Friday, July 06, 2007

BIG, WELL COVERED, ANYTHING BUT FAT

A subject dear to my heart, my lardarse and my gravity challenged bazoombas, FAT.

First from the A-Z of Consumer Pleasures, 1994.
"For women, beauty carries a moral overtone. The current ideal for women is that they should be thin, while the ideal for men is that they should be tall. Being tall is seen as a happy circumstance over which one has relatively little control, but being overweight is deemed entirely of one's own making. This has the effect of making women far more responsible for their physical appearance than men. A short man is considered unlucky, but an overweight woman is blamed for her size and becomes a target of derision. It is assumed she is irresponsible, self-indulgent and weak, a person of flawed character who cannot resist the temptation of food. Being fat or, for that matter, beautiful or wrinkled or dowdy, has become a statement of character."

Fast forward to April, 2007 to another book, "Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet" by Neris Thomas and India Knight (Penguin Figtree). The two woman also have a blog and a forum to help other women lose weight http://www.pig2twig.co.uk and the women using the forum and following the diet have lost 905 lbs.

But the women have critics, other women. Zoe Williams wrote an article called "You're Vain and Stupid", saying that weight was a funny old thing for an intelligent woman to be concerned with. "The real mystery is how people get away with fixating on themselves like this without relinquishing their right to be taken seriously."

I don't understand this view by feminists and I've come across it before. Why is it considered frivolous to want to lose weight, apart from health reasons, to please yourself by regaining some self esteem that judgemental people like to strip away, see first paragraph. The 1994 attitude to fat women (men too) has become more malevolent in 2007. Of course, we'd all like it if our appearance and self-esteem wasn't tied to body type but it is and women who criticise other women can be the biggest enemy.

I really don't care one way or the other about weight since I make my own clothes and whip up a piece of jewellery to match but health wise I've got to drop it. I'm doing it for me and I wouldn't like any feminist fellow traveller to tell me I'm vain and self-obsessed for doing it any more than I'd like someone to tell me how good I look when I've lost the flab.

25 comments:

Neo said...

Good points,JT. All that really matters is what you think about yourself. I feel more confident and healthier carrying less weight but I would definately not conscribe to social standards that place expectations on me to fit the prescribed "mould".
Shit,you reakon you got a problem! Go see what I'm facing tommorrow....HELP!
Can I have a facelift and liposuction organised by the morning ya reakon?
Zoe XXX

nailpolishblues said...

The problem with it being a funny thing for an intelligent woman to be concerned with is that the intelligent fat woman has to work hard at proving her intelligence because fat people are assumed to be quite stupid by quite a lot of people.
Personally, I find it irritating that other people care so much about what I look like and make quite a lot of assumptions about me based on the fact that I'm fat. That they feel the need to comment about it when I'm politely ignoring how unattractive/stupid they are clearly denotes a wont of manners which is, I think, something we should all be much more concerned about.

JahTeh said...

Do you think it's worse these days Nails? Here I am going throught the check-out with a load of healthy stuff and I'm confronted with a mag cover of what celebrities really eat. Posh drinks seaweed shakes, Angelina drinks Soy milk only, Maria Carey eats only purple food. I agree with you about the manners. When did it become okay to comment about a person's appearance and I mean really thin girls are getting the anorexic comments as well.
I wish I hadn't seen the purple food thing, all I wanted was purple jelly beans after that.

Neo, hot-footing over with my aged wisdom.

JahTeh said...

That's 'through' the check out.

R.H. said...

Your humour your grit and broad-mindedness makes you attractive to me. Knowing that you're fat makes me like you even more.

nailpolishblues said...

