Previous Entry | Next Entry

SO WHAT if we're FAT?

bad day kitten
In her Fat, Ugly and Pissed post, Carla/seeksadventure makes some points that deeply discomfited me. Please understand, I'm not trying to point fingers at anyone except myself, and those people who say lousy things. I'm thinking on keyboard here, and ask y'all to think with me, not believe I'm accusing anyone here.

Our first instinct, when someone claims we fangirls are fat and ugly (which must be the only reason why we protest comics art and writing, not because we have intellectual and social issues), is to establish our non-fat, non-ugly credentials. It's so understandable. We are brainwashed all our lives to perceive our value in terms of a fluctuating value for thinness in our society. It's rubbed in our faces by the media and by our own families, by parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who ask if we aren't getting kinda big; maybe we should exercise more; haven't we gained a lot of weight. I've had friends reduced to nightly tears as the adults in their lives hound them about what they eat, and as their peers ranks out on them for what they weigh. Girls weight-check each other constantly, and boys are allowed to make remarks about what girls weigh without anyone calling them on it. I've had total strangers yell at me from passing cars to insult my weight.

Is it any wonder that we immediate rush to establish our slender credentials, immediately followed by our attractiveness credentials? Are we really so far from the world in which an unattractive woman was a corner woman, an attic woman, a nursery woman, a useless woman? Women who doubt their looks (and their parents) make plastic surgeons wealthy. No wonder we all jump like frogs touched with wires through which current is being run.

We're having a helluva time breaking this conditioning. Maybe we need to start breaking its hold over us. Maybe we need to stop jumping to the defense of our own looks, and start telling ourselves, "I'm more than what's outside. I'm not defined by a cruel social demand for my body and face."

And there is a still more vicious subtext to the idea that women who protect anything to do with "attractive women" are ugly and fat.

It is that ugly and/or unattractive women have no right to an opinion.

None. They probably don't even have a right to exist. But no one wants to hear from them unless they're slender and pretty.

WHAT?

Since when is any woman barred from the right to express an opinion? Once we start qualifying what kind of woman has the right to express herself, for any reason, don't we become as oppressive as the society we are trying to change?

Looks don't matter. Weight doesn't matter. It's the voice that matters.

We need to stand up for each other, for all of us. Skinny, fat, attractive, nondescript, downright ugly. We need to break this idea that women are valued first for their looks, then for what's between their ears. And we need to get in the faces of those who would cause us to tell each other, even inadvertently, "I'm prettier than you."

That's my thinkage. I may not be good at the practice, but I'd like to get better at it, be more aware.

Comments

( 93 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
tekanji
Jun. 12th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)
It is that ugly and/or unattractive women have no right to an opinion.

Bravo. I've never seen that "you're just bitter because you're fat and ugly" argument distilled down better than this.

Although I do think part of it is that we aren't quite at the point where women are truly allowed the right to an opinion. We're lauded for our intelligence as long as we don't question the status quo, but if we step too far out of bounds then we're invalidated because of our looks (the flip side to the "ugly/fat" barb is the "bimbo" or "sexbot" argument which I have, unfortunately, seen way too many people use... and sadly enough more than a few of them are feminists, but that's a rant for another day).

The bottom line is that women are still second class citizens. We might have the right to vote and enjoy certain legal equalities, but we're still seen as sexual objects first and everything else second. We're constantly filtered through that lens by the media, by our family, by our friends, by strangers, and all of us interalize that to a certain extent and start doing it to ourselves.

It needs to stop, but I don't know what to do aside from continuing to consciousness-raise. I wish I could find a more active solution to the problem :(
severedscythe
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
I just want to print this out and give it to my brother. I really, really do.

Thankyou.
(no subject) - tekanji - Jun. 13th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 14th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tekanji - Jun. 14th, 2007 09:10 am (UTC) - Expand
stardance
Jun. 12th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
The problem is that then when you say "How I look doesn't matter," that's "proof" that you really are fat and ugly.
white_jasmin
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
Fat and Ugly are only labels that people and society place upon us. If we hear them enough, we start to believe them.

Who defined what 'ugly' means? Who actually say down with a pen and paper and listed qualities in women that are undesirable and turned to the person next to them and said "I decree that if a women has any of these qualities then we shall call her ugly."

Ugly is such an ugly word.

Why is weight always connected to ugliness?

