THURSDAY Feb 23rd

Standard

(Making a separate post so the conversation can be less confusing)

Additional material to discuss ONLINE 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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Also: Sam sent me this link and I think it’s pretty great, if you’d like to skim: http://yrwelcome.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/why-im-fat-positive/
A snippet from her list of “Why I’m Fat Positive,” specifically looking at intersections of class, race, and size:
I’m fat positive because I work at being an anti-racist ally, and fatphobia reifies systems of power that erase the bodies of many people of color, and that stereotype, parody and ultimately nullify their experiences. For example, in order to function as an anti-welfare trope, the welfare queen must be a woman (in this case, a single woman), a single parent (careless and promiscuous), poor (irresponsible), fat (slovenly) and Black (the Other, for middle class white voters). The welfare queen stereotype relies on some level on the fatness of the subject in order to function. And, on top of that, it’s predicated on a fear of someone “taking too much,” crossing boundaries and claiming resources that aren’t hers to take, an almost predatory image of a fat woman of color. This theme of “taking what’s not yours” is repeated with communities of color when it comes to welfare, English-only ballot measures, immigrant rights, and more. And, of course, it plays a core role in fatphobia: fat people eat too much, take up too much space, and generally exist to consume.
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40 responses »

  1. I don’t know why i found myself a little uncomfortable at first when looking at the fatpeopleofcolor tumblr. It may be something about me and bigger people dressing half naked or just something deeper, inner, but I did come across several that I fell in love with,

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_ltqneqE5c11qiszjko1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6IHWSU3BX3X7X3Q&Expires=1330101197&Signature=YfaPdu%2BV2pvU1beLunin%2B4%2FBL3M%3D

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_lywhc8GsQx1qg9qxjo1_1280.png?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6IHWSU3BX3X7X3Q&Expires=1330101246&Signature=5Lu%2FX5%2B4gRcBAtceYyLREpvABao%3D

    I LOVE it when a bigger person pulls off AWESOME and sexy photos without being overly naked or obscene. It just shows to me “true” style, expecially when all odds seem against you and your still showing it off in style.

    • I think it’s really interesting that we might automatically feel uncomfortable looking at larger bodies in a blatantly sexual (and proud) way. I had a similar experience when I started becoming interested in these blogs, and eventually I confronted my impulses. It takes time, though, to counteract all of the messages we have internalized in our society.

      Here’s another article that is focusing on the “Fat and Healthy” controversy, featuring plus-size model of color giving her opinion on the matter. (picture is NSFW) http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2012/02/health-controversy-can-you-be-fat-and-healthy#1

    • I actually felt the same way regarding the bbw nudity photos… Feel bad for saying that. As for the fashion element, really cool find Kate. It’s really neat to see that anyone can be (and are) empowered by fashion. I know, from my perspective, regardless of how I look physically, if I put on the right clothes nothing can spoil my confidence. Overall, very neat blogs with some great messages and a few messages that I didn’t necessarily agree with. But hey, everyone is entitled to their opinion and if it makes someone feel good about themselves then so be it!

  2. What did you all think about the Adipositivity and Definatalie.com pieces? (And/or the “Why I’m Fat Positive” manifesto that Sam suggested, if you got a chance to glance through it.) I’d like to break these down and possibly discuss the movement itself more. Feel free to keep browsing the tumblrs though 🙂

    • The fact that many of the pictures are NSFW, and sexual, seems to be their attempt to dispel the myth that fat people can’t be sexual or sexy, which is a good message to send.

    • Both had really admirable/interesting messages. it felt like definatalie promoted the fact that everyone is of different body types regardless of lifestyle. It addressed some issues I was unaware of; specifically how obese patients are not treated seriously by doctors (I am unaware how universal and legitimate this claim is but disturbing nontheless). Adipositivity obviously was more visual oriented, an area I think all of us claimed as feeling at least somewhat uncomfortable with so it would seem that its (adipositivity’s) goal is more likely to strike a chord with a greater demographic of visitors. This also seems to be consistent with how many people feel on social issues: we can back the political element but when the actually issue is thrusted forward (in the case of nude photography here) we are somewhat more apprehensive.

      • The healthcare/doctor treatment is a very interesting point. I have friends who classify as obese, according to the BMI, and they have reported feeling belittled and criticized by their doctors even when they are eating healthy and being active. The interesting thing is that I am never really asked about my own diet and exercise plan, although perhaps I “should” be, yet it’s THE first thing that my friends are asked about or criticized for, regardless of the issue’s relevance.

