Hoochie Mama – The Other White Meat and Razor Wire Pubic Hair: Books as Stranger Repellent

A version of this entry appeared previously on Snarky’s Machine

As a person who does not particularly enjoy unsolicited social engagement, I find myself locked in an epic battle to protect my precious SAUs (social attention units). I am constantly road testing strategies to ensure this adorable and accessible looking face doesn’t start interactions this adorable and inaccessible mind is unable to sustain. If this is not your experience, I’m happy for you, but I can probably do without hearing all the ways in which this makes me “lucky”. I don’t feel lucky and if I don’t moderate my time I’m exhausted when it’s over and disappointed with myself I didn’t fake labor in order to secure my escape.

One strategy I employ involves heavy use of my cellphone. Seriously, I will not leave my house without my phone and will always call someone and talk to them. People often try to talk to me in public places, asking for suggestions or making nice nice. Now, when I’m in the south, all this goes out the window cause it’s real bad manners not to offer your opinion on the heat when asked by a southerner. Besides, they know when the conversation has run its course and are more than happy to mosey along their merry way.

The other strategy I employ is carrying around books. I read them in line and just about any place where there are a collection of strangers waiting for something to happen.

Here is Snarky’s Trust me I’ve done the legwork approved list of books that guarantee your personal space bubble will not be breached.* Inclusion on the list does not constitute a recommendation – though nearly all were enjoyable to me – rather it simply means the title provided effective protection of SAUs.

Airports and such

  • This would probably strike most as counterintuitive, but AIRPORT LIT is the best choice to avoid AIRPORT bubble breachers. I’m talking about pulling out the big guns: Crichton, Grisham, Balducci, Grafton and Cook. People often romanticize air travel believing anyone flying has the potential to be enthralling.

    It’s a great time to pick up a copy of A Time to Kill This Close Talking Assclown or S is for STEP OFF BUBBLE BREACHER.** The key here is the copy should be totally brand new, preferably purchased from the gift shop. Extra points for using the receipt as a bookmark. Additional note: obscure titles are generally less effective and tend to welcome rather than discourage conversation.

Waiting Rooms – Medical

  • Since there is often a paucity of anything worth reading if you’re not say a parent, gun enthusiast or a card carrying member of AARP, the selection of periodicals provided offer no immunity from bubble breachers whose first comment will involve noting the vintage of the magazines. If you ARE a parent, gun enthusiast or a card carrying member of AARP certainly your lived experiences are probably a lot more exciting than what could be found in those stale periodicals.

    Books with provocative titles casting medical professionals or the profession in general in a rather unflattering light are the most effective. Your Dentist might not have read Marathon Man but it’s likely they will know what is meant by the phrase “Marathon Man Dentistry”. If this is the first time you’re hearing this phrase, google is definitely your friend. I’ll let you do the legwork on that one.

Waiting Rooms – Other

  • A diverse range of subjects are suitable for SAUs protection. I lean towards books overtly sexual in nature, though best selling “female” focused self help and astrology titles are useful as well. Car Dealerships are good places to bring out the feminist non fiction or a “Clown Horn” feminist work like Fear of Flying. There is something about a book exploring a woman’s sexual awakening that will make people scoot away and redirect their attention to The Price is Right faster than you can utter “zipless fuck”.

Coffeehouses, Bookstores and other “enlightened” spaces

  • Since folks often venture to these establishments for the express purposes of imposing themselves on strangers Young Adult fiction is often the best bet. Nothing thwarts this particular strain of breacher like the idea that you just might not be very well read.

Restaurants

  • “Offensive” titles are the strongest weapon in the bubble breach protection arsenal. Think of them as broad spectrum antibiotics to be used judiciously.

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* offer void where prohibited. some restrictions may apply.
** actual titles may vary. check local outlets for similar products available in your area.

Guest Blogger Tasha Fierce: A Maxie Girl In A Barbie World

Tasha Fierce edited the amazing ‘zine Bitchcore from 1998 – 2001 and co-blogs at I Fry Mine In Butter. Her writing explores black invisibility and racism in feminist spaces, sizeism and fatphobia, black queer invisibility, and transgender issues and subverting gender roles. Also, she’s my sister – okay not blood related – but she’s my family.