And why is standing up and saying "How I look doesn't matter," proof that you are fat and ugly? That statement can mean many things. It can be placing a value on personality instead of looks, it can be a defensive statement against what society is telling you, or it can be a shield against other people's comments regarding your looks and from your own thoughts.

How you look shouldn't matter. It shouldn't reduce your credibility and people have no right to comment upon how you look and to label weight or "ugliness" as flaws. People need to stop placing value and giving credit or devaluing and discrediting people based upon how someone looks. We need to stop doing it to ourselves.





(no subject) - stardance - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - white_jasmin - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stardance - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ricevermicelli - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stardance - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - furikku - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stardance - Jun. 13th, 2007 01:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ricevermicelli - Jun. 13th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stardance - Jun. 13th, 2007 01:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ricevermicelli - Jun. 13th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - white_jasmin - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
sarcastic_kitty
Jun. 12th, 2007 10:30 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about something along these lines last night, because my dad does the samething to me--tends to use my weight as an argument that I don't count (And you know everything? You're dumb and fat.)

I think it's disgusting, too. At school (just as an example), class officer elections are decided on looks--so the shallow, pretty girl can easily win the election, but the girl with the opinions can't, because she's overweight or isn't as attractive as the other candidate (that even dominates sports, when my bid for captain was beaten out by a prettier girl).

I just wish people would look beyond that, you know? Not everyone is blessed with good looks, but everyone's opinions are always valid.
tammy212
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:21 am (UTC)
I'm sorry about your dad. Can you ask him if he loves you, and if he says he does, then ask him why he says you're dumb and fat? How does he expect you to have any value for yourself if all you hear is negative speaking?

We can work toward a more positive view, even if it is just one person at a time. What else is the internet but a place where we can be who we are inside?
(no subject) - sarcastic_kitty - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarcastic_kitty - Jun. 13th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 14th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC) - Expand
morgan_dhu
Jun. 12th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a wonderful rant.

Truly, there is an enormous streak of misogyny in the idea that "fat" or "ugly" women may not express ideas without being questioned as to how their presumed lack of ability to attract a male (oh, such a vital thing to have, who could even want to live without being chosen by one?) affects their opinion.

Because of course, only women who are of use to men in the most important of ways - physically - can be permitted to express their thoughts - but not too loudly, not too daringly, not without the imprimatur of a master to authorise their speaking.

And because, of course, all women who are not whatever is supposed to be sexy in this place and time are obsessed, at all times, with trying to get a man anyway, or change the rules so that they can get a man, or keep the man they somehow managed to get. That's the only reason a "fat, ugly" woman would protest anything having to do with standards of beauty - to get herself somehow included so she too can get and keep a man.

Arrrggghhh. I think I'll go scream loudly somewhere.

It doesn't help that the last two books I've read have been excellent and profoundly dystopic feminist sf novels that have really got me thinking about all kinds of stuff like this and feeling very angry - Gwyneth Jones' Life and Timmel Duchamp's Alanya to Alanya.

I must go read something equally excellent and profoundly feminist, but positive and hopeful - like one of your books. ;-)

tammy212
Jun. 14th, 2007 12:21 am (UTC)
>>Truly, there is an enormous streak of misogyny in the idea that "fat" or "ugly" women may not express ideas without being questioned as to how their presumed lack of ability to attract a male (oh, such a vital thing to have, who could even want to live without being chosen by one?) affects their opinion.<<

"A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
or,
everyone wants underwear with skid marks on her floor.

>>Because of course, only women who are of use to men in the most important of ways - physically - can be permitted to express their thoughts - but not too loudly, not too daringly, not without the imprimatur of a master to authorise their speaking.<<

Yeah--it's not like the approved ones are let off their leashes, either. It's just that their leashes are padded.

Mind, I have a good man. He doesn't leash me; I don't leash him. I know other good men, men who don't think the women in their lives are appurtenances. Moreover, they don't act as if it were a major struggle for them to come to this realization, which is why I get so furious with those men and women who are still bogged down in the idea of woman-as-passable-accessory. It's not hard to grow up and beyond such concrete, immature thinking, so why don't they try to do it? Because it's hard, or uncomfortable? So's being kicked in the ass with a Jimmy Choo shoe, but I'll arrange it if that will fix the problem, and I hate Jimmy Choos.

