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Fat Hate Fatigue

One of the reasons I will never become a true ride or die fat bloggers is the fatigue.

After reading the seventh or eighth infuriating article in a row reminding me that the whole entire world hates our bodies, I hit the wall.

My mind simply won’t process the idea I could possibly be that offensive to that many people just by sheer act of existing in the shape I do, so I just walk away. I’m not sure whether that’s cowardly or smart.

It’s so challenging to maintain a healthy balance between realizing there is a problem; that size-discrimination is real, accepted and increasingly government sanctioned (I love Mrs O, but the institutionalized War on Fat Kids is not a trend I’d like to see continued), while also remembering to keep a sense of proportion.

Not everyone is a sizist jerk, just like not all men are rapists or all Republicans are women-hating whackadoos. It’s just that reading 47 articles in a row one night when you’ve fallen down the Jezebel/HuffPo/Social Justice Blog rabbit-hole might skew your world view a teensy bit.

This isn’t a knock against those who report the grim news from the front lines every day.  It’s just that I believe in being mindful about everything that goes in and on my body, including information.

also, there’s this

Someday I’ll write something thoughtful and poignant about how exposing ourselves indiscriminately to media that treats us like garbage in the name of mindless entertainment –and most of it is mindless– or deriving enjoyment out of shows that are basically hour long soft-core torture porn with a bonus side of sexual assault (or what my friend Mardie calls “Law and Order: Baby Rape”) is pretty screwed up.

Unfortunately, I’m currently living with only intermittent electricity (still) and as of last night –when I tried to excavate my original face under the layers of makeup required for dancing several hours under bright lights– no running water.

Frankly, it’s hard to be serious when failure to remove last night’s maquillage now means I look like Alice Cooper playing the Bette Davis role in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

That’s probably why Audre Lorde never wore liquid liner.

What about you? Do you get fat-hate fatigue? How does what you read in the media compare to your own experiences? 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

So…what’s the resolution?

Last week, I asked your opinion whether I was being too sensitive when it came to this photo:

Beer goggles?

Which was printed out and put up on the wall of a sports pub where I went to watch El Clasico.

I emailed them the following (with some identifying information removed):

So I’ve been thinking about it and I’m wondering if you’re not doing yourself a disservice by having that print-out on the wall turning a generically pretty fat girl into a generically pretty thin girl (though the breast size stays the same, of course) through the “power of beer.”

I know it’s supposed to be a joke, but it kind of makes you all look like ignorant jerks, which I’m pretty sure isn’t the case. Ignorant because really, in 2011 are we still making fun of fat chicks?

I mean ignoring the basic misogyny and bigotry in it, it’s just so old, like calling something “gay” as an insult or using the phrase “colored people.” It’s embarrassing!

Plus, I’m pretty sure a lot of your clientele are either big girls themselves or are dating/married/attracted to big girls.

So not only are you insulting fat chicks, which is lame, you’re effectively insulting the taste of the people (or in the case of big girls, the actual people) who spend their money at your establishment and come on…that’s not only bad from a decent-human-being aspect, it’s bad business too.

There are precious few places to watch proper football in this town, especially as a female fan.

It’s pretty much you and [redacted] and I know you guys are the underdog. I’d hate to see something as stupid as a joke poster (no matter how poor the taste) affect your sales even a little. Seriously, I’m not the most morally resolute girl on the block and even I have a hard time justifying that it’s ethically okay to financially support some place that’s okay with discriminating –even via dumb print-out– against someone based on how they look.

Hala Madrid!

Miss Plumcake

To which I received this response:

Miss Plumcake:

Thank you for taking the time to address your concerns to us. If you have been a frequent customer of ours then you will appreciate that we do cater to a significant number of full figured and larger women. We pride ourselves in providing a safe and inviting place for women to feel comfortable and relaxed without being pestered or feeling on show. In that vein, I can appreciate your view point and have removed the picture.

Thank you again for bringing that to our attention.

And you know? I’ll take it. Do I think for one hot buttered second they have realized the error of their ways and are wearing hairshirts at this very moment? Eh, not really.

What I do think is they saw an email sent from the biggest media outlet in town and panicked a little. Then after some cursory googling panicked some more and thought “Oh crap, we really do not want this to get media attention” and responded.

If it occurred to them to be a little more thoughtful about what they put up because you never know who is going to be there, that’s just gravy. And if they actually did think “hey, you know I guess this kind of DOES make us look like jerks.” then alleluia with knobs on.

Would I have gotten the same response if I’d just been some random emailer who didn’t buy ink by the tanker truck? I’d like to think yes, but I’m not sure.

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

I think ABC Suspects We’re All Terrorists

Oh my GOSH you guys, I can’t believe ANYONE would think ABC  could POSSIBLY be setting a double standard by refusing to run Lane Bryant’s new lingerie commercial –citing “excessive cleavage”– during Dancing With the Stars!

It’s so simple!

THIS is okay:

DWTS6

THIS is not:

lane-bryant-ad

I mean DUH.

Not convinced? Fine, let’s have another example.

This is obviously totally appropriate family viewing:

DWTS5

DWTS3

THIS is like forcing your nana to make out with Bin Laden:

Lane Bryant Ad 2
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE… (more…)

Suck It Fatosphere.

A pal and I were chatting last night about The Fat Mafia.

Okay, she didn’t call it The Fat Mafia but it seems fitting.  Apparently a college friend of hers was a pretty big deal –no pun intended– in the size-acceptance world and then –horror of horrors– she lost weight.

She went from very very fat to merely very fat.  She “sold out” they said.

Uh…what?

I don’t even get it.  Is the fatosphere REALLY the body police now? Isn’t that kind of what we’re fighting AGAINST? Because I think it is, and to call someone a sell-out because she changed her body size? That is crackery of the highest order and if you subscribe to that nonsense you deserve a life of bad chocolate, worse sex and unflatteringly back-lit polyester chiffon.

Listen. You don’t owe it to me or anyone else in the universe to be fat or thin or tall or short or anything at all except for healthy for your kids if you’ve got ’em, and that’s not even because I care all that much about your special little snowflakes, but I’m a sucker and somehow I’d probably end up taking care of them and oh God won’t SOMEBODY think of my white furniture?!

The point is this:

If you’re fat and you’re at peace with being fat? Stay fat. I don’t care.

If you’re fat and you don’t WANT to be at peace with it?  Get less fat.  Again, and I think perhaps you might be sensing a theme, I don’t care.

It’s your body and you don’t have to justify it.

Does this mean you get to expect everyone to approve of you? No. If you swallow a tapeworm because the boy you like only digs girls who look like Puccini heroines in the last act, I’m going to laugh at you. Hard. And probably make a bitchy comment about your daddy not showing up to enough ballet recitals. BUT. Other people’s disapproval is the price you pay for living the life you want, and it’s worth every penny.

When I first took this gig, I knew I wanted it to be for Big Girls, but not just for the type of Big Girl who wore plus-size clothing.

Anyone who knows what it’s like to feel excluded for being “different” is a Big Girl.

Anyone whose mother ever crushingly raised an eyebrow and asked if you *needed* that slice of pie is a Big Girl.

Anyone who looked in the mirror one day with bad lighting and acne and said “Well, this is who I am so I better start loving it” is a Big Girl.

Anyone who just needs to take up more room because that much love, affection, personality and style simply *cannot* be contained is a Big Girl, and if that means you’re a man, woman, thin, fat, gay, straight, confused or just a really well-trained labradoodle with access to an iPhone, if you like this site you’re a Big Girl and I don’t give a chocolate-covered damn what your scale says about it. You are welcome here.

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