone when they’re down.

Mostly I feel sorry for her. That is not the writing of a happy camper. If her body issues are so severe and long-lasting that she’s still making physical size into a moral issue to the point where she would be:

“…grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.”

That’s just sad. I mean it’s outrageous and embarrassingly immature and ignorant, but mostly it’s just sad.

Think about it: Would you ever want to feel like that? What kind of life is that? How much self-loathing does one person need to have where watching fat people in the act of EXISTING is an offense? I don’t hate her: I pity her.

So Ms Kelly, here are some things you need to hear:

You are beautiful. You are beautiful at whatever weight you are now and you’d be beautiful 100 pounds from now. You might not feel it if you were fat, but I’m not all sure you feel especially beautiful now. Beauty has breadth, it has depth and the more you look for it, the more you will find. Wouldn’t your life be better if it had more beauty in it? The way to find it isn’t to narrow your definitions.

–If you rely on having a certain socially-accepted body to feel good about yourself, you are fighting a losing battle. It will hurt you. It’s probably hurting you now. It’s a shell game, sweetheart. There will always be someone younger and prettier than you are, with a “better” body. Always. God-willing you’re going to get old, you’re going to get wrinkles, you might even get fat. Gravity will take its toll and someday you and everyone around you will refer to your looks in the past tense. You will be someone who once was pretty. If that’s all you’ve got, I hate to break it to you but not liking to watch fat people will be the least of your worries.

Since you don’t have fat friends, I’ll give you a pass for not knowing that a lot of stereotypically Great Catches –you know, those David Beckham body doubles with great jobs and healthy emotional boundaries– are into big girls. Not just because “beauty is on the inside” but because they actually physically prefer overblown curves. So those rolls that make you sick are incredibly sexy to a shocking (even for me) percentage of traditionally hot guys. Being fat doesn’t mean you have to settle, it just means you’re fat. I’m a size 20. My gentleman caller is an athlete and fitness model who should be on a Calvin Klein billboard, which a) is bragging b) illustrates my next point:

The only thing you’ll get with a man who likes your physique to be just so is a guy who will leave you when you don’t look that way anymore. How can you have a successful romantic and sexual relationship if you’re constantly worried that once your package has expired (and it will expire) you’ll get tossed in the trash? I couldn’t handle that sort of insecurity and I don’t exactly suffer from a lack of self-esteem. It’s useless at best and dangerous at worst to assume you have to have a certain body to attract a man with a corresponding one.

Not all science is good science. You know how the little trope about how women’s brains are smaller than men’s was used for more than a century to support the idea that women are intellectually inferior to men? That’s bad science and it’s dangerous because it perpetuates dangerous biases. You’ll find equally incendiary-to-our-ears biases about other minorities in old textbooks. Blacks are such-and-such, Jews are such-and-such, Gays are such-and-such, all with the same result: it dehumanizes the group and by making them Less Than, thus giving society permission to treat them without basic human decency. There’s a lot of bad science out there that will “support” popular ideas. Don’t swallow them wholesale.

Fat people can be healthy, check out the Health at Every Size community. Or heck, check out my friend Kerrie and all the women like her who run marathons and triathlons as a big girl. Are you really going to call someone who can run 26 miles unhealthy? Crazy yes, but not unhealthy.

Don’t kick someone when they’re down.

Listen, Ms Kelly, the reason I’m not laying into you is because I’ve been where you are.

I’ve made an ass out of myself in print before. I said I didn’t want to look like a tranny in a pretty major publication. It was a cheap throwaway joke and because I’m so vocal about my support for GLBT issues –I’ve even driven the big convertible in a pride parade– it didn’t even occur to me that I’d offend anyone.

Wrong. I got hate mail by the bucket.

It took a bizarre personal experience of having my OWN gender questioned –and I’m just this side of Jessica Rabbit on the femininity spectrum so imagine MY surprise– for me to realize how wrong I was. I can’t know what it’s like to be born in the wrong gender. I can’t know the pain of coming out, either as gay or transgendered and having my entire world turn against me –or feel like it– just because I want to live my life honestly, and because I can’t know I have no business talking about it or making high-handed moral declarations about it.

You can’t know what it’s like to live as a fat girl in a world where fat girls are treated as less than fully human. You just can’t. All we can do is empathize and do our best to remember that everyone wants the same thing: to be loved and happy, just as they are.

What you did was dangerous and hurtful.

It was stupid too, but I don’t really care about the stupid part. I do stupid stuff all the time. Generally I’m smart enough not to publish my stupidity, but hey everybody makes mistakes.

You know first hand what it’s like dealing with an eating disorder. Do you have any idea how many of my readers –not to even think about the Fat World in general– are recovering from eating disorders and have gotten fat because their metabolic system has been permanently damaged? Do you have any idea how easy it is to slip back into disordered eating and the psychological shame spiral? I have a feeling you do. I also have a feeling that you know what a trigger is. Your little post was a great big trigger for a lot of people, I guarantee it.