>>And because, of course, all women who are not whatever is supposed to be sexy in this place and time are obsessed, at all times, with trying to get a man anyway, or change the rules so that they can get a man, or keep the man they somehow managed to get.<<

Please. We have cool stuff to do. If they like us, fine. If they don't, they can paddle their own canoes.

>> That's the only reason a "fat, ugly" woman would protest anything having to do with standards of beauty - to get herself somehow included so she too can get and keep a man.<<

In a fish tank?

With or without aeration?

>>Arrrggghhh. I think I'll go scream loudly somewhere.<<

Don't--it's bad for your throat. Or have a nice hot toddy on hand for after.

>>It doesn't help that the last two books I've read have been excellent and profoundly dystopic feminist sf novels that have really got me thinking about all kinds of stuff like this and feeling very angry<<

Ouchie.

(no subject) - morgan_dhu - Jun. 14th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC) - Expand
prydera
Jun. 12th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
You hit the nail on the head. It's just another type of marginalization and one that we seem to do to ourselves more than some other types. I've had some friends who've been involved in things trying to fight fatphobia and I know it's been hard going.

I may not be good at the practice, but I'd like to get better at it, be more aware.

Me too.
tammy212
Jun. 14th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC)
>>It's just another type of marginalization and one that we seem to do to ourselves more than some other types. I've had some friends who've been involved in things trying to fight fatphobia and I know it's been hard going.<<

It's hard going, but it's worth it. If we can't accept ourselves and each other, we're gonna have a helluva time with the rest of the world.
zodiacal_light
Jun. 12th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
I'm fat. I'm 5'4" and 200 lbs. It's mostly in my stomach and breasts, so I have these really skinny arms and legs that serve to make me look odd.

My dad was one of those people who always brought up the "well, you're fat!" 'argument' as a reason why I was worthless and stupid. Fortunately, the rat bastard's out of my life, now.

Had some 'friends' at college who pulled the same shit, but by that point I was fed up with it. I finally rounded on one (they hadn't yet realized I had a temper) and said, "Yes, I'm fat. That has what, exactly, to do with the topic at hand?" (I don't remember what we were arguing about, but like almost every other time my weight has been used against me, the argument itself had nothing to do with weight.)

They were stunned. They sputtered. Me directly acknowledging my weight and dismissing it as unimportant was something they couldn't handle. I found that really sad, and for them, too.

I think, in retrospect, that was the moment I really moved from seeing my weight as shameful to seeing it as just me.

But it's interesting - I haven't gotten a fat comment in several years. (Two, I think.) I don't really know why. My sister, on the other hand, is one of those conventionally beautiful, skinny girls. She thinks she's fat. People have used the same fat-shaming techniques to bash her, and now she's obsessed with her weight and has tried to kill herself.

This. has. got. to. stop.

And yet whenever anyone brings it up, someone inevitably pulls out the whole "but fat is just BAD!" line, and everyone kinda slinks away.

...I dunno. Sorry for the disjointed ramble...
tammy212
Jun. 14th, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
>>My dad was one of those people who always brought up the "well, you're fat!" 'argument' as a reason why I was worthless and stupid. Fortunately, the rat bastard's out of my life, now.<<

Good. Sometimes the only thing you can do with family like that is dump them. (Says product of dysfunctional mother.)

>> I finally rounded on one (they hadn't yet realized I had a temper) and said, "Yes, I'm fat. That has what, exactly, to do with the topic at hand?" ... Me directly acknowledging my weight and dismissing it as unimportant was something they couldn't handle. I found that really sad, and for them, too. ... I think, in retrospect, that was the moment I really moved from seeing my weight as shameful to seeing it as just me.<<

My hat's off. I never got this far.

>>My sister, on the other hand, is one of those conventionally beautiful, skinny girls. She thinks she's fat. People have used the same fat-shaming techniques to bash her, and now she's obsessed with her weight and has tried to kill herself.<<

Oh, no. I'm so sorry. It would be better if she got a Louisville Slugger and bashed them.

>>This. has. got. to. stop.<<

Yes.

>>And yet whenever anyone brings it up, someone inevitably pulls out the whole "but fat is just BAD!" line, and everyone kinda slinks away.<<

It's PERSONAL. It's no one's business but that of the person who's fat. It isn't public property. You wouldn't talk about someone's eczema, or birthmark, or hair color, or teeth (not if you had any manners, anyway)--their weight is also no one else's business. Sticking your nose where it isn't WANTED is bad. Transfering your neuroses about weight onto someone else is BAD. Being a busybody is intolerable. These people need to tend their own knitting, and stop making others miserable.