I have a deep, abiding love of fashion and the various bibles that dictate the terms of such. No matter how many times I tell myself I’m not going to pick up another fashion magazine, no matter how many times I reflect on how damaging staring at anorexic-thin models in clothes I will never fit into is, and no matter how many times I cancel my subscriptions, I still eventually give in to the lure of “100 Accessories under $100 You Can’t Live Without” and buy the damn magazines again. And start another subscription, because, you know, 12 issues for $8 is a really good deal.

So since my chosen career path is “fashion/beauty editor”, and I have started my own nascent fatshion blog to hone my skills, I find myself needing to exist partially in that world that really wants nothing to do with me. At least, until the next “love your body” phase comes along and “plus size” models are all the rage — and even then, I don’t exactly have the shape or height of your typical plus size model. Loving Chanel but knowing Karl Lagerfeld is hugely fatphobic, to the point where he can’t even stand the thought of fat women wearing his diffusion line at H&M, causes serious cognitive dissonance. Writing about fashion requires looking at current runway looks and trends, and while plus size fashion has come a long way, it really pales in comparison to the variety, beauty, and creativity you find in designer clothes made for “normal size” women. It’s extremely hard to desire the amazing looks but be unable to wear them. While low end retailers are going up to larger sizes, you still need to be at the smaller end of the fat spectrum to fit into those sizes, no matter how much stretch they put in their clothing. And even those who can get with the stretch would be hard pressed to fit into the non Lycra-infused items.

All this requires me to live in the “double consciousness” described by W.E.B. DuBois, not just in the fact that I’m a black girl living in a white world, but also in the fact that I’m a fat girl desiring to live in the fashion world. DuBois describes double consciousness as such: “[...] this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” How accurate that is when applied to my relationship with a world so obsessed with being as small as possible, but that I at the same time love so much. Battling diet obsession becomes that much harder when you’re doing research by reading magazines full of stories of severe calorie restriction just to fit into a size 2. And battling self-hatred is that much harder when l’m looking at runway looks I’d love to re-create but can’t because the designers just don’t see me.

But this is the field that I love, that I feel drawn to. So it falls on me to continue to love myself in the face of if not hatred or disdain, erasure and invisibility. Because I’ve chosen this. It’s not something forced on me; this is not some other oppression. I can work to change the way the fashion world works, and thankfully there are a growing number of women doing that right now. Some may say it’s a silly world in which to try to create some kind of movement for inclusiveness, but hey, what can I say. I love beauty in all forms, and there is beauty in fashion, just like there’s beauty in fat bodies and the way we dress them. And I think, just maybe, if we can effect change in the fashion world, the larger world, which is very much influenced by fashion’s ideals, might change too. That’s the more noble purpose I strive for. And if I get to wear cuter clothes because of our success, well, I’m not going to object to that.

Everybody Loves a Strawman!

You can't win. You can't get even and you can't get out of the game.

As a Pop Culturalist, I’ve never found it my job to critique media I do not enjoy, nor do I give much credence to those who do. It’s really easy to pick apart even the legitimate shortcomings of media you don’t like, but it’s hardly productive. Okay, so you found all the problematic elements of content you’ve established NOT LIKING. Good for fucking you. Now here’s a barrel of fish to shoot!

You will never hear me rant about the problematic aspects of the following:

LOTR
Joss Whedon’s universe
WOW
D&D
Howard Stern
lolcats
Twilight
Harry Potter
The Office
Reality TV
McSweeney’s

BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE THESE THINGS. And state as much up front. No, it does mean I think who people enjoy these thing are bad people. It just means I don’t happen to share their passion for these things. I also don’t need to hear one more reason why I should be moved to partake in any of these things. Please move your foot so I can close the door. Me no like!

Besides, what would be the point? To prove I know how to pick on an easy target?

There ain’t no black people in LOTR. Booyah. I’m done. Okay, I can go out for a soda or something. Joss Whedon’s world is like Tori Amos’s world, which is like Jesus’s world. Possibly great but the followers appear to be large pains in the ass when proselytizing about their savior. Done with that one. The rest are probably self explanatory if you’ve read my blog for any appreciable length of time.

