SuperPost for week 6: Feb 21st and 23rd

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Theme for the week: Body Image and Body-Positive Communities

Readings to discuss ONLINE Tuesday: 

Body-Positivity (WARNING: POTENTIALLY NSFW)

Additional material to discuss IN CLASS on Thursday: 

Fat is (Still) a Feminist Issue: (WARNING: POTENTIALLY NSFW)

(if you’re interested in MORE, here’s a giant round-up of body-positive/fat-positive blogs: http://glitter-pits.tumblr.com/post/7274662211/big-ol-bodyposi-tumblr-roundup)

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50 responses »

  1. Once again, thank you everyone for being so understanding as I’ve been sick. I would love to see you all on Thursday if it is okay. I am excited to talk about our topic, and I have some exciting news for next week.

    For now, though, I’d like to hear what you have to say about the issue of body image and body acceptance, especially in the blogosphere. I included an article somewhat critical of these blogs, and then an example of my favorite site (which was cited in that article) for you to use in forming your own opinions. Admittedly, I fell in love with these blogs this past summer and they have dramatically shifted my way of looking at my own body as well as the possibilities for body image advocacy. That said, I am up for a healthy debate if there is disagreement! 🙂

  2. I just wanted to say that though body image is and should be based on how you personally want to feel, society and media will always have an upper hand on the “new” opinion on whats “in”. In turn body image on the net ‘blogosphere” can be very helpful to young women, however it can also lead an individual into a downward spiral of shame, and or a constant need to “fix” their body. For instance I love my body…until I see photos of video vixens or black voluptuous models, then I’m like I gotta eat more, I’m too thin, my butts too flat, come on boobs GRRRRROW! lol that’s the biggest thing about the net being able to make or break a person.

    Also I realized I do have a small sniped of my younger sisters response in terms of body image on my blog: http://kiaraann365.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/interview-with-a-tween-teen-on-social-networking-sites/

    • This is very true, which is why there have been arguments online (and off, but online is easier to track visually) between what is “beautiful” when it comes to bodies… when we applaud ONLY thinness over everything, it causes damage just as applauding ONLY curves/fat/etc. We have to strive for the message that all bodies are beautiful, no matter gender or size.

        • Indeed. Putting down one body type to make another one look better isn’t how to go about making women feel better about their bodies. If skinny is in, we starve ourselves. If chubby is in, we eat more. If painting our skin with stripes is in, we go to Menards. If everything is in, we don’t need to worry about this crap anymore.

  3. I think the biggest thing that many people forget to take into account is that body image isn’t just a women’s issue, but a men’s issue as well. Society pressures everybody to look a certain way, unfortunately.

      • Wow. They almost were built like Barbie dolls until they beefed them up a bit. Still, the ones now looks like they were making up for the old ones, but they look like they all developed cases of muscle dysmorphia.

        I think you don’t usually hear about men’s body issues other than guys wanting to get more muscular because worrying about your weight is a “women’s issue” that guys shouldn’t worry about. I do know a few of my male friends who were worried about being fat before they hit their growth spurts and one of them still initially stayed underweight afterwards because he was still worried about it.

        • It is bothersome what male fitness is viewed as… Essentially being as beefed up and veiny; drawing back the masculine stereotype. When I work out my goal is to keep my body fat down to a minimum and not build on too much useless muscle (the aesthetic type). I’ve gotten comments that this is a kind of “girl fitness” ….

          • Oh blah, that would annoy me. Girl fitness?

            It’s the other way around too. If weights are suddenly involved, women tend to get apprehensive about exercise because they don’t want to get muscly and look like guys, even if it’s pretty hard for them to get that muscly regardless. They want to look “toned” and feminine. Muscles are for dudes. Meh.

          • I never work out with other girls because I actually want to look muscular, so I always hit the weights with most guys. I think everyone should be entitled to do what ever the hell they want when it comes to working out. If it’s your body then do what you want with it 🙂

    • Completely agreed… I actually got in this conversation last night (with someone outside of our class no less). I think many women has the same concept instilled in them of what the ideal man is just as much as men feel there is an ideal woman.

    • I think it’s part of being a human that makes everyone very self conscious of their own body. There are very few people in the world who have total confidence in how they look.

    • True true, but men have a sense of privilege, because I see all women as constantly being probed and picked apart about there body image. Its like when a woman isn’t up to “par” u see and here about it everywhere and all you do. Whereas men who don’t fit “standard” looks seem like a small majority and their taught to just spray on some “axe” and you can still get the ladies. Lol smh

    • Well, weight obviously plays a big part on how women (and men) view themselves. In fact, it appears to be a larger component of the whole body image discussion… Well, I found this quote and I couldn’t help but disagree (at least partially)…

      “Weight does not dictate your health or your worth.”

      I am aware there was a less than tasteful response but I do not feel, and I could be wrong here, that we should merely accept our bodies when they are a result of inactivity and poor diet choices. I don’t know, I try to work out fairly often and stay healthy and I am far more confident and happy with the way I look as opposed to where I was a few years back. But, that could be my own perspective I guess….

