How to Pig Out on Thanksgiving (But Without the Guilt)

That’s the title of a list of handy tips from Cosmo, sent to me earlier this week by reader Maggie. Cosmo offers the usual “If you really want to eat X, try Y instead! It’s exactly the same thing except for how it doesn’t taste as good or fill you up, but THINK OF HOW VIRTUOUS YOU’LL FEEL!” advice.

Since you’ve all read that article a thousand times before — alongside a million other helpful diet tips — I’d like to offer you an alternative. Let’s call it “How to Eat Like a Normal Human Being on Thanksgiving (But Without the Guilt).”

  1. Eat whatever you want. You’re a grown-up, and it’s your fucking stomach.
  2. Enjoy your food.
  3. Stop eating when you’re full.
  4. If you don’t manage to stop eating when you’re full, don’t worry about it. Nobody does on Thanksgiving.
  5. Do not feel guilty about any of the above. You’re a grown-up, and it’s your fucking stomach.

Follow those simple rules, and presto! You’ll have enjoyed a feast day without guilt! Cosmo‘s instructions run three pages, but I just told you how to do the same thing in about 50 words. And when I’m the one who can get a point across more efficiently than… well, any other writer alive, you know there’s something wrong with that other article.

Happy Thanksgiving, if you’re celebrating. If you’re not, please feel free to apply those rules to whatever you eat today anyway. Especially 1 and 5.

Welcome, Snarky’s Machine!

kateiconThe other day, longtime commenter Arwen noticed something:


Oh, sorry. I got a bit excited there.

We did, too, when we first found Snarky’s blog, and after a couple of weeks of reading that and her smart, hilarious, ass-kicking comments here, we started wondering if she’d ever consider blogging for Shapely Prose. Unfortunately, we also read the “about” section over at her blog, which says:

Having been burnt out on online activism, ally jockeying, ally cookie distribution and watching the snoozefest which is oppression olympics, Snarky pretty much seeks to avoid attracting that kind of thing to her current blog. So please spare her your critiques of her politics, language or viewpoints, as she probably wrote theory behind your critiques on the internet two billion years ago.

And we thought, yeeeah, it figures we’d never get that lucky.

But then she kept being fucking awesome, and we finally decided nothing ventured, nothing gained. So we actually asked if she would ever consider writing for Shapely Prose, and Shapelings, SHE SAID YES! We have a new blogger!


Snarky’s been waiting patiently for two days while Fillyjonk drew the icon and I finished writing the mammoth post that went up right before this, though she’s already moderated a few comments for us, BLESS HER FUCKING HEART.

Now all that’s left to do before she starts gracing this place with her fabulousness is add her bio to the “About” page here:

Snarky’s Machine is a writer, storyteller, blacademic and rabid Barney Miller fan who wrote her first short story at the tender age of nine. She can’t recall the specifics of the story, but it rocked. Currently, she writes grants and presents workshops on a host of pop culture-y, diversity and writing topics and doesn’t mind being paid in delicious cupcakes. (Sometimes.) Her work has been featured in Bitch and couple of other places she can’t actually remember. Snarky received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2007 and can be contacted at

Welcome, Snarky’s Machine! We could not be more thrilled to have you.

State of the Prose

kateiconAs I write this, there are 1,181 posts on this site, most of them written since late March 2007, when Shapely Prose was born. That’s a lot of fucking writing — and for a while, it was all me. When I started, it was my full-time job; I had come into some money and gave myself a year to figure out if I could turn a blog into a writing career before breaking down and getting a real job. Rather unbelievably, the plan worked. Which means that increasingly, paid writing has taken me away from the blog.

On the one hand, it’s really sad that writing elsewhere means I no longer have much time for the blog that started it all. On the other hand, that was always going to be the case: If the writing thing hadn’t worked out, I would have had to find some other paying job by now. All of my co-bloggers have always had full-time work — and one of them has two kids on top of that — so for all of us, it’s a labor of love that involves sacrificing time that could be spent relaxing or spending time with our families and friends. And in addition to writing 1,181 posts, in the last two and a half years, we have moderated 91,017 comments. That’s a lot of fucking comments. (For a glimpse of what moderation entails, check out Sweet Machine’s collection of some of her favorite deleted ones. Trigger warning on that whole damn blog.)

