‘Fat’ is not a bad word.
16-year-old Taylor Townsend is currently the number one junior tennis player in the world, bringing hope to the increasingly troubled state of American tennis. Considered a prodigy, Townsend is one of 25 junior players currently being trained at the brand-new full-time academy in Boca Raton, FL, which is funded by the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Logically, this would seem to make her a major asset for the sport. However, Townsend has been benched by the USTA until further notice. The reason? Evidently, Townsend is just too darn fat.Thursday, she won two matches at the U.S. Open’s junior tournament, the last a dominating two-set victory over Mexico’s Marcela Zacarias in which she pumped her fist after winners and jogged to her chair for every changeover.But unbeknownst to everyone outside her inner circle, the USTA wasn’t happy to see Townsend in New York. Her coaches declined to pay her travel expenses to attend the Open and told her this summer that they wouldn’t finance any tournament appearances until she makes sufficient progress in one area: slimming down and getting into better shape.
If you’re a smaller fat person and you embrace the word fat and use it descriptively and lovingly, that’s awesome. I just hope that you think about your big fat friends who can’t use weight limited gym equipment, are denied visas to countries, denied life saving operations, and can’t physically fit into this every day world leading them to live isolated and distressing existences.
I would hope that you’re totally cool with your privileges and that when it comes to taking up space in fat activism, there are marginalised experiences we need to talk about OTHER than how hard it is to find clothes (although that is important too!) and our fat friends on the super awesome deathfat end of the spectrum need a place to talk about the things that make it hard for them to live and thrive every day (including other intersecting oppressions!)
people don’t believe that i weigh over 400 pounds because “wait, can’t you like, not walk at 400 pounds? i saw a show about a man who was so fat he couldn’t wear clothes and had to live in a bed. it was horrifying!” and i have found that like, size 30, 400 pounds, suddenly that’s where “fat acceptance” stops for some people. lane bryant stores only carry up to size 28, so clearly that’s the end of the human size spectrum. suddenly, when you’re Really Big, you start hearing “well, i mean, if you’re like, really severely obese you should do something about it, that’s just not right” etc etc from people that start their sentences with “now, i’m all for fat acceptance but…”
i love that fat acceptance has resonated with smaller fats and inbetweenies and thin folks, but again, there is not a cut-off point for fat acceptance and activism. there shouldn’t be some magic size where you’re just too big to include or accept or listen to. the difference between a size 0, a size 6, a size 14, a size 22, and a size 30 or higher can be hard to fathom for people who just aren’t on the larger side of the spectrum. i see lists of all these ~amazing~ stores with plus size sections that all cut off at a size 24/26, and i’m left wondering what exactly i’m supposed to do with that. yay, you carry a wider range of sizes, boo, you still expect me to go naked or…not exist.
I WAS GOING TO BOLD MY FAVORITE PARTS OF THIS POST. BUT IT WAS ALL OF IT. IT WAS ALL OF THE POST.
FUCK YOUR “BODY POSITIVITY” FOR ACTING LIKE IT’S MY FAULT FOR STRUGGLING TO LOVE MY BODY. THAT SHIT IS HARD. THIS IS ME HATING MY BODY.
fuck your white body positivity. fuck your cis body positivity. fuck your able-bodied positivity. fuck turning the shame on people, not power.
you’re doing it wrong if you don’t understand the legacies of colonialism and racism in beauty standards, in the states and abroad. if you don’t understand their relationships to eating disorders in poc communities. if you don’t understand how brown and black people struggle to love their racialized bodies. you’re doing it wrong if you don’t understand how trans people, most especially trans womyn, due to the culture of absolute violence that is reserved specifically for them, perpetuated even by other trans people, struggle to love their bodies in this cissexist world (thanks, white gender binary). if you don’t understand that sometimes, trans people just hate their bodies because they aren’t right at the time, that they will never be able to achieve the bodies that they want. if you don’t understand that trans people will always have a complicated relationship with their bodies. you’re doing it wrong if you don’t understand that disabled people struggle to love their bodies in this ableist world. if you don’t understand that some disabled people view their bodies as being wrong or bad, and are struggling with making peace with that. if you don’t understand that disabled people will always have a complicated relationship with their bodies.
you are doing your boring feminism so wrong if you don’t understand that you’re hurting the most marginalized.
|—||Marianne Kirby at The Rotund, I Spy With My Fat Eye; On Seeing And Being Seen (via queerfatfemme)|
Over on the Escher Girls blog, which does an amazingly consistent and good job of slicing and dicing comic book art featuring women, a submission was posted which blew my already cynical mind.
It was about a Batwoman piece that artist submitted for a portfolio review. The artist freely admits to not being the best artist in the world but wanted to get some feedback from portfolio reviews during SDCC.
I’ve stood and watched some portfolio reviews at conventions, and I’ve seen all levels of artists’ stuff - from penciled images that makes your jaw drop with “you’ve got to be kidding me” to work that you can see real potential in.
You can check out more of her work on her DA page, but let’s focus on the comments she received in regard to this sketch of Batwoman.
I’d say that is fine portrait of Batwoman and, bonus, that no backs were broken in the production of it. Gail Simone said, “I like that Batwoman piece very much. I don’t know what the rest of the portfolio is like, but if you can tell a story as well, I would work with you any time.”