Finally let me make this clear: It truly doesn’t matter to me what you think of the way I look. You don’t hold any power or authority by right of your thinness. My life is great. I’ve got a great job, oodles of fans, love, happiness, flawless tits and a freakin’  Birkin I didn’t have to pay for. I’m doing Just Fine.

What does matter to me is that you learn something.

This ugly situation can be a great jumping-off point for an open and honest exploration of your fairly apparent body issues. With any luck this will lead you to be a little more thoughtful about the reasons behind your body image issues and help you develop a more loving relationship with your own body. Other people don’t need to be bad to make you feel good. Other people don’t need to be ugly for you to be beautiful. It’s not a zero-sum game. Never has been. Your bio says you’re in your 30s and have never been in love. That’s unfortunate too, but not surprising. If you don’t love yourself, regardless of measurements, how are you going to love anybody else? Think about it sweetheart, and try to get better.

Gin and tonics,

Miss Plumcake

Suck it, Dove.

You know, I’ve gotta say, I’ve just never been all that crazy about the whole DoveReal Beauty” campaign. I remember back in college –this was way back in 1999 when the earth was still cooling– seeing some Dove ad and going…”Wait, so I’m supposed to be good with my body but also buy their anti-cellulite cream? Huh?”

See I was perusing Zelda Lily the other day and saw their story about how Dove ran this little ad in Craigslist (the emphasis is mine):

DOVE “REAL WOMEN” PRINT CASTING JUNE 28-30, 2010 in NYC ABSOLUTELY NO ACTRESSES / MODELS OR REALITY SHOW PARTICIPANTS or ANY ONE CARRYING A HEADSHOT!!!! REAL WOMEN ONLY! LOOKING FOR 3-4 REAL WOMEN for a DOVE PRINT CAMPAIGN!

AGES 35-45, CAUCASIAN, HISPANIC, AFRICAN AMERICAN, & ASIAN!

SHOOT: SUNDAY, JULY 18 in NYC! MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR THE SHOOT!
RATE: $500 for Shoot date & if selected for Ad Campaign (running 2011) you will be paid $4000!
USAGE: 3 years unlimited print & web usage in N. America Only

YOU WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED FOR THE CAMPAIGN IN A TOWEL!
BEAUTIFUL ARMS AND LEGS AND FACE WILL BE SHOWN!

MUST HAVE FLAWLESS SKIN, NO TATTOOS OR SCARS!
Well groomed and clean…Nice Bodies..NATURALLY, FIT Not too
Curvy
Not too Athletic.

Great Sparkling Personalities. Beautiful Smiles! A DOVE GIRL!!!
STYLISH AND COOL!
Beautiful HAIR & SKIN is a MUST!!!

PLEASE SUBMIT SNAPSHOTS of FACE & BODY ASAP & WE WILL CALL YOU IN FOR A CASTING NEXT WEEK 6/28-6/30 in NYC!
urbanproddovecasting@gmail.com

And you know, all those things are totally fine…for a model casting call. What grates my cheese is this whole tiresome anti-model thing. Really? So you don’t want models, you just want someone who looks like a model?

Oh, and please note you have to have a “Flawless Skin” and a “Nice Body…NATURALLY” because none of us have stretchmarks or scars naturally. Not from doing things like, oh I don’t know, having a baby.
Hitting puberty. Punching yourself in the face repeatedly in an effort to unread stupid casting calls from delusional companies? You know, natural stuff. Oh and you must be well-groomed, because I’m naturally follicle-free anyplace south of my eyelashes, aren’t you?

Also, you can’t be “too curvy” because Curvy = Fat and remember it is still not okay to be capital F Fat. You can be model fat –a size 10– or you can be Self-Congratulatory Token Fat –up to a size 14, maybe 16 if you’re quirky– but you can’t be a pretty size 18, 20, 22, 24 girl. Nope. Because that’s not natural. Oh, and you can’t be naturally thin either, so all you girls who got made fun of and called beanpole, or have people make snide comments about you “needing a sandwich” can just forget about it too, because your beauty isn’t “real.” It’s not natural. And if you’re not one of those previously-mentioned races?

Don’t even bother.

I think this sort of undercover discrimination is way more insidious than any high fashion over-photoshopped editorial spread featuring some 15 year-old Ukrainian girl in a $20,000 gown and a
glitter-crusted bear trap sitting on on a diving board in the middle of a pool of tapioca, because that is clearly an editorial thing. I’ve never been to Ukraine, but I am fairly secure in saying there is probably a relative paucity of haute couture gowns and athletic centers willing to be overrun by delicious manioc-based desserts.

I really wouldn’t care at all if Dove had shown a little intellectual honesty and just posted a model casting call for women between sizes 6 and 12 with flawless skin and beautiful hair and whatever else they wanted. It’s this “oh we’re so above models” nonsense that drives me up the wall. You want a specific look, and you’re defining that look –and very pointedly excluding others– and calling it “Real Beauty.”

Whatever, Dove. You can keep your trademarked Real Beauty. I’ll keep my natural scars, my natural stretch marks and my natural good sense. Now all I need is a flight to Ukraine. I want tapioca.

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