Why do we do it, then? Because it’s worth it. There have been incredible rewards — seeing fat acceptance get more mainstream attention, developing a large readership comp0sed of people we (mostly) love talking to, getting to know each other well (Sweet Machine and Fillyjonk were already besties, but the rest of us met online), getting immediate feedback on our posts, learning ridiculous amounts of stuff from the Shapelings. And for me, obviously, enjoying the beginnings of a real writing career, which is all I ever fucking wanted. So I’m not complaining, I swear. (Nor are we quitting, if anyone’s worried that that’s where this is going. We all love this blog, love the commenters, and remain as passionate as ever about feminism and fat acceptance.) I’m just putting this in perspective: Thousands upon thousands of hours of work have gone into this blog, almost entirely for the pure love of it — and in my case, because it was an investment in my career (but still mostly for the love of it, or I could have quit a year ago).

Before anyone starts offering suggestions for monetizing the blog itself, we’re not interested in doing that right now. We decided long ago that we didn’t want ads, nor did we want to solicit donations. And this isn’t about money, anyway. Like I said, there are loads of rewards that make it worthwhile.

But increasingly, there have been headaches and frustrations that have made this feel a bit like the kind of job where, if they didn’t pay you, you’d have no motivation to show up every day. Thousand-comment threads. Blogwars we tried to stay out of but somehow got dragged into anyway, without any of us saying a fucking word. Constant arguments about whether the boundaries we’ve set for our own space are appropriate. That sort of thing.

But most troubling of all is the expectation of leadership on our parts — of a movement, a community, a fatosphere — just because we’re a high-traffic blog. Some people have argued that whether we asked for a leadership role or not, that traffic means we’ve got it, so we have a responsibility to accept that our position means certain things. Like that we must be more democratic about what goes on here,we must weigh in on blogwars, we must set an example, we must respond promptly to all assertions that we are, in some manner, Doing It Wrong.

But you know what? No. It’s a fucking blog. As we’ve tried saying a gazillion times, it is not the movement. It is not the fatosphere. And the fatosphere is not, in fact, a real place or institution that has — or needs, necessarily — an identifiable leader to set standards, referee fights, and generally be all things to all fat people. If the majority of fatosphere bloggers decide it does need such a leader, that’s cool — but none of the Shapely Prose bloggers are running for office. We write a blog. We own what we write on the blog. We moderate comments on the blog. We started a community site for people who want to have discussions off the blog.  That is the beginning and the end of what we do, apart from paid work and hanging out with friends and family and occasionally sleeping. We are four human beings, writing one blog among many. Period.

But just saying that isn’t enough. A lot of people refuse to accept our self-identification as bloggers — no more, no less — and keep insisting that as long as Shapely Prose remains the most visible blog in the fatosphere, we have an obligation to “lead” it in ways that are never clearly defined and involve some highly mobile goalposts.  So we made the difficult, much-discussed and verrrrry well thought-out decision to reduce our visibility in the fatosphere — by simply not being part of it anymore.

What this is not: Some big, dramatic flounce or rejection of other fat bloggers or abandonment of fat acceptance.

What this is: The four of us making the decision that’s best for our blood pressure.

What this means: We’ve taken ourselves off the feed, as Bri mentioned the other day, and we will be taking the feed off of the sidebar here.

If you count on traffic coming from this site, or you rely on SP for access to it, we’re sorry about that. (The feed can be found here, for anyone who wants to add it to an RSS reader or their own site. Please do!) But there are other reasons why we made that decision, too. For one thing, the combination of our workloads and the increasing number of fat blogs (which is a fucking awesome thing) means we can’t actually read 90% of what comes up on the fatosphere feed, and we’re not comfortable giving an implied endorsement to blogs we don’t read. We wish we had time to read more. We don’t. We can barely keep up with this one.

And finally, when we made the decision, Bri hadn’t made this explicit yet, but now that she has, I’ll quote her, from the new rules for submitting your blog to the feed:

Your submission will not be accepted if your blog entries are not at least 75% relating to fat/size acceptance – Notes and Fat Chat are fat acceptance feeds for a reason…

Most of the 1,181 posts on this blog are about fat. Which means we could probably write about nothing but lemurs and still technically clear the “75% fat” hurdle for some time, but going forward, we are not necessarily going to be focused on fat more than 75% of the time. This is not — let me make sure this part is clear, NOTNOTNOTNOTNOT — because we are any less committed to fat acceptance than we ever were, or because we want to distance ourselves from the movement, or because we’re softening you up for the big announcement that we’re all going on diets “for our health.” It is because, quite simply, we’ve already written like a thousand fucking posts about fat. I’ve also written half a book about fat, and many more posts and articles for other outlets. I am in talks to start writing about fat for a monthly publication. I’ve been doing (and arranging more) speaking engagements about fat, and dozens of interviews. We all will still be writing about fat here. But it’s just, with all that writing and thinking and speaking about fat, we’re starting to feel like broken records. And we all have other interests we would like to write about. So we’re broadening the scope of Shapely Prose a bit.