>>...I dunno. Sorry for the disjointed ramble...<<

Don't apologize. You said a lot of heartrending things about how carelessly vicious people are, especially people who claim to be "friends."

We need to get away from this. We need to stop branding people with their looks, or we are always going to be ruled by panic over our appearances, and not over what we have inside.
(no subject) - shilohmm - Jun. 14th, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
amyreading
Jun. 12th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
Hi Ms. Pierce,
This has weighed on me heavily since Friday, and I do mean that with all Puns and Insinuations Implied. Bodies are What I Do, literally, as in, with literature. Bodies are What I Am, literally, as in, I am a Body, and I've existed in this body for 30 years, and it's been a rather bumpy ride.

As in, I'm Rather Bumpy, myself.

And it's a tough road, one that hits men and women, certainly, but particularly women. The expectations. The assumptions.

I saw every part of this argument as you did, but also, I felt sad for those girls not considered, by those standards, to be in the "fat, ugly girls" camp, too (as if there is such a camp, but you understand what I mean). Because the other implication of All Of This is that *skinny, pretty girls are dumb* and *"fat" girls, not being "pretty" by social standards, must be smart because they have nothing better to do since men won't bother with them*. Heterosexual imperatives aside, the hidden implication is that anyone who has time to read comic books, discuss bodies in them, and find things to complain about in the presentation of bodies 1) has time to do those things, 2) is smart enough to read into things, 3) is certainly not a pretty, skinny girl because those girls are too busy being skinny and pretty.

For me, this argument becomes even more complicated as it reinforces the 3 choices I know I was presented with as a young girl:
You can be Pretty.
You can be Smart.
or,
You can be Athletic.

But never shall they meet together.

It saddens me that still, 20+ years after I suffered through all of this, 10+ years after I began My Personal Fight against it, that seemingly, *nothing has changed*.

Although, it has, as we are discussing it, openly, without fear of reprisal.

Thank you, Ms. Pierce, for discussing this, so openly. And further, thank you for the strong voice you offer, the strong heroines you offer, the *choice* you offer. You, and writers like you, are the hope in the Wasteland.
Ciao,
Amy
tammy212
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:25 am (UTC)
Amy, welcome!

Actually, I was about to mount my rant about attractive girls and their lives ain't so hot last week when all this came up. I'm going to try to get to it tomorrow.

The person you should be thanking for the discussion, though, is Carla/seeksadventure. Her post was the one that had me tied up in knots all weekend, like you. I just hope I did her justice.
(no subject) - amyreading - Jun. 13th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC) - Expand
resolute
Jun. 12th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
::Shrug::

I am fat, most assuredly. And I'm sorts funny lookin'. And I am socially awkward. And I am pedantic.

I still get an opinion.

Mostly, when I hear the "you're just fat and ugly" argument I say, "yes, and I am also correct, would you care to reply on the merits or would you like to engage in further irrelevant attacks?"

I sort of think that people who say "you're fat" as their main argument have lost the conflict right there. Like, ooh, that was your best shot? Okay, dude, email me your concession speech.

Er.

Among my previously listed traits, I may also be arrogant.

I agree, though, completely, that the argument as a cultural norm is hideously problematic, for the reasons you state. Because truly, only the thin and attractive are even supposed to be correct. ::winces::
tammy212
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
>>Mostly, when I hear the "you're just fat and ugly" argument I say, "yes, and I am also correct, would you care to reply on the merits or would you like to engage in further irrelevant attacks?"<<

God, I want to be you when I grow up.

Actually, I do a lot better now, at 52, with accomplishment under my belt. Fifteen years ago I would still go all wobbly in the knees and blank in the head. Behold my issues and brainwashing!

>>I sort of think that people who say "you're fat" as their main argument have lost the conflict right there. Like, ooh, that was your best shot? Okay, dude, email me your concession speech.<<

This made me cackle with glee!

>>Among my previously listed traits, I may also be arrogant.<<

I like it!

