On “feeling fat” and the multiple truths of fat experience

Jenny Trout recently wrote about “feeling fat” vs. actually being fat in the context of reactions to Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass.” Her main point is that, although body image is a problem for many women of all sizes, our conversations about body politics need to center the experiences of fat people–especially those on the larger end of the spectrum–who face regular discrimination for their size. She makes the important point that:

While average-sized women are concerned with not “feeling” fat, fat women are facing challenges that affect their lives far beyond damage to their self-perception. Plus-size clothing stores Lane Bryant and Torrid only sell clothing up to a size 28, at prices prohibitively expensive for low-income women. Buying clothing in a physical store is, if not impossible, then highly unlikely, for women who exceed the “plus-size” category.

Our health is at risk, too, and not just from the obesity-related illnesses we’re warned about; we’re faced with bias from the medical community that puts our health, and potentially our lives, at risk. Obese people face rising weight-based discrimination in the workplace, women especially.

I agree 1,000%. This is a big part of why I also felt uncomfortable with “All About That Bass” being held up as the body-positive anthem of the summer. Fat activism is a civil rights issue, and as its ideas have spread, they’ve often been watered-down to “inspiring” pictures of size 8-ish celebs and platitudes about loving your body (as long as it’s not too fat). We need to keep bringing the conversation back to the realities of being fat in a fat-phobic culture: workplace discrimination, medical bias, street harassment, lack of available clothing, lack of properly-sized chairs and medical equipment, discrimination in adoption proceedings, policing of children’s appetites–in extreme cases, even taking them away from their parents simply because they’re fat–and the ubiquitous messaging that our bodies are a disease to be eradicated at all costs. Continue reading

Sunday links, 8/3/14

black eyed susans and pink flowers behind white picket fence

Fa(t)shion
But seriously…if you’re fat, you can still wear whatever you want.
-Help Elizabeth of CandyStrike get her clothing out to a major online retailer!
-Awesome pictures from Summer Strut, a plus-size runway show in Portland.
Land’s End introduces adorable new science t-shirts just for girls.
-How cute is Sprinkles Bake Shop, which sells dessert-themed goodies like a birthday cake headband and macaron coin purses, as well as actual dessert-related supplies?
-Emma is putting dudes in dresses and watching chaos unfold.
We don’t want your summer music festival fashion tips.

Fat Acceptance
So much yes to this: I am not all about that bass: deconstructing the summer’s feel-good, body-positive hit. I wrote about “All About That Bass” a while back, but Jenny’s analysis is much more in-depth, and superbly breaks down the many different types of fail in the video. (And yes, I’m still sad that a video with such a catchy tune and such a gorgeous pastel aesthetic is full of so much race-, gender-, and size-fail.)
-Syruckus writes about why fat acceptance matters to him as a fat man.
-Ragen shares strategies for dealing with fat-phobia in the workplace.
-I love seeing pictures of two awesome fat activists meeting each other.
Making Fat Ends Meet is a new Facebook group for poor and working-class fat people.
-Awesomeness: vandals trash plastic surgeon’s anti-muffin top billboard in Michigan.
What they never consider when they link fatness with health problems.
-Oaklanders, checked out HAES’d and Confused, a series of events examining social justice within the context of the HAES model. There’s also a phone-in option for non-locals to participate.

Israel/Gaza
Dear Nick Kristof, your Palestinian Gandhis are already here.
Rays of hope in Gaza: 13 Israeli and Palestinian groups building peace.
Jews around the world are facing attacks as the crisis escalates in Gaza. This is scary as hell, and it makes me so angry/sad/ARGH that so many people seem to think the answer to hatred and violence is more hatred and violence.
If Israel calls to tell me they will bomb my house, what should I take with me as I run for my life?
Life under fire in Gaza: the diary of a Palestinian.
-There are just no words for how heartbreaking this story is. No words.
The awful decisions I’ve made to protect my Palestinian children from this war.
Gaza myths and facts: what American Jewish leaders won’t tell you.
Threats of sanctions worked against Israel in 1956 – and they can work again. Continue reading

Meghan Trainor’s “All That Bass”: body-positive anthem?

I’ve been seeing a lot of hype for this song as the “body-positive anthem of the summer,” and my feelings about it are pretty mixed. First off, the song is fun and catchy, and I love the pastel outfits and set design. So many flower crowns! So much tulle! It’s incredibly aesthetically appealing.

I think it’s great that there’s a fat guy dancing, even doing a split near the end of the video–hell yes for fat athleticism!–but I wish there was even one genuinely fat woman featured. The singer and her backup dancers are only slightly larger than the media ideal, maybe in-betweenies at most. It’s just one of many, many “body-positive” projects that focus on smaller fat or not-even-fat women, and I’m so over that.

I’m also so over the song’s heteronormative focus on appealing to men, with lines like, “Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size/She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night.” Really? In 2014, we’re still supposed to base our self-esteem on what men (supposedly) like?  And the reference to “skinny bitches,” sigh.

Personally, my body-positive anthem will always be GabiFresh’s #everyBODYisflawless.