And that took – what – like a paragraph. Should I waste more of my time analyzing all the ways in which I believe these things to suck with supportive evidence of their suckery? As I say often say, I don’t know how many hours your day comes with, but mine only has 24 and I intend to use them wisely.

Honest examination of the media you actually consume means never having to say, “Omg, I can’t believe ____ said/did ____!!!” and you won’t find yourself so god damned shocked by what was in front of your face all the time. Granted, it’s a lot more difficult to unpack and examine media you find enjoyable, but it’s work that needs to happen. Ain’t no two ways about it. The alternative merely ensures it is always someone’s else’s heroes, interests or passions that are problematic and never yours.

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A version of this previously appeared on Snarky’s Machine where I blog daily, and often more than that.

Cultivate Your Inner Samuel L. Jackson

Can the owner of this many Kangol hats really be that mean?

I have no idea what Sam L Jackson is like in real life, but I sure admire the way many of his characters navigate the world. Not really feeling the excessive violence or the Pacino like shouting, but I do enjoy the indignation and the decisiveness in his responses to mellow harshers. There’s a whole lot of chow chow in our culture about politeness and decorum. Lots of noise about “not making a scene” or “stepping on toes” and all kinds of colorful ways in which folks get told to “suck it up”.

Excluding situations where not sucking it up could result in physical violence (I strongly encourage folks to suck it up until they are safely out of the situation) I can’t think of any legitimate reason one should – you know – suck it up.

People close to me often call me a “bad ass”, which while flattering is not entirely accurate. I don’t stalk the streets, narrowing my eyes and asking strangers if they’re feeling lucky and watching a movie like Silkwood just makes me tired. What they are probably observing is my directness and emotional discipline – neither of which are exactly the domain of the bad ass.

Pop psych frames verbal self defense as though we’re all outgoing, flashy extroverts, possessing heaping amounts of privilege and devoid of fear or ties to our community. Oh yeah, you can get away with their version bad assery once if you’re lucky. Ever notice how many bad asses (as framed in our society) end up chased out of town or dead?

Well, we’re not looking to become subjects of a bio-pic, portrayed by actors who complain about having to gain weight to play us. We’re looking to keep emotional bullies, Grabby Hands Christian Andersons, Concern Trolls and unrepentant close talkers from harshing our mellows.

Look, I do not cut an imposing figure. I have to get up real early in the morning if I want to spend much of it above 5’0.75 (yes that quarter inch matters). I don’t have a big booming voice or command of a lasso. And while I’m hardly shy, I am not an extrovert, flashy or outgoing. But I do a good job harnessing my inner Sam Jackson and here’s how I do it.

1. Decide

I don’t how many hours your day comes with, but mine only has 24. So at some point you really have to decide what exactly are your “Rosa Parks” moments and let the rest go. You can’t eat all the eggs or fight all the windmills.

2. Commit

okay, so you figured out where are your lines in the sand are. Great. Now own it. Don’t diminish yourself by thinking your lines are petty, picky or foolish. That might well be the case, but who cares. Hey, I blast off into outer space when people don’t use coasters. Even if the table isn’t wood! That’s just me. I own it.

3. Plan

While you’re not going in search of mellow harshing situations, you still need to come up with a response plan. Or as Nathan Muir (Redford) said in SpyGame “When did Noah build the ark? BEFORE THE FLOOD”. Grab your list of Oh no they didn’t-s and for each one write exactly how you want to behave if faced with the situation. Again, NO JUDGMENTS! Yes, walking away IS is a viable option. Write your response plan in detail, including any theatrical hand gestures or props you might need.

4. Practice

My hair. Lots of bandwidth has been used ranting about folks playing Indiana Jones in some black woman’s head. So let’s all pretend that we’ve read them and agree with the premise it’s WRONG. It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m raging home grown or store bought, people like going all ST: The Undiscovered Country on my head! I’ve done the ragey/stabby/verbal body slam thing and I’ve done the suck it up and just be all passive aggressively pissy thing. Neither worked for me.

Now if I get the question I ignore it. I ignore all its overbearing out of town relatives, well intentioned neighbors and pushy supervisors. If I feel a hand about to storm my head like Normandy, I physically MOVE the hand and give the look. It’s a cross between the look my mom used to give us when we were cutting up in church and the look DMV clerks have perfected. But it took practice. A lot of practice. At first I was still alternating between ragey/passy, but I just kept repeating steps 2 and 3 and now it’s just something I do. I don’t even think about it. And, see, it didn’t involve any shift in my personality or lots of processing with people with summer homes and dreamcatchers dangling from their office windows.