>>I agree, though, completely, that the argument as a cultural norm is hideously problematic, for the reasons you state. Because truly, only the thin and attractive are even supposed to be correct. ::winces::<<

Which is hysterical, given the number of thin assholes that parade across our media screens each and every day, and who write/edit/draw our comic books. I reserve a special sock in the eye for Eddie Murphy.
bunnikat
Jun. 12th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
It's dangerous too. It messes girls up, being told that we're not worth anything to anyone else because we're fat and therefore ugly. When I was 18 I was something like 5ft6in tall and 245 pounds. My whole life I can remember being teased and insulted and generally treated as worth less for being over weight. You know what that led to? Essentially anorexia/bulemia, and me at 5ft6in and only 105 pounds when I turned 20. Making girls think the only way they'll be liked is if they starve themselves skinny isn't healthy, and it isn't right. I'm not anorexic anymore, but I'm still really messed up about what it's 'ok' to look like/weigh. And it's not right, and it's not fair. I shouldn't have to worry and be sick over how much weight I've gained. I hate society, it disgusts me, and I hate that it has power over me. I picked up a book the other day called The Beauty Myth, How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women which I haven't gotten very far in to yet but is very interesting.

Anyway. That wasn't terribly coherrent, but I just wanted to say that I agree with you a lot, and that you've been a role model of sorts for me since I first read the Song of the Lioness quartet when I was something like 12 :)
glamazonwarrior
Jun. 12th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
ugly and/or unattractive women have no right to an opinion.

I was thinking about this very thing this morning, as I was walking to work. That line by that lady, who described women who have issues with the Heroes for Hire cover as fat and ugly. (I think it was that; maybe it was the MJ statue, though there was plenty of that sort of commentary, too.)

My thoughts were that the sentiment could be parsed out into two segments:
1. Attractive women don't care if they (or, perhaps, other women) are second class citizens, and exist and are valuable only as long as they retain ornamental value; and

2. If someone fails to be ornamental enough, then they have no rights to an opinion, or to object to the subjugation of others.

Parsed out, it's clear just what bullshit such a sentiment is. I have known plenty of women who are conventionally attractive, and all of them would object rather strenuously to the first part. And the idea that one only has mental capacity if they are sufficiently ornamental is ridiculous on its face.

Synchronicity.
kadymae
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)
What I was trying to do when I posted my pic/called for others to do so and to sign up for the "ugly fat girl" club was to get people to show that even if they were size 0 or size 30, that we women (and men) who challenge the Status Quo were now "fat ugly girls" -- and by posting pictures of our "fat ugly girl" selves (in all of our variety of shapes and sizes and features) we'd help doubly underscore the stupidity of that phrase, and also reclaim them as a matter of pride. But I did a crap job of articulating that idea. :/

Like I just said in the LJ you linked, from here on out, if somebody calls me a Fat Ugly Girl, I'm taking it as a sign I'm on the right track.
tammy212
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
I think we're all fumbling our way around articulating the complex thoughts this whole issue brought up for all of us. We want to say, each and every one of us is an individual, irregardless of our looks, and deserves to be treated as a mind and a wit, not as a construct of looks.

That's what I got from your post, anyway. That we are real people, not some hostile apologist for the male status quo's misdirection cartoons.
(no subject) - misatokatsuragi - Jun. 13th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kadymae - Jun. 13th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - justjess - Jun. 13th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC) - Expand
arcana_j
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:07 am (UTC)
Sounds like we need t-shirts!

http://www.oneangrygirl.net/fascist.htm

tammy212
Jun. 17th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
>>Sounds like we need t-shirts!<<

Yes, we do! Thanks for the link!
(Deleted comment)
tammy212
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
>>You make good words!<<

I make majorly pissed off words, but I dress them up sexy. ;-)
severedscythe
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
Y'know, we were talking about this in history. In Australia, women weren't given equal pay for equal work until 1967. And although we had the right to vote in the 1920's, it wasn't really exercised because hey, what would a woman know?

years ago, overweight women were sought after by men. Even preffered. It's odd, how things change.
tammy212
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
>>years ago, overweight women were sought after by men. Even preffered. It's odd, how things change.<<

Lily Langtry, one of the great beauties of the late 1800s, weighed over 200 lbs. Marilyn Monroe was said to weight about 145.
(no subject) - severedscythe - Jun. 13th, 2007 02:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rpggurleli - Jun. 13th, 2007 10:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rpggurleli - Jun. 13th, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - morchades - Jun. 14th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rpggurleli - Jun. 14th, 2007 10:51 am (UTC) - Expand
beautifuldorian
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
You want to know something? I'm a fat ugly girl, and I object to the dehumanization of women in any media, and the two have NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER. Omfg! one might say, but it is possible. Why, you might wonder?

