26.11.11

The F-Word

As some of you may have noticed, I am fat. This blog, after all started out with the name "Plus Sized Pretty". I have been fat, cubby, overweight, obese, big, plus size, whatever you want to call it, since I was a child. I chose to use the term fat to describe myself now because I am just that. I am fat. It is a descriptive physical characteristic and by embracing it I am taking away it's power as an insult.

As a child... that's when all of this started. I never really fit in, starting as young as kindergarden, when I was the "new girl" with that weird religion; but things only got worse once I started gaining weight.
When I was a child and I started becoming noticeably bigger than the other kids my age, my peers let me know this was not acceptable. I was bullied constantly at school. Every day. They let me know I was not accepted. That there was something wrong with me, and that I was unworthy of acceptance.
But it wasn't just at school. It was at church. The kids my age never let me feel the love my religion has to offer, because I felt so hated by those around me. I got it at home. My older brother making fat jokes. My Grandmother bullying me for being fat. My female cousins, close in age and influential, always talking about diets. My Mom, sympathetic and hopeful, telling me that one day, maybe around high school, I would just "thin out", like she did.

Not to mention the countless images from tv shows, movies, magazines, and later, internet, that penetrated my self perception so deeply that I hated myself. Just like everyone else did. When did this self hate start? For me, I remember watching disney movies and noticing my stomach didn't curve inward like the perfect princesses did. But that's just the experience of one individual.
However the problem is so expansive, so ingrained into our everyday society, that my experience is not unique. It is something almost every girl in this society must now go through. The movie Spanglish does an excellent job of portraying this.


Another example of how vindictive and obsessed the generation has become, can be seen in this clip from Weeds. Celia, the mother, is disapproving and downright abusive to her overweight daughter. Now i'm not trying to imply from these clips that it's the mothers that cause daughters to feel terrible about themselves, my own mother has always been loving and supportive of me no matter my size. Rather I am saying that in our society the need to be thin is so ingrained it has found a way into our homes. A perfect example of what I learned in Women's Studies this semester, hegemony. Hegemony is the dominance of one social group over a culture. I think we all know what force it is we face in this culture.
The endless quest for thin. 



When I first saw Maggie Goes on a Diet, I immediately closed my browser. I clicked away. I didn't want to see the latest body hate the world was perpetuating on the next generation of teenage girls.
The cover of this book hit all too close to home for me. There have been hundreds of clothes i've bought,  that my mother bought for me, that were "motivation" pieces. Items that, while too small, would fit "when I lost weight". After I lost weight, after I could wear those clothes, and then everything else would fall in place. I would have friends at school. Boys would like me. My family would love me more. I would be loved. But of course, these motivation pieces didn't work. Nothing did.

You know what else doesn't work? Hate literature aimed at young girls. The concept of this book is so disgusting I cannot believe it's being published. What kind of a world do we live in where it's acceptable,  even encouraged for young girls to be told so blatantly that they can't find friendship and happiness unless they're thin?
This video shows just how explicit this book implies that to be fat is to be unworthy of love, and only when you are thin can you find acceptance.

I mean, the book says it right there. "Playing soccer gave maggie popularity and fame." Not a killer personality or a great attitude, but the fact that she starts to kick a ball around and subsequent weight loss is what she needs to find acceptance.

One of the best parts to this story, is that all of this diet advice to young girls is being told by a fat old white man. Now I am not meaning to disparage him based on the fact that he is fat, rather point out that he really has no place to tell legions of young girls to diet. He doesn't know what it's like to be a girl faced with these pressures. He doesn't know the torment they endure. Rather, as an old white male, he is in the position of power to do the tormenting.

What I propose is that rather than reinforce the hegemonic weight obsession with out society, and allow this to continue on, we instead look to accept rather than assimilate our youth. In turn we can only hope that one day things will finally change.

Change that will garner confident, self respecting girls. Like the ones featured in "Smart Girls at the Party". Of all the girls profiled in this series, there is never any talk of their weight or appearance being what makes them the extraordinary girls they are.

If only we could see a book more like these, found from the blog Red No.3.




One of my goals in this life is to carve out a safe space for girls and women of every kind. To try and put  a stop to this kind of thinking. In finding my own self acceptance, I know it is the most important and valuable commodity to have. It's something we all must be equipped with in order to get through this life.

9 comments:

  1. I would so read "Maggie Joins a Roller Derby League"

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  2. Thank you for taking the time to write all of this, it's very much appreciated! I'm not sure exactly how to respond, but you brought up many good points and your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

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  3. I am fat. It is a descriptive physical characteristic and by embracing it I am taking away its power as an insult.

    I love this. My friends are always insulted for me when I say I'm fat and immediately come back with something like "oh, you're not fat!" or "you're so pretty", etc., as if I'm digging for compliments. I'm not. I'm taking the vitriol out of a term like "fat" and making it into adjective like "green" or "long" or "swift". It is what it is, and I'm okay with the fact that yes, I'm fat.

    But the unfortunate other side of the sword is that if I can accept myself using the term to describe myself, then in theory I have to accept someone else using the term to describe me. And I'd be fine with that, except 95% (or more) of the time, I know people don't have the same relationship with the word "fat" that I do. They always use at derogatory, as mean, as rude. The word "fat" is used as a way to downgrade me to a lesser being, and that isn't right. I'm then obligated to get insulted, and people view me as a hypocrite or overly sensitive because I call myself fat but no one else can.

    It's awful that so many young women--you and me included--have to be subjected to any type of body objectification, whether we be fat, flat chested, tall and thin, Rubenesque, modelesque, flat footed, etc. It shouldn't MATTER. A person's body is a private area. It's inappropriate to make a comment about an amputee or someone with a blood disease or depression, so why is it okay to make a person's weight public fodder? It isn't. It really isn't. And I commend you for attempting to find a way to bridge the gap between acceptance and community, because I know it's extremely hard to do.

    Also--I'd totally read Maggie Joins a Roller Derby League too!

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  4. Wonderful post! It's hard to live in a society that almost praises being thin and being pretty more than being smart and confident in who you are. Sometimes I feel like people are more accepting and comfortable around women who fit the small size mold.

    I have been fat, I have been thin and I have been fat again. And at the end of it all I'm the same person thin or fat. My happiness and the wealth of my life will never be measured by the weight on the scale. If I can accept this about myself then I wish others could as well.

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  5. Maggie getting her masters and roller derbying are great! Fun, and inspirational!

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  6. YEEEEUH GIRL! I totally support everything you're saying in this post. Body politics are a huge issue in our culture, and a fantastic subject to bring attention to in the blog world. It's so great that you're using your blog as a form of resistance against the hegemonic (hehe) views on what a "beautiful body" should look like.

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Thanks for stopping by! Comments are always welcome and very much appreciated. :)

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