      • Are you commenting on the “your health” part, I assume, not so much the “worth” part? The problem is, we lump those two together. I’m looking forward to our talk on Thursday about fat acceptance and fat-positive feminism.

        I totally understand where you are coming from, but there are also movements like Health At Every Size (http://www.haescommunity.org/) that attempt to disspel some myths about weight =/= health (specifically about how the BMI measure is pretty much bullshit nowadays haha) and about fat =/= not exercising.

        Also, something to think about – we tend to applaud very very thin people for being “healthy” and beautiful when that is just as often not the case.

        • No, I am a complete advocate of being healthy. I agree, there is a thing as being too skinny and it potentially compromising health i.e. (http://style.popcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/clairedanes.jpg). I guess where I’m coming from is a few of my female friends complaining about how they look and yes, they are somewhat “larger” but I feel like building a mile or two jog into your day and cutting back on the soda/fast food will fix that pretty quickly. It is also a great way to help how you view yourself.

          • True, but what if everyone was applauding how they looked all the time? Do you think they would still feel uncomfortable or negative about themselves? It’s interesting to think about — whether it’s the actual size or the community/messages that causes these things.

          • In response to Kate, yes I do beileve someone can still feel negative about body image tho getting positive feedback. Like with my sister, people focus so much on her body image that she just wishes they’d notice hber brains and something that’s as simple as her smile. Mainly because our teeth were never real straight and after yars of braces she’s more proud and happy with just that. More than being “thick”

        • We definitely do. In high school, my friends kept telling me how skinny I was and that I had to eat more so I didn’t fade away, even though I wasn’t underweight or anything. Then (and now), I didn’t exercise much and my food intake wasn’t exactly the healthiest of things. The only differences between those two time periods were my weight and the fact that people approved of my weight back then. I’m not overweight or anything either, but I do want to get healthier so I feel better about myself and so my body doesn’t want to beat me up for not taking care of it like I should.

          There’s plenty of people who would be considered overweight and are healthier than skinny people. Bodies are just made differently.

      • I agree, I think that not everyone has to be super thin or muscular but health is very important. I exercise everyday, but that is my choice because I want to stay healthy and it just feels good. Not everyone is going to have the same results from working out, which is fine but just getting off the couch and moving is always a positive thing!

      • I do think media focuses more on weight that health. You can still be as the fashion industry calls it “plus-size” and still be completely healthy. One of my smaller friends said that she could eat what ever she wanted because she was skinny. She will eat a whole pizza by herself and still say that shes healthy. During the first few minutes at the rec shes passed out on the floor. I could run laps around this girl lol

        • I know exactly what you’re talking about! My two best friends are literally peanuts, they are so small but they eat terrible, never workout, and going up the stairs to our apartment is their definition of a workout. They may look “healthy” because they are thin but what’s on the outside can be deceiving. I know that in terms of health I am in better condition than they are, even though I may not appear that way when we stand side by side.

    • I liked looking at some of the pictures and reading the posts on the tumblr. I thought that it was sending a good message, and most importantly it provided a space for women to receive encouragement and praise for the way they looked. It was a safe space for women of all shapes and sizes because it didn’t set an ideal “image” that we are suppose to live up to.

    • I love that blog. It was one of the first couple of ones that I followed on tumblr. They do a genuine service to their followers.

      Now these two are NO DOUBT NSFW, some of you may even be grossed out by them, merely as a first reaction, but the first one is for sure one of my favourite blogs and the second one is really great too.

      http://sexxxisbeautiful.tumblr.com/
      This blog has a plethora of “unconventional” sexual images. I wouldn’t call it “porn” per se, but it really showcases and, rightfully, glorifies all different types of sex, different race/size/gender orientation models, and also funny sex-related images (ie, on the front page now, old school sex pin-up illustrations with Robert Downey’s face).

      http://hairylegsandpubes.tumblr.com/
      This one, while not having do to with weight issues, still has a positive light on natural body image. I have a dear spot in my heart for body grooming practices and this blog also promotes letting your womanly fur grow.

      • second reminds me of http://hairypitsclub.tumblr.com, which I’ve submitted to a couple times 😀

        i just find it awesome to see so many people submitting pictures of their bodies that wouldn’t normally be seen – unairbrushed, at least – in magazines or other media. and that they are simply accepted and applauded for being themselves is just beautiful. i saw one tumblr a while back about long labia and it was basically just like “look at how NORMAL these all are” for every picture. very interesting and very different from the messages we receive about bodies elsewhere.

        • Totally agree. I love stuff like that, and tumblr has proven to be such a beautiful outlet for all of it.

          Another one that I was going to post, but decided against it is http://transqueersxxx.tumblr.com/ . I hesitated because I don’t want anyone who is cisgender to see these images and automatically be grosses out. I can see where someone who isn’t already very knowledgeable or in-tune to the trans community to see this blog and go FUCKING GROSS and have a bias toward trans people thus forward. However, as someone who is very interested in trans rights and will take ANY opportunity to drop knowledge about their trials and tribulations, from a non-personal standpoint (I am not trans so I could never know their true feelings, but I’ve done research, led workshops, and talked to a number of trans people/friends about their daily struggles and peeves), I found this blog incredibly informational and eye-opening.