Because my objection to these drawings is based on my dislike of seeing any woman made into a sex object. It has nothing to do with jealousy. I wouldn't have titties like those pointy saucer-nippled things those superhero women have if I were paid to take them! Sure, I'd like to be beautiful. But the thing is, those drawings AREN'T beautiful. They're sickeningly overenhanced, and that's what we object to. If people are brainwashed to think those comic book looks should be on real women, then the 'social standard' of beauty will go even further down the toilet.

The problem here is that the people making those pictures WANT women to look like that, because they've been conditioned to think of women as toys. That's what we have a problem with - the objectualization of women. Because nobody looks like that. No real woman, no real -man-. Because people usually aren't beautiful. Beauty is something special. Real people are fat, ugly, have saggy boobs or only one dimple or eyes set too deep in their heads.

So yes, maybe I am objecting because I'm fat and ugly. Because humans -are- fat, or ugly, far more often than they're not, and it's ridiculous to keep setting standards that no real person can achieve. It's ridiculous to say that no matter how smart a woman is, or how talented, that if she doesn't have a body like a Barbie doll, she's not a superhero.

You want to know something? I know a fat, ugly superhero. I call her Mom. I know a lot of superheroes - skinny, fat, funny looking, plain, bowlegged or chip-toothed or any of those things - and yet every single one of them is still a woman, still God to her children. It's not until we grow up, and get old and jaded and obsessed with what Hollywood thinks, that we realize our mother isn't the most beautiful woman on the planet. And you know what?

That's okay. Because when you're a child, beauty means something entirely different. And I'm tired of everyone forgetting that. You don't have to be beautiful or skinny for someone to love you. A superhero doesn't have to look like a porn star to do good things - or to make money for the people selling her story.

If only the editors agreed.




kadymae
Jun. 13th, 2007 01:36 am (UTC)
I know a fat, ugly superhero. I call her Mom

My favorite participant on Stan Lee's Superhero show was "Fat Momma."
That woman rocked.
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
rosepurr
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
Hear! Hear!

I already responded to Seeksadventure's response to this, just to say, "Me too." But I think it needs repeating again and again and again.

It is so, so, so important that we look to the underlying message in the comments, opinions, movies, comic books, blogs, even TV commercials. And, as feminists, we need to make sure that we are addressing, not just the issue thrown into our face, but the underlying assumptions that create those issues.

*That's* how we change the world.
tammy212
Jun. 13th, 2007 06:13 pm (UTC)
>>*That's* how we change the world. <<

Because putting up with this stuff is no alternative.
(no subject) - rosepurr - Jun. 13th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
cschells
Jun. 13th, 2007 12:44 am (UTC)
My reaction doesn't probably engage directly with what you're saying (or maybe I'm just reiterating what you're saying), but when I consider the body image problem (to simplify a lot), I can't help eventually coming back to the larger problem of what we as a society are feeding our brains. I think popular culture and mainstream media are equal opportunity stupidifiers. I don't like the models or standards they propose for girls, but I also don't care for the models or standards they propose for boys. Or for human beings in general, if it's even possible to think that popular culture has something non-gendered to say about people. It's bad to have to struggle with the idea that your worth is tied to your weight, and to be teased or discriminated against because of you appearance, but it is also bad (maybe worse?) to live with such a diminished capacity for thought and compassion that you would propagate those kinds of messages instinctively. And, unfortunately, I think most of us do--at least occasionally. But I don't think we'll get far resolving the beauty/worth/gender problems until we accept that mainstream media, with its alternating messages of fear and consumption (as in, "the world is a terrible place and you are powerless--here, buy a burger and an SUV!"), is... well... junk food. And should not be valued or consumed at the rate that we're currently valuing and consuming it.
furikku
Jun. 13th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
Hay, I was totally ranting on this earlier today!

Yeah, I think the problem comes because people tend to immediately jump to "oh shi I got attacked, ENGAGE QUICK DEFENSE MODE!" without pausing to go, "Hang on, let's analyse this using Shiny Logic." Thus, they try to hone in on what looks like the weakest point in the argument ("Hey, I'm not fat/ugly! Here is my proof!"), which is actually a Magical Deflector Plate.

