Beth Ditto’s Body and the Fat Police

You don’t think fat hate is out there still? You don’t think women practice demeaning paternalism? Are you sure? Check out this article and photo of Beth Ditto.  My problem? The assumption Strawn makes that we should all worry about Ditto’s health and what she eats and how bad this looks; as if we are having “a negative effect” on how we view our bodies because a photography airbrushed her bigger. Excuse me? I find the photo tasteful, artful, and extremely refreshing and you know what? It’s none of our business whether Ditto exercises or what she puts in her mouth. Period.


Why Do We Let Them Do It?

Shakesville (and thank goddess she’s back up posting) has an excellent “shake”down of advertisers and the stereotypes that drive them to create and promote inane commercials. Her list of things that are assumed about fat people is something I had to say “YES!” or “Exactly!” to at each listing.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve found myself disgusted at the assumptions people make about beauty and size and the headlines that garner a “WTF?” Here’s a choice quote about Neda, the poor woman gunned down in Iraq last week, pulled from Hot Air, a conservative commentator:

The rumor — and it’s all rumor until some newspaper tracks down her family — is that she was 27 years old and a philosophy student. I hope to god this isn’t really her photo because the thought of her being so beautiful and dignified makes the murder somehow that much more obscene.

Yes, because her death would have been much more bearable and less obscene if she was ugly and undignified, whatever that means. Is this why the media fawns over the kidnapping and murders of young, pretty, white teen girls, but those deemed “ugly” by society are not worth being upset over and therefore not worth coverage? And of course ugly in society means non-white, fat, sex working, poor, etc. You get the picture.

Does anybody realize what they are saying when they repeat these tired cliches and stereotypical statements? Does anyone stop and think that by repeating the mantras of commercials or the thoughtless statements of politicos that they are marginalizing those that don’t quite conform to someone’s unproven yet oft repeated and therefore believed narrow viewpoint? Perhaps it’s time to stretch some horizons and review the world out there in all it’s truth, beauty, and glorious normalcy; a world that everyone fears so mightily but no one knows anything about. You can start here, here, and here.

Personally, I’ve always been quiet about my size because it’s widely known and experienced by bloggers that once people know you are fat, you are automatically dismissed as less intelligent and taking your ideas seriously is diminished exponentially as if for every pound you weigh up, you are allotted one tick off the intelligence scale. Which is why so many of us blog anonymously. (and don’t even get me started on the hate comments that many fat bloggers receive, especially fat women bloggers) But times are changing and it’s probably time to acknowledge that according to society’s standard of beauty, I’m fat, unacceptable, and ugly. According to society, being fat is threatening to thin livelihood and must be controlled and forcibly changed to make the privileged thin feel more comfortable. According to society, my “inability” to control my appetites makes me dangerous, sinful, selfish, and a drain on societal resources. The societal privilege of the un-fat will probably prevent them from acknowledging the assumptions behind the labels they apply. The same people who will fight for the rights of those of another skin color will not think twice about furthering false information about a self created faux science event called an “obesity epidemic.”

But despite all the evidence controverting the supposed facts, the real issue is treating people like dignified persons regardless of size, skin color, sexual preference, or by a commercially created standard of beauty.  Whether someone desires to lose weight or not, get plastic surgery or not, it shouldn’t matter as far as societal acceptance goes.  What matters is that we are normal people, period.  Can’t we finally realize how insidious hidden and subliminal messages about all this really is? Are we such sheep that we just follow dumbly along accepting all we’re told? Shouldn’t we make a concerted effort to resist it? The propaganda we so hate in other cultures and subcultures are perfectly acceptable to us at other times.

Melissa sums it up best for me and I give a hearty “amen” to that:

There are fat people—even big fat people like me—who have experienced these things. And there are thin people, and medium-sized people, who have experienced these things, too.

But it’s funny how it’s always the fat folks who seem to get the wonky chair in the movies and adverts, who are the last ones to step on the weakened floorboard before it cracks, the ones who can’t stop shoving that entire package of delicious cookies in their mouths because they’re so gosh-darn tasty.

And it’s funny how rarely we’re seen doing anything else. It’s almost as if you aren’t aware that we struggle to figure out what to be when we grow up, that we go on crappy dates, that we have shitty jobs, that we make discoveries and commit crimes, that we become presidents and stay-at-home-parents, that we’re every intersectionality one can imagine, that we are couch potatoes and athletes, that we fall in love and fuck and make babies, or not, that we are smart and dumb and nerdy and fashionable and sophisticated and mellow and all kinds of disparate and complex things. It’s almost as if you think we don’t live full, rich lives.