5. Consistency

Stick to the response plan. Even if you feel silly and regardless of what they do/say (with the physical violence caveat still in place). Don’t waver. See it through. Particularly with a repeat offender. You have to keep doing it every time they do that thing that you isolated on your list. The reason you practice is so it feels natural even if you don’t feel natural doing it. You know your script, you know all the blocking and you’re just giving a performance. And seriously, most of these ass clowns don’t deserve your improvised efforts! Even if the situations themselves don’t get better, most likely, you’ll feel better and that’s all we’re aiming for. Assclowns don’t stop being assclowns merely because you’ve mastered the force.

This doesn’t come with a guarantee and it won’t be applicable in a lot of situations, but hey it sure beats coffee table rings.

Okay, that was such a clown horn ending.

The Last Dragon

Throughout my personal fat acceptance journey there have been small moments of victory that I actually realized were victories at the time. The time where I tossed a size 10 sequin raincoat – I fit for all of ten minutes back in 2002 – into the donation pile without one second of, “Well, maybe I could work out a bit more and…” or evicted that pair of tiny pants draped sinisterly over my bedroom door. Times where I didn’t hold up an OBVIOUSLY too small sweater and wonder if I could make it work and instead actually listened to the screams of protest coming from the region just south of my neck.

Paring down my closet so it only housed items I could fit at that very moment was revolutionary for me. As I was given – like many women – to having what I termed a Kirstie Alley closet, named after reading about the wide range of sizes housed in her own wardrobe. Purchasing clothing in my actual size isn’t the struggle it was during my college years, nor does it fill me with the kind of hopelessness it once did. I can’t believe I used to torture myself with jeans that had no hope of ever making it north of my ankles and then get mad at my body rather than the damn pants.

And for all that progress there was still one remaining dragon: magazines.

Long after I was healing and accepting my body as is, I was still buying magazines that suggested otherwise. You know the ones. The ones with pictures of a giant, juicy cake underneath fantagical claims such as, “Drop all the weight you want by ___! (whatever holiday was two hour away)”. The ones with a celebrity airbrushed from here to ya ya talking nonsense about healthy eating plans and sensible exercise programs.

For some reason I still bought and collected these magazines even though I knew better and despite their presence making me feel worse. I carried them to the gym and read them during workouts, thus making them drudgery rather than pleasurable. Instead of raging it Big Willie Style I was raging it Big Whiny Style, not seeing the disconnect between my feelings and my actions.

Even after I started blogging here, I was still BUYING those damn magazines. While not actively engaging in hot buttered diet fail, actively purchasing those magazines was highly problematic. I could talk all the fat acceptance I wanted, but I was kidding myself as long as some part of me felt compelled to buy those four dollar tomes of false promises and shame.

One afternoon while engaging in some minor craft fail and The Last Dragon on Netflix instant view I decided to purge my place of those magazines. I grabbed stacks and stacks and began dumping them into my blue recycle bin. Kept at it until I had reclaimed the space under my bathroom sink and three shelves in my linen closet.

I made four trips to the dumpster singing the chorus of Rhythm of the Night and I felt fucking good slaying the last dragon.

Fluff: Tron Legacy or Tron 2: Electric Boogaloo

Tron: Legacy finally has an official release date – Christmas 2010 – and I am a trying to tamp down my excitement. Look, I come from a time where one had to use a steam engine to play Combat. Tron blew into town at time when Disney was trying to get its groove back.  The Black Hole (1979) and the highly underrated ghost tale The Watcher in the Woods (1980) had not revamping the brand the way it had hoped. Remember, The Little Mermaid was still seven years away.

Tron was expected to usher in a new direction for the mouse, However, with its modest box office success, accusations of “cheating” (via the use of computer technology still in its infancy) and mixed to terrible reviews, Tron seemed poised to become the Thank God It’s Friday of the sci-fi film world.

