From Julia of Fatshionista (also a frequent commenter here), a wonderful post about racism and the politics of beauty.
Presenting oneself well, in the best suit, was an important aspect of being the stereotype breakers. In order to have a chance of being taken seriously, you had to look clean and put together from head to foot. Your hair had to be neat (and for women carefully straightened) because frizzy hair made you look like a “bush person.” The best way to describe the look is “controlled.” If negative stereotypes about black people were about them being savage, flighty, ruled by emotion and lacking reasoning, then the way to counter that was to look modern, tailored, and never have a hair out of place.
Julia’s post is an important rebuttal to and complication of the stereotype that black communities are more fat accepting than white communities.
Over at Feministe, guest blogger Amandaw writes a PSA for well-meaning people who just have to tell people with disabilities about the latest health trend their grandma’s hairdresser tried one time (familiar to many fat people as “Have you ever tried diet and exercise?”):
On behalf of all those persons, let me say: Stop.
That person has had that condition for months, years, or even their entire lifetime. You, on the other hand, have possibly heard of that condition — and possibly not! — and certainly have no experience living with it. Maybe you know someone else who has it, and maybe that’s a person you actually know fairly well (but that is a very small minority out of those who make these comments).
Which of these two people, do you think, knows a broader range of treatment options for said condition?
Alas, the thread gets derailed for a while by someone insisting that people are just trying to help and you little ladies shouldn’t get so hysterical about people who just want you to be healthy, but otherwise it’s an illuminating conversation.