Arguments are tricksy and false things, especially illogical ones.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 13th, 2007 01:42 am (UTC)
I bellydance with a troupe. I am often approached by women after a performance who say wistfully, "I'd love to learn how to do that, but I'm too old and/or fat." Many times I am shocked by the women who say these things, because you wouldn't guess from their physical appearance. Even when I tell them that performances are optional, that women of all ages and sizes are welcome, they give me the same answer. Somehow because they feel they aren't a sultry 20-something, size 6 "I Dream of Jeannie" fantasy ideal, they judge themselves as unfit. It's terrible.

I think it's kind of funny that though I am heavier than I was in high school, I am so much more confident and comfortable in my body thanks to dancing. Yeah, I get up in public and dance in what amounts to an overdecorated bra, and yeah, it's damn scary, putting my double-digit-size body on display and wondering if people are thinking I'd be prettier if I lost weight. But hey, they can stuff it. I'm not going to let their small minds stop me from pursuing something I love.

And that, I think, is the greatest tragedy about poor body image: when it prevents someone from reaching for their dreams, especially a small, private thing like taking dance lessons, which might even help them to love their body as is. It's a vicious cycle.

(Anonymous)
Jun. 13th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
I actually find that for bellydancing, you have to have a bit of flesh on your hips. Being skinny as a rail doesn't really work.
I know this is off topic, but there ya go.
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 13th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
andyleggett
Jun. 13th, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)
Raise your fist, sistah!
Personally, I find what's between a person's ears to be far more important than what's in front of it--I mean, someone can be drop dead gorgeous and absolutely horrible on the inside and I wouldn't want to be around them any more.

But I am also of the opinion that beauty has no narrow definition. I find different levels of beauty in almost everything and everyone; just because one is heavier or has a different facial structure does not make them unattractive.
tammy212
Jun. 15th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
Re: Raise your fist, sistah!
>>But I am also of the opinion that beauty has no narrow definition. I find different levels of beauty in almost everything and everyone; just because one is heavier or has a different facial structure does not make them unattractive.<<

Very true--I've also found that when I care about someone, they become very attractive to me.

Here the point is that it's only what's between their ears that matters; that the moment someone start rating another person's opinions by their looks, s/he reveals only what a true idiot s/he is. Sadly, too many people like that are mouthing off online, making others miserable.
juno_magic
Jun. 13th, 2007 08:16 am (UTC)
Great post.

A few weeks ago I read something at the Feministe blog that absolutely *jumped* out at me: how sad it is, when women act as if telling them "you're fat and ugly" is the worst thing someone can say to them or about them.

What happened to "smart", "funny", "friendly", "nice"?

(But of course it has also become "cool" to call each other "bitch" ...)

And it doesn't stop at appearances. Our society is all about competition. There's this non-stop pressure of measuring up, of comparing your life to those "others".

It's not only about being thin and pretty, but about having the right kind of career, and the right kind of money, the right kind of success, the right kind of husband or partner, the right kind of kids at the right time in your life, and so on and so on and so on.

I've also noticed that it's often not the men anymore who put you down. Lately I've encountered more and more women who are trying to tell other women (in sometimes more, sometimes less subtle ways) how a woman is supposed to live her life. Many just want to help the feminist cause, I do appreciate that. But personally I simply dislike being told how I'm supposed to live my life and what's supposed to be a rewarding way of life.

I guess the core issue is really respect. If you don't really respect yourself, your looks, your choices in life, then you can't respect others.
tammy212
Jun. 15th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
>>A few weeks ago I read something at the Feministe blog that absolutely *jumped* out at me: how sad it is, when women act as if telling them "you're fat and ugly" is the worst thing someone can say to them or about them.<<

And yet, so many of us have that twitch. Even if we smack it down with a spatula, it's still there--it's programmed in.

>>What happened to "smart", "funny", "friendly", "nice"?<<

Aren't those the compensation prizes for "you aren't pretty"? I'm joking, byer very drily, because we are still taught, at some level (school if not at home, social events if not in church), that pretty is the most important.

>>(But of course it has also become "cool" to call each other "bitch" ...)<<

I will probably get started on that soon, but my November 7 post gives you some idea of my position there. Since I'm on a roll this week, though, I'll probably let go on the subject of slut-bashing and other negative female terms next.