Tron: Legacy

Enter Tron’s release on laser disc. I believe this was a game changer in some respects for sci-fi action films, more so than Ridley Scott playing footies with various cuts of Blade Runner. Seeing it on Laser Disc, with the visuals set to Wendy Carlos’s dazzling synth work probably did more for the film than legions of Queer Studies papers deconstructing the homoerotic relationship of Clu and Tron, though the papers were highly entertaining and very much appreciated.

Because we can all use some respite, let’s dish Tron. Are you intrigued? Disgusted by someone tampering with your childhood? Are you excited about seeing Bridges and Boxleitner back in action? Memories of the film? It’s all game, provided it falls under the rubic of FLUFF, sci-fi films and such.

ETA: I really, really, really need a break from discussing Black female desirability.

Black Women Need Not Apply

I found an OK Cupid forum post asking for honest answers to the question of attraction to black women. Look, no rational person goes in search of nuanced discourse on a dating site forum, so save that critique for someone who gives a shit. However, it does shed light on the way in which the beauty ideal is framed. There is a huge chasm between white women who frame their experience in terms of feeling pressure to live up to a harsh set of standards versus women who live on the margins yet are still expected to adhere to the same standards that do not even recognize their existence. The former often focuses on specific traits such as blondness, thinness without much critical examination, with the expectation that intersectionality should have no bearing on the discourse.

I bought some of the, “Black women can be fat and still be desirable” snakeoil often peddled by white people, never seeing it as a form of subjugation. Not hearing, the rest of the sentence, “…for black women.” Not realizing my existence was still being framed as less than. And then there’s the Black Don’t Crack meme now utilized to sell botox and wrinkle creams to women of other races. Again from an unexamined perspective it feels like progress, but, of course, it’s not. It’s using the cult of youth to force women into obedience.

The dating world is often where the unchecked assumptions and the unvarnished truths are revealed. Want to know how your pursuit to oppress women is going, spend a few moments perusing the profiles and forums of dating sites. Places where men feel entitled to select mates as though they were flipping through a catalog and where women are instructed – by men – just how to be attractive and successful at dating. Irrespective of the kind of things that sociologists suggest are useful tools for mate selection – commonality of interests, life goals and values – the dating world is still steeped in enforcement of beauty standards, which precious few can meet and within that very few who can, most of them ain’t Black.

What’s great about how our beauty oppression opperates is white women can still feel like feminists when they engage in hand wringing about their looks being picked apart by men without once having to examine their race privilege or acknowledge the way in which their status as highly valued hurts and oppresses marginalized women. They can fixated on their breast size, their hair color, the shapes of their thighs and find support for their anger at those who possess the very traits they covet while at the same time never having their unchecked feelings of desirability entitlement or their feminist cred questioned.

But make no mistake, if you are a white cisgendered able bodied female in Western society your beauty is privileged above other women. Ab dab dab dab *holds up hand* – It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or your boobs aren’t big or if your hair isn’t blond. Look around you. Who do you see the most represented as “beautiful” in society. Remember, rattling off a couple of very, very, very famous WOC who are often visibly of mixed race and whose features and hair often adhere very closely to white standards of beauty doesn’t count.

Soak in that for a moment and then read the following pull quotes from men responding to a black woman’s inquiry as to why she can’t get something going on a particular wildly popular dating site.

FULL DISCLOSURE: While I know one doesn’t make for a revolution, I should note I met my partner (who is White) on the very same dating site. And I should also note there are many things about my appearance that closely adhere to white standards of beauty, namely my nose, lips (which are full but not, “too big”), my skin tone, an extremely youthful appearance that still gets me carded for rated R movies despite being 37, the shape of my eyes, which often mark me as multiracial and of course my hair which when straighten is long and swings like silk curtains in Savannah. Though it’s a tight coil of righteous afro puffs 99% of the time. That said, at the end of the day, even with all of that, if my sisters – all women, even women with more privilege than me – aren’t free, then I ain’t either.

I have opted not to provide commentary because I want folks to read the comments displayed here without benefit of a healing salve, the way I often have to and other women on the margins have to. This is not the time or place to commiserate about “dates from hell” but rather to really unpack what we mean when we suggest we aim to resist the cultural instruction around beauty standards.