I think it is becoming worse. You experience it at the doctors - they won't accept that you don't have high cholesterol and aren't diabetic if you're fat. They're doctors - they ought to know better but they've really bought into the whole 'all fat people are disease laden freaks who are a drain on public health' thing. Everyone seems obsessed with what other people eat - and I agree that we're all fairly bad with the hideous packaged goods. I also think that we've been taught to eat very badly - we don't know reasonable amounts, we don't know how to pace ourselves, and we're constantly being told not to eat this that or the other when we actually need them [I'm looking at dairy and meat], some more than others, because we should attend to our family histories when figuring out what's good for us. Personally, I'd rather not be facing osteoporosis, which runs in my family, and I keep eating rather a lot of red meat because my iron levels persist at being a bit crappy.
Food is all about the middle path really - any extremes are ultimately quite bad [especially my extreme addiction to chocolate - if anyone can tell me how to break it I'd be super grateful]. I can't imagine how purple food could be all that helpful - just as a lack of range and a lack of green leafies.
Ahem, rant the first endeth...

As for the manners - I'm a classic bitch behind the back, commenting at the passing parade and all that, but I do not feel that it's okay to say nasty things about people's appearance to their face [I'm not even good with nice things]. You just don't do it - it's rude and that's that.
Speaking of the behind the back [and I am so glad I didn't do this to her face, it would have been awkwarder] I was at a party recently and I said to my friend, of her sister, 'gosh I'm envious of how slender she is'. My friend rather bitterly replied, 'that's because she's anorexic'. I became quite a bit less envious after that.

nailpolishblues said...

Also, I heart RH for that comment.

And, whoah that was a bit long, wasn't it? Oops.

JahTeh said...

Actually I had trouble thinking what foods were purple and I am one with you about 'mind-bitching'. It's okay if it's not out loud. I'm the last person to give advice about chocolate addiction, I'd have sold my soul for a box of Cadbury's Roses last night, see I'm even a cheap addict.

nailpolishblues said...

I have an emergency chocolate stash in the freezer. Lindt 70%. A small amount goes a very long way - else I'd have scoffed the lot some time ago...

I came up with purple cabbage and purple basil - I think there's also a purple potato. After that - nothing. Unless passionfruit counts as purple? I don't want to but I know I'm going to google purple food now...damn.

JahTeh said...

All I've come up with is, blueberry icecream, blueberry muffins, blueberry donuts and borscht. I'll wait until my sister buys the magazine and I'll share.

Chocolate in the freezer, never thought of that but I'd eat it frozen.

Steph said...

I just blogged on the colaborative blog I write for, about an incident at work where a super skinny chick commented on a curvy girls lunch and started to lecture her about "health".
Nailpolishblues is correct in that most people think those carrying a few extra kilo's are stupid and it's so insulting.

I don't think anybody should comment on anothers weight, it's such a personal thing and nobody knows the circumstances related to their size anyway, it's rather rude.

If you want to lose weight, good for you. If you don't and you're happy with the way you look, good for you too.

It's nobodies business but yours.

JahTeh said...

You're so right Steph, and it goes both ways. It could have been curvy girl who gave advice to skinny chick which would have been just as rude. I'm fighting genes, compulsive behaviour and a preferred taste for sweet things.

alexis said...

This is a really interesting discussion, particularly your point, JT, that it's supposed to be some kind of feminist faux pas to care about the compliance of your body to notions of health, beauty, just-what's-acceptable. I'd like to be able to say, as someone whose name I can't remember once did, "Fuck attractiveness, and fuck the horse it rode in on", but it's bloody hard. The best I've been able to do is to try to redefine attractiveness on my own terms. Not that I wouldn't like to be able to secede from such concerns altogether. Anyway, more power to you, and you all.

JahTeh said...

Alexis, I love that saying, *commits to memory* and I don't follow fashion even though it's one of my hobbies. Christian Dior liked a woman with a bit of flesh even if he did cram it into bras and corsets so I don't know when this 'thin is desirable' crap came in. Even Twiggy the stick model of the 60s was considered unhealthy and her thin was natural. She still models, never diets, has wrinkles and looks great.

JahTeh said...

Steph, what a nice putdown. The only time I stood up for myself after an insult like that, it was "I can lose weight, what can you do with your fat mouth". Bloody six year old went off crying to his mother who should have taught her beast some manners.

nailpolishblues said...