And now on to the feedback. You can read the whole thing over at Escher Girls but essentially the general feedback from the publishers was that it “wasn’t industry standard”. One company was more specific. Brace yourself: (Bolding mine.)
“Her breasts are much too small and do not have the lift that superhero women should have. Her jawline is fat and her neck much too long. The style of her hair is clunky and does not flow in a sense that a super human would. Her hips, waist and thighs are too big and she honestly looks fat. No one is going to want to read a comic with a fat female protagonist. I honestly recommend looking at issues of Sport’s Illustrated to get the right anatomy. Those women are the peak of human perfection, and that is what we want in this industry.”
You know I could post a few recent covers that show off female characters and their lack of anatomy (and backs and normal size asses) but I don’t even think I have too. And the fat comment? Look at the waist — does that look anyone who could be reasonably considered overweight?
And remember we don’t know which comic company this is. Could be a big two, could be an indie.
That said I am not the least bit surprised. Not when I was told by an artist who works at a big two company that an another artist was not given a gig on a female led book because a senior executive didn’t think the artist “drew women ‘sexy enough’”
And there are other tales I’ve been told. But I’ll save them for another day.
The debate about how women are drawn in comics seems to never end. And each time it comes up I am heartened by the folks who get it and then brought down to earth by the amazingly cluelessness of others - both men and women. Kelly’s column on the topic over on CBR practically broke the internet but if you haven’t read it you should. But prepare yourself for some of the comments.
And look this post isn’t about having artists who aren’t ready for the big time getting a pass. This isn’t about female artists and comics. This isn’t about disagreeing that there is a hyper-realism in comics. Of course there is, I know absolutely no one is real life who flies or has the ability to stop a missile with their bare hands. This is about how there is a fundamental disconnect by some people in comics when it comes to the depiction of women. Not by all. But even one like the person who commented on the Batwoman piece is too much.
My body-posi CV
Surprise! Holly here as Becca has been fighting the forces of patriarchy all day over at our tumblr (link below). This is just a little story of how I got to where I am now. Where I am now is sort of okay but I’m still trying.
Killing us softly 4, a lecture that you have to watch: http://www.riseupfilms.com/1/post/2012/03/killing-us-softly-4-advertisings-im…
i am really sick of seeing vintage ads or comparisons of past and present ideals of beauty as a way to argue that the present standard ideal of skinny being beautiful is wrong. who the fuck cares what the standard ideal of beauty is, and for that, why should we be dwelling on what used to be considered beautiful? as far as i’m concerned, claiming that being “skinny” is not beautiful and that being “well rounded” or “fat” is, is the same thing as saying that being fat is unattractive and that only skinny is beautiful. fuck all of this. why do we have to care how big or small a person is and who is to say which is right or wrong? neither is wrong. healthy is right, whether that is being big or small. it varies from person to person. to think that there is one standard size that is right is incredibly stupid.
In one of the bathroom stalls at the university I attend there was this huge message, it started with “It’s true, everyone is born and built differently, but being big-boned or big-hipped is no excuse for being fat.” It continued, but was very hard to read, as was the rebuttal. The original writer, self-proclaimed “sexy biatch”, then wrote how “not all men want a girl that’s skinny or anorexic looking but being fat shows your lack of control and your unwillingness to care for yourself” and here’s the kicker, “If you don’t care for yourself you can’t expect someone else to” - because we’re all just waiting to be cared for, right?
I yanked out my pen, popped of the lid and with rebellious exhilaration fuelling me, I wrote:
“Change the society that perpetuates this ignorance, not your body.”
I’m sitting here with my mouth hanging open in shock. Good shock. All because I’ve read the report from the Body Image Inquiry. I knew it was released this week but I wasn’t expecting much as truth is more often than not bypassed when profits are involved. But Reflections on Body Image, co-authored by MPs and the Central YMCA, is incredibly enlightened and if the recommendations made in the document are taken seriously this will be the biggest step forward in public health since the smoking ban.
The report, published by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Body Image after a three-month public inquiry, makes some powerful recommendations and the biggest stride forward lies in the report’s acknowledgement that overeating is as much an eating disorder as anorexia and that eating too much and its effects , including obesity, are not a lifestyle choice and overeating can be the result of dieting.
The Body Image report concludes:
- According to experts there is no evidence available that diets work in the long term.
- Girls who diet are 12 times more likely to binge eat (a direct acknowledgement that dieting is a contributor to obesity not a solution to it).
- More than 95% of dieters regain the weight they lost (a result of the binge eating I’d expect).
- Getting rid of dieting could wipe out 70% of eating disorders (including the binge eating mentioned above, a side effect of which is often obesity.)
So here they’re saying getting rid of dieting could largely reduce obesity. If this is the case, then wouldn’t it be rational to conclude also that dieting has been a big contributor towards obesity?
Isn’t this amazing? To have this even nodded to in an official report is great news. The damage done by dieting can no longer be totally ignored.
Yes, there will now be an enormous effort from the weight-loss industry to counteract this report (keep your eye out for the coming crowd of news stories on the dangers of obesity and the glamorous after shots of women who have lost half their body weight by sticking to ‘not a diet but a lifestyle plan’), but there’s no stopping the slow dawning on the public that dieting is likely to give them the opposite to what it promises.
Read the rest at the Huffington Post here (H/T to Jaclyn for this one)