From moneymitch88

i like classy girls, no matter what race they are. i think that a lot of black girls get rejected becuase of a “ghetto” stereotype, i could understand this. who wants to date a girl that’s always cussing, fighting, and being rude? i dont need that in a girlfriend, thats what my guy friends are for.

From TSNM:

I mostly think it’s because of the physical attraction…

I for instance, having grown in a different country, didn’t really know about all the racist acts here in the US before 50s. Therefore I never thought about discriminating and that was not because I was raised by instructions about how not to be racist based on color, but it was because I wasn’t even aware of something like that… But still, I’m just not physically attracted almost any black women. I don’t even check out the profile because I just don’t get that “Wow” thing when browsing through the little profile pictures in the “matches” section… Sorry but you asked to be honest…

I need to know the percentage of the ethnicities of the members, and if they are physically attracted to x race (May that be caucasian, black, middle eastern, asian, latino etc.)… So if the guy, even at a sophisticated wine bar never has that thought about approaching that race-x lady because he’s just not attracted to that race, that guy will not even look at the profile…

That’s what I think…

Good luck

TSNM

From foolishsucka:

I’m white and I generally prefer darker exotic women – latina, black, crazy island mixes. Most latinas seem to be Jesus freaks though. The only race I’m really biased against are asian women. I’m just not into them for some reason – maybe they are too submisive or pure for me or something. The one exception is girls from Singapore, but you rarely see them off the island.

FWIW most of my friends are latino and asian.

From Stevian

I will admit, I have ventured outside of my race. My ex fiance was of Costa Rican origin (latin), but even now I still know nothing of what Costa Rican’s are. It does tend to come down to the individual. This is an interesting thread. Before reading this thread, I didn’t know desi’s existed. It’s really interesting to fathom, to say the least.

Onto the question at hand, yes. Race does affect me as far as interests go. You are attractive elle, make no doubt, but it seems every time I meet someone of your descent [BLACK WOMEN], they go out of their way to be mean to me, or at extremes, be rather violent with me. I am not foolish enough to believe you would do so, not at all. But I honestly just wouldn’t feel safe. I imagine I am not the only one that thinks so.

You may be the sweetest girl in the world, but unless your entire family and your family friends are nice people, I don’t think I would be happy.

From silent_male, who oddly enough talks a lot of smack and doesn’t know the meaning of the word “silent”. perhaps it’s meant to be ironic:

I tend to go for women who are not very short (not below 5’0″ or so – I am 6’2″), speak English well (Indian/Aussie/American accents in addition to standard British English are ok, but no hood type talk “yno watimsayin”), have a fairer complexion than I am (women aren’t called the fair sex for nothing), are professionally / educationally driven, have a spiritual side, a certain depth of character, come from a family that is hard working / education oriented, aren’t smokers / serious drinkers / drug users, are family minded, are not single moms, not Muslims (or hardcore Christians/Catholics), and do not have any serious personality related issues.

I recently got out of a short but intense (long distance) relationship.

My history is now: 1 Indian and the rest white. That one (painful) experience with an Indian girl (and observations of other Indian girls who were with friends) were enough to put me off Indian women for life (I think). Most Indian girls do not like (actually actively despise) Indian guys in the first place (too many reasons to list or matter).

I have never dated any Asian, AA, middle eastern, or Hispanic women. In my line of work, the workplace is either Indian, Asian, white or even some middle easterner (- and overwhelmingly male, hard sciences / engineering are like this for whatever reasons). Hardly any Hispanic / AAs (we have one Hispanic guy and 2 AA guys in my immediate circle of 200-300 colleagues). I am culturally aware enough to know that there is a certain angry AA woman stereotype. Regarding Hispanic women, though many of them look somewhat similar to Indians from more southern parts of India (I am originally from northwestern India and hence have a slightly fairer complexion than most of my countrymen), there are significant enough religious differences (my religion and serious Catholicism definitely do not mix) to preclude any such possibility. So, is Jennifer Lopez good looking – you bet. Would I date her ? Not a chance.

So are my preferences a little racial (given the personal history) ? Possibly. Are they racist (“I do not care how good she is inside, I will not date her because of her racial affiliation”) ? I think not. Are they tinged with considerations of certain expectations of what would work long term and what might not ? Definitely.