  3. How you gunna expect me to focus on class when the links are tumblogs?! I LOVED the Chubstr blog, partly because some of the first images I saw were of Eric Wareheim (can’t describe my love for him and Tim Heidecker) and good ole’ Philip Seymour Hoffman. I love all the blogs though.
    One thought though:
    The tumblrs defnitely emphasize a focus on fashion. I find it interesting that that is such a huge part of these blogs. I guess I see it as: someone who is large is bombarded daily by images of skinny people in beautiful clothing. Or really cool clothing in shop windows, that are obviously so small they wouldn’t fit. So fashion becomes something that, along with their naked bodies, they must reclaim from a society that has said “You can’t do fashion.”

  4. I hate when people say that if a person is obese it is they’re own fault, they’re disgusting, they have bad self control. and they don’t care about how they look. Its all about resources and education. If you live in an urban neighborhood where frozen food, boxed dinners, and junk food is cheaper, then you may not partake in healthy eating habits. Its also harder to eat healthier when you’re not taught about health and portion size. My grandparents and some of there kids grew up in Mississippi and food down there is high in calories, deep fried. smothered in gravy, and are in bigger portions. I was never taught about eating healthy as a kid. I didn’t even eat food, I ate chips and candy.

    • I actually wanted to bring that up as well. I think this area is not addressed enough and it’s a concept backed by reality. At the same time, I am finding a lot of television programs (especially for younger children) do an excellent job highlighting the significance of health and diet. Perhaps this will allow, or at minimum push, for a change in the younger generations.

      • and I just realized how that sounded (SORRY). A change in health lifestyles, not necessarily change one’s amount of bodyfat. This is something I need to work on because in my mind health and fat are synonymous…

    • Yeah, where and how someone was raised is a huge part of how they live. Food that’s cheap also tends to be food that’s unhealthy, so for people growing up in poor families…

      • This is true, but I’ve noticed living here that it almost feels opposite (somewhat). The co-op out on 13 to the west of town isn’t terribly priced while places like taco-bell are ridiculous. However, the image of fast food being readily available (and everywhere!) trumps the few more organic places out and around town.

    • Thank you for bringing this up! The intersections between class and geographic location play a large part in both a person’s size, education, access to resources, AND access to a supportive community.

      The institution of education is very relevant here, and I feel like other institutions participate in this as well (obviously healthcare and the media, but also family, government…)

    • I definitely agree about how big of an impact education and availability of resources have on the issue of weight gain. I still don’t always eat healthy, I’m guilty of eating junk food every once in awhile but you can still eat unhealthy things just in moderation. I do remember learning a lot about the food pyramid as a child growing up, I think in health class. I was taught basically that most foods that are green are good for you, and anything that grows out of the ground. It’s hard when you’re younger to eat healthy because most children don’t prepare their own food. So I think it’s kind of up to parents to provide healthy options for their children and then educate them on how to continue living healthy as they get older. There are so many resources available to use now, with all the information in books, on the internet, and even on television shows about healthy living that I think our country should be better suited in the years to come about the benefits to eating healthy.

      • Oh yeah, there’s another good point, a lot of kids don’t eat well because they don’t really have a choice in the matter. Not preparing your own food makes it difficult to eat well.

        • True. My sister is a divorcee. Once she gets off of work at 6, she picks up my nephew from school and takes him to McDonalds. After school shes either at choir rehearsal or working as an event planner. She has no time to cook and he very picky with what he eats which makes it even more difficult. He prefers junk over real food. Its a good thing hes a kid and very active. Hes all skin and bones lol

      • Completely agreed. I do believe there has been a culture shift in the last decade that does promote healthier lifestyles and it’s excellent to see that being instilled in children. Sure, location plays in, but I don’t think it is as bad as it was 20-30 years ago.

    • “If you live in an urban neighborhood where frozen food, boxed dinners, and junk food is cheaper, then you may not partake in healthy eating habits.”

      You just described my diet at home. My mom works two jobs and never has time to cook something unless she had the day off and my brother and I don’t really know how to cook, so we’re all kind of forced to eat what we can get. Of course, I could always learn how to cook and ask my mom to get some decent food that I could turn into decent meals, but I’m not sure if that would be more expensive or not than frozen dinners.

  5. I’m having a hard time trying to put my feelings about this topic properly into words. Forgive me if I come off as a douche.