          A completely frank example: one of the biggest ways you can show your self off as an ignorant ass when talking to someone who’s trans, is to ask really personal questions. I think you had us watch this last semester, kate, it’s a wonderful video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOjeZnjKlp0). And through this particular blog, I can, in a completely non-judgmental, non-joke-y way, see for myself, from people who want to share images of their body, what their more physical transformations are like. AND, of course there is interesting dialogue too.

  4. This weeks post made me a little giddy because I already follow three of the blogs that the refinery29 mentioned. They are great blogs and have given me personal inspiration to stop giving a shit. Body image is a huge issue for me. I’d always been a fat youth and in highschool I jumped into vegetarianism and veganism head first. I loved it because I lost so much weight. I hit 126 and I was the skinniest I’d ever been. However, I was also barely eating anything. I preferred to only eat food I personally made, so otherwise I didn’t eat. Regardless, I felt awesome. Then I went to Germany and went back to eating meat. Then I came to college. It makes me want to both scream and cry when I think about the fact that I have gained 30-40 pounds in less than a year. I haven’t even weighed myself in at least a month. I tell myself it’s because I don’t/shouldn’t care, but really, I’m scared.

    These blogs really do serve a purpose. While I have a long way to go, if I’m speaking honestly, I feel pretty gross most of the time, these blogs really have been a huge help. They help me know I can be whatever shape I feel comfortable with. They help me realize I have no standards I must meet but my own.

    However, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that one of the main reasons I’m not starving myself to get back is my boyfriend’s affinity for my new found curves. 😉

    AND AT THE SAME TIME, I realize I typically a very rational and independent woman. I don’t tolerate hate and for the most part am not usually very influenced. So, when I think about my own MINOR, in comparison, weight issues, I know that the people who really do NEED help and camaraderie can and do find them in these blogs.

    • I can relate to a lot of what you said. Like what we were talking about with our identities constantly shifting (not just solidifying themselves in childhood or adolescence), it has made me think about how our bodies do exactly the same. Major – or minor – changes in our bodies throughout the years can cause a lot of heartache and frustration, and it could make us constantly have to re-evaluate who we “are” and present ourselves to be. I have gone up a couple of sizes (whatever those arbitrary numbers mean) in the past year or less and have been struggling with what that MEANS to me.

      It’s interesting to turn to blogs, or even online discussions like this one, because I can tell that I am more comfortable talking about my insecurities online rather than face-to-face where my actual body is seen. Hmm.

      • That’s a strong point of the Internet, I think. Discussing the issue around other people who can see you, and whom you can see, can make talking about body image and body image issues a lot more difficult. There’s always that fear of being judged, I think.

        • I hate talking about body image around friends who “don’t look like me”. My friend who is a size zero will complain about how fat she is to the point where I have to walk out of the room. To be honest I don’t feel comfortable talking about it online either. I’m staring at the screen debating whether or not to send this. oh well

          • It’s a difficult thing to talk about, especially when we are taught that we must hate and want to change our bodies, no matter what they look like. Thank you for sharing this.

          • I don’t really like talking about it either. I think I sort of hide behind my athletic identity that I have created over the years. Everyone assumes because I exercise so much that I am comfortable and happy with my body, but just like everyone else I have things I wish I could change about my body. I never say negative things about my own body in front of people, but that’s just because they are under the impression that because I spend a large amount of time working out that I am satisfied with how I look.

          • My self-esteem and body image aren’t the best of things. I try to poke fun at myself, but that only hides the problem that I’m more disappointed in myself that I’m such an unhealthy lazy ass who really needs to start taking care of herself more.

          • That combined with a genuine attempt to keep myself from becoming too arrogant pretty much sums up why I like to self-deprecate from time to time.

      • Yeah, definitely a big fear of being judged. I don’t know how many times I’ve casually or in a non-self-abusive way mentioned my weight gain and then, without skipping a beat, someone says, “You are not fat!!” THAT’S NOT WHAT WE WANT TO HEAR.

        Meanwhile, when I come home for holidays and my brother gives me the eye, I freak out on him, yelling that I’m not that fat, and hitting him.

        But maybe that’s just my interpretation of sisterly love.

      • I imagine this goes back to the idea of anonymity that we have discussed a few times before; it seems to fuel online honesty and openness. Being without image online takes away the… competition (?) aspect of it all. The “I’m skinnier/fatter than most everyone else here” mentality. There is also the communal feeling, people who have dealt with similar (or the same) struggles as yourself.

  5. This discussion has suddenly reminded me a comic I saw on The Oatmeal, if anyone is familiar with their comics/illustrations…

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/gym

    I kind of have this thought process when I am in public/at the gym. We all, at one time or another, aspire to look like someone else but who says that person is happy with how they look? It really is a vicious cycle of depression and self-loathing… not to get too despondent.

  6. About time to wrap up. Thank you everyone again for being flexible. See you all on Thursday in the classroom at 11! Please come prepared to talk about fat positive feminism by reading the assigned pieces before class 🙂

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