From zhillsdude, a white person who thinks his lack of race consciousness is noteworthy and amazing:

I barely even think about race. Sometimes I’m surprised when I hear someone talking about race because it doesn’t mean anything to me but to others that’s all they can think about.As I recently said in another thread, racism and homophobia are stupid.

A version of this was originally posted on Snarky’s Machine

It’s National Handwriting Day*

Normally, I am not swayed by faux-lidays, but I was excited to discover today is National Handwriting Day. Often times it is far quicker for me to put fingertips to keyboard yet I am still drawn to pen and paper. I’m sure my slight obsession with all things office supply related might have a touch to do with it.

I am a lefty-turned-righty so my handwriting is heavily influenced by learning to form letters and numbers as a left handed person. I still write many of my letters from right to left.

Some friends attribute my strong powers of mental recall to photographic memory and Synesthesia – conditions I have – though I believe a considerable amount can be attributed to my rabid handwriting habit.

Writing by hand makes things stick for me and apparently there is some cognitive benefit too according to a study performed at the University of Washington.

According to research carried out at the University of Washington that involved test subjects of second, fourth and sixth graders, kids who write it out by hand demonstrated the capacity to write more, write better and write faster compared to their computer-using counterparts.

It’s a nice excuse to test drive pens you might have lying around or make some new friends. Plus, I’m sure there are lots of people who would love getting some snail mail written with love.

*Hey, it’s still 1/23 on the East Coast!

But What About the Normal Women!

NY Mag weighed in on the V Magazine’s Size Issue. Rather light on debate, its author seems to conflates a civil tone with holding an alternate viewpoint. There is the familiar chow chow of “What about the normal women?” However, in this case “normal” means sizes 4 – 10 and those of us existing outside these parameters are shit out of luck.

A London stylist states:

It’s such an extreme response to the size-zero hoopla.
I think all women want to see images of healthy girls, not women who are emaciated. But, realistically I don’t think many women aspire to be a size 18, either. I don’t think using outsize models is really the way to change perceptions — it’s just an extreme volt-face.

A pretty bold statement from someone too shy to give their name. On a seemingly unrelated note: my parents did in fact name me Snarky’s, but I’ll confess “Machine” is a stage name.

Anyway, back to the post currently in progress …

No, no, no, Anonymous Stylist, you’ve got it all wrong. They’re selling carrots, not strings. It’s the carrot does the enticing not the string it’s attached to. And by carrots I mean wealth, health, romance and acceptance. String fixation is wonderful bonus. But make no mistake they’re in the carrot business.

The author steps up to the mic:

Fast’s show wouldn’t have gotten the same publicity without those girls. And of course big can be beautiful — the industry has shown us that in many ways for years. But can average girls be beautiful, too? If designers used normal-size 6 or 8 girls in shows and magazines shot them for editorials, would it receive the same publicity? Or perhaps not, because the difference wouldn’t be striking enough to warrant it?

Clearly the real victims here are the “hollywood chubby”. Those unsung heroes of sizes 4 – 10, who are being dismissed courtesy of an industry that’s really hot for exploration of the extremes at the moment.

Has this author not seen what size six looks like on a 5’2 person? Clearly, there is a warped perception of what those sizes look like on variety of bodies. All the hand wringing is a waste of effort though. Believe me, you put a 5’0 size stretch size ten hourglass shape next to a 5’9 model and the difference is going to be “striking”.

Trust me, I’ve done the legwork.

Of course that’s not what’s going here. Framing the issue in this manner still vilifies fat bodies, but with a clever twist. Now fat bodies act in collusion with thin bodies to push all those “normal” sized bodies out on their “normal” sizes asses. Fat bodies given serious consideration in fashion editorials are still viewed as provocative and the editors are still accused of resorting to “gimmicks” – a valid criticism in some cases, but often works just as well as a distraction – so the likelihood of this author’s nightmare vision of fat and thin rising up against the “normal” seems pretty ridiculous.

Do we need to see everything on the size spectrum? Of course, but I take issue with the notion that sizes in the so-called “normal” range lack representation. They are represented – hello, that’s what the term “normal” implies based on its use here – and if this author feels otherwise, then perhaps a new label to describe them is in order. Of course not manufacturing a new class of “victims” from a group who enjoy a fair amount of privilege as it relates to size would probably be a better idea.