    On the one hand, I love the fact that people are realizing and acknowledging that fat doesn’t automatically equal unhealthy and thin doesn’t automatically equal healthy. I actually brought up Health at Every Size during a conversation in another completely unrelated class on Tuesday. In my group, I was the thinnest person, but I also noticed that I was most likely the unhealthiest one too, mainly because my diet is crap and I don’t really exercise (both things I’m going to work on when I graduate and have more time). I’m also totally envious of how confident all of these people seem. They’re showing off their bodies to a world that thinks that being fat is gross and I applaud them for that. I wish I had that kind of confidence.

    On the other hand, a good chunk of people who are fat are most likely not exercising or eating right or whatever, so I’m not really sure what to make of the whole fat positive thing. I mean, why is the United States so obese anyway? I doubt everyone is really trying to become healthy regardless of their weight. Does the fat positive thing include people who are just fat because they’re lazy? But then again, I don’t do these things either, but you really wouldn’t know that easily, so that’s kind of an unfair argument. Plus, not everyone has the time, money, or ability to exercise or eat healthy, so that’s a unfair as well. I’m also in this category. The only difference is that I’m not fat.

    I don’t know. I know weight =/= health, but it’s still a factor. I’m just trying to not be a judgmental asshole, but it’s really hard not to associate people who are very viably fat with healthy. Blah.

    • I think I can understand where you’re coming from. I’d say that one response from a fat positive perspective is – why is it anyone’s business whether they do or do not exercise/work on their health? The problem is we equate it with *worth* (and beauty!) as well as health, when really everyone should have the possibility to feel beautiful and worthwhile regardless of what they are doing to their bodies. This is a tough and frustrating argument to take in, though.

      • And there, I think, is a core part of this issue that we’ve all been overlooking. Even with the connection that DOES exist between weight and health (and even though the two are not the same, there is at least some connection), whose business is it if someone takes care of themselves? Certainly not mine.

        • Yeah, but then you can make the argument that if someone doesn’t take care of themselves then they obviously don’t care what other people think of them which makes them subject to ridicule, so…but then we really shouldn’t care what other people do with themselves…but then you get into a whole ethics thing about whether or not something is permissible if it doesn’t have an immediate effect on other people but can…argh. I don’t know. I’m rambling.

          • I think there is a privilege aspect that comes into this: all of these things can go on for all sorts of body shapes, but only one class is forced to deal with it constantly.

          • The point that I (rather poorly, admittedly) am trying to make is that there is no real logical reason why we should be subjecting people to ridicule based on their (intentional or otherwise) lifestyle choices.

      • I guess it’s just harder to sympathize if someone is actively adding to their weight. I think being morbidly obese and plus-size are two different things…. for example, I stated feeling a little uncomfortable looking at the nudes on adipositivity BUT the Health Controversy article with Anansa Sims… she looks beautiful and healthy despite claiming herself as plus-size.

    • I was the same way (lifestyle wise). Skinny as a rail, ate like crap. However, come my freshman year my metabolism screeched to a halt and I put on the freshman twenty. I was terrified but I did opt to start working out more since eating healthy was a struggle… I am an extremely picky eater… even now. Working out isn’t difficult or pricy: take a jog around your block after work/before dinner, do some sit-ups/push-ups before bed (you’ll sleep like a baby too!).

      I feel the same way, although feeling great about yourself is key I did wonder how in control of their health a lot of these models are. I think the U.S. struggles more than most others because of our fast food culture. It’s amazing how little fast food eateries exist in most of Europe at least by comparison. It’s not douchey, just food for thought.

  6. Also, from personal experience, if the parents are not persistent and don’t force the children to eat their vegetables or other healthy foods then they will probably let them eat whatever they want. Growing up I was one of the pickiest eaters. My parents would have me try so many different kinds of food, but all I seemed to like to eat was chicken nuggets, ice cream, milk, cookies, and french fries. I would go through stages where I would only eat like 5 different things for months. Finally in high school I started eating a little bit better, and trying some new things. So now my list is about 10 things long.. not even exaggerating. It was important for me as I got older to find things that I liked to eat that were a little bit healthier though than ice cream and cookies. I was made more aware of the negative effects of eating poorly, and so I now do my best to incorporate fruits, veggies, protein, and carbs in my diet.

  7. Interesting discussion today as usual. Thank you AGAIN for being patient with me. Next week, we will be discussing transgender portrayal online, specifically looking at the use of YouTube videos. AND! We will have a special online guest next week.

    Remember to do your blog post for this week – if you have not already – by 6pm. Thanks again, and have a great weekend! Vitamin C for all!

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