When I started this blog, the tag line was “humorless feminism and fat acceptance.” I envisioned it as a general feminist blog that specialized in fat, but then the fat part really took off, and I tightened the focus. What we’re doing now, more or less, is going back to the original vision. 90% of topics will probably still be feminism or fat-related — plus some lemurs and shit. We’re not really setting rules. We’re just going to write about whatever interests us on a given day, so that blogging feels more fun and less stale than it’s been feeling lately.

We know some people aren’t going to be happy with some or all of this news. We’re sorry, insofar as we don’t relish making people unhappy. But given that we are, in fact, doing this for the love of it, we need to make sure it remains something we love doing. And all of the above are steps we feel we need to take to make that happen.

If you’re angry and/or don’t want to read SP if it’s going to be like this, that’s okay. We’re grateful to all of you who have helped to build our traffic, and if we lose traffic now, well… decisions have consequences. That’s okay, too. You gotta make ’em anyway, and these are the decisions we made.

It’s just one blog. And it’s our blog. And this is how it’s going forward.

So now I’ve told you everything I can about the State of the Prose as of Friday the 13th of November, 2009 — except for one bit of FANFUCKINGTASTIC news I am going to share in a different post, because I don’t want that overshadowed by whatever WTF-ing happens on this thread.

Thank you all for reading this blog. Really.

Polanski, Polanski, Polanski

kateiconThat has been my entire week. Since my first post about it here got a lot of responses, I figured I’d share everything I’ve been doing on it in one place. (Trigger warnings on pretty much all of it.)

But before I get to that incredibly depressing shit, please go watch Chris Rock going off on Polanski on Jay Leno last night. I was beginning to despair of ever seeing an actual big-name celeb I like join Team Child Rape Is Bad (see second Thursday post below). The clip is both painfully (and I mean that) funny and quite satisfying if you’ve been waiting like I have, though not perfect. In any case, it’s ABOUT FUCKING TIME.

Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child

Letters from Hollywood: Roman Polanski’s Rape of Child No Big Thing

Sharon Tate’s Sister: It Was A Consensual Matter

Peter Fonda and Roman Polanski on Rape vs. Murder

Lynchpin of Polanski Misconduct Case: I Lied

Are Anti-Polanski Celebs Afraid To Speak Up?

Oh, and Thursday was also the day I appeared on The Today Show to talk Polanski, because that’s just how bananas shit had gotten by that point. (If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t get excited. They literally left in one sentence of my 15- or 20-minute interview.)

Speaking of shit being bananas, I was also on Nightline last night, though that was not Polanski-related. They finally aired a teeny part of an interview I did weeks ago (I got like two sentences in that one!), squished in among Crystal Renn, Brooke Elliott and headless fatty B-roll. Woohoo!

Polanski, “Hounddog” and 13-year-old voices (After Monday’s post, this is probably the one I’m proudest of.)

And, finally, The best Polanski you might have missed this week — a round-up of other people’s posts I loved this week, though it doesn’t include two amazing ones by survivors: Lauren’s at Feministe, and our own Tari’s — which, if you read one Polanski post, should maybe be it.

On Polanski

kateiconYesterday, I wrote the most surprisingly and immediately successful blog post of my life over at Broadsheet, “Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child.”

I first realized I’d hit a nerve when I linked to it on Twitter, and the retweets started pouring in, continuously and (as of this writing) endlessly. (There have been hundreds involving “@kateharding” at this point; no clue how many links to it altogether, but I just realized tracks clicks on your shortened links, and that one’s had 6,883 so far.) I figured something was really up when I was invited to be on a right-wing talk radio show, and I saw the article tweeted by a high-profile conservative blogger. (Who knew being disgusted with Roman Polanski would turn out to be the ever-elusive common ground between right-wing dudes and liberal feminists?) Then more media requests came in, including one from France. (I’ve been turning them all down, mostly because they all want me to do it live during