It would be nice to 'secede from such concerns' (I love that phrase) - pity it's so damn hard to do. Worse is that women are the ones who make it so hard! I've almost never had a man comment on my looks (and none, I think, that weren't looking to get laid) but women do it all the damn time. Although, possibly, with women they might be doing it to compensate for the fact that I'm fat and they're trying to boost my ego or something. It's easy to compliment someone when you don't think they're any competition.

JahTeh said...

Nails, it all boils down to looks being currency on the marriage market, always has,always will be. Comments from women therefore are considered suspect unless it's a really good friend who's allowed to tell you "your bum looks big in that".

nailpolishblues said...

Oh dear, it's all very Georgette Heyer, isn't it?

I'm almost irritatingly full of personality [look, I didn't say good], can I please have a very, very rich man now?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this view by feminists and I've come across it before. Why is it considered frivolous to want to lose weight, apart from health reasons, to please yourself by regaining some self esteem that judgemental people like to strip away, see first paragraph.

Jahteh, you answered your own question when you quoted from the A-Z book:

"For women, beauty carries a moral overtone. The current ideal for women is that they should be thin, while the ideal for men is that they should be tall. Being tall is seen as a happy circumstance over which one has relatively little control, but being overweight is deemed entirely of one's own making. This has the effect of making women far more responsible for their physical appearance than men. A short man is considered unlucky, but an overweight woman is blamed for her size and becomes a target of derision. It is assumed she is irresponsible, self-indulgent and weak, a person of flawed character who cannot resist the temptation of food. Being fat or, for that matter, beautiful or wrinkled or dowdy, has become a statement of character."


I don't understand this view by feminists and I've come across it before. Why is it considered frivolous to want to lose weight, apart from health reasons, to please yourself by regaining some self esteem that judgemental people like to strip away, see first paragraph.

Feminists are pointing out that the pressure on women to lose weight is political, and while you are doing it for the right reasons, we are being pressured to do it for the wrong reason (appearance and the assumption of moral superiority, especially as pertaining to women.)

The fat acceptance movement seems to be quite active in the US, I think in Australia we focus on health benefits more but in the States the pressure to be a fembot has become so toxic it has sparked a huge b acklash.

CIBalcony

Anonymous said...

Sorry, buggered up the quotes.

R.H. said...

Anyone with brains won't judge a woman by her size, the rest aren't worth knowing. It just happens that the most vivacious women I've known have been enormously overweight. Maybe it's to do with their zest for life, I don't know, but I do know that the billion-dollar diet industry has a mighty interest in spreading the lie that fat women are ridiculous -while well aware that people put on weight in middle-age anyway. It's natural. And some women can't help being fat, for goodness sake, so why should it be embarrassing? It's embarrassing to be stupid, that's all.

Silly bloody feminism will latch onto anything, putting enormous pressure on women. Those able to ignore it should be glad.

Anonymous said...

but I do know that the billion-dollar diet industry has a mighty interest in spreading the lie that fat women are ridiculous -while well aware that people put on weight in middle-age anyway. It's natural. And some women can't help being fat, for goodness sake, so why should it be embarrassing? It's embarrassing to be stupid, that's all.

Silly bloody feminism will latch onto anything, putting enormous pressure on women. Those able to ignore it should be glad.


The "silly bloody feminists" are saying exactly what you are saying in the paragraph #1 above. Sometimes, RH, you are the most profoundly stupid bloody twit in the blogosphere. You're lucky there are some women bloggers who will put up with you.

CIB

JahTeh said...

I've been going through feminist blogs in America, Helen, and I can't believe the climate of hate towards women who speak out. Is this just America which I'm beginning to dislike more and more?
The ultra thin move towards models came with the 'heroin chic' campaigns and it's gathered momentum since then. I would say pressure politics, big business weight loss companies and the media all combine to push a certain AMERICAN image onto the rest of the world.

R.H. said...

Thanks CIB, I'm mighty pleased.

Abuse from you is a compliment.

-Robert.
(fat or skinny, you'll never get a bloke)

Middle Child said...

I know what your mean...I am no twiggy and it concerns me for health reasons... I want to feel good and am happyt enough in myself...but it is hard to shift the weight which built up during menopause,,,53 now...hit menopause when I was 43... ah well.