>>It's not only about being thin and pretty, but about having the right kind of career, and the right kind of money, the right kind of success, the right kind of husband or partner, the right kind of kids at the right time in your life, and so on and so on and so on.<<

The right nursery school, the right baby carriage, the right SUV, the right delivery (natural? drugs?) . . . People need to relax or they're going to rupture something.

>> Lately I've encountered more and more women who are trying to tell other women (in sometimes more, sometimes less subtle ways) how a woman is supposed to live her life. Many just want to help the feminist cause, I do appreciate that. But personally I simply dislike being told how I'm supposed to live my life and what's supposed to be a rewarding way of life.<<

That's what I'm hoping to convey--that we're supposed to help each other and leave each other room. A friend of mine had natural childbirth because her peer group pressured her into it, and it was awful. A fan told me about a friend's mom who wasn't allowed to present at career day at their girls' school because they deemed choosing to be a full-time mom and homemaker "wasn't appropriate." What's the point of Women's Lib if we didn't get the right to make our own choices?

>>I guess the core issue is really respect. If you don't really respect yourself, your looks, your choices in life, then you can't respect others.<<

But it's easier for some to forge their own self-respect than it is for others, and I speak as one who has had a hard time of it. Anything we can do to help each other we should, because so many forces in our lives are arrayed to make us feel constantly lacking.
(no subject) - juno_magic - Jun. 15th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 17th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Jun. 13th, 2007 08:26 am (UTC)
I would like to believe that most people don't think that only beauties have the right to speak...

Today I realised that it really isn't true. That even in a discussion with a respected friend, who is educated, and I would hope sympathetic to the feminist cause, these idea's can come up.

We were discussing Paris Hilton, and he was saying what a waste of space she is. I said "Well, yes it bothers me that she has fame even though she does nothing of importance."
His response?
"She's not even beautiful!"
"What?"
"She's really ugly. I want to know why she is always in the papers, and on the TV, when she's so ugly. If she were pretty, I would understand."

I tried changing the subject, but he kept coming back to it. Listing other women that are more worthwhile, because they are attractive, but are only minor celebrities.

I felt sad inside, and wonder if he knew how much it hurt to hear that.
tammy212
Jun. 15th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC)
>>I tried changing the subject, but he kept coming back to it. Listing other women that are more worthwhile, because they are attractive, but are only minor celebrities.

I felt sad inside, and wonder if he knew how much it hurt to hear that.<<

If he's a friend, I doubt that he did. It probably never occured to him that he was saying a woman only deserved attention if she's beautiful because he was so focused on this particular example.

I am sorry. Maybe once he cools down you can try talking to him about it again?
elaynetoo
Jun. 13th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
Turn it around
"Our first instinct, when someone claims we fangirls are fat and ugly... is to establish our non-fat, non-ugly credentials. It's so understandable." See, my first instinct is to turn this crap right back on them and respond, "What is your body-image problem that you can't even have a rational discussion? What's next, 'your mother dresses you funny'? Real mature, a-hole."
tammy212
Jun. 15th, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)
Re: Turn it around
>>See, my first instinct is to turn this crap right back on them and respond, "What is your body-image problem that you can't even have a rational discussion? What's next, 'your mother dresses you funny'? Real mature, a-hole."<<

Okay, some of us are more in-your-face about these things than others! 8-D
goldjadeocean
Jun. 13th, 2007 08:15 pm (UTC)
There's a whole lot of thought going on here that will end up as its own post eventually. While I am trying to brain, I thought this was a great comparison of sexy vs. "sexy".

The social conditioning is so hard to break; I keep slipping into "I've gained weight and my new (BMI 22) body is so awful! I need to work until my old (BMI 17) body is back, despite the fact that I've been consciously putting on weight and muscle!" mode and having fits over something that isn't even a problem. How the heck do you even go about that, anyway?
kitmf
Jun. 14th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
I do love you.
tammy212
Jun. 15th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
>>How the heck do you even go about that, anyway?<<

Start standing in front of the mirror and noting the good things about the new body? How much stronger it is?

Otherwise, you got me. I'm as messed up on this issue as anybody here.
(no subject) - tammy212 - Jun. 15th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 93 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

May 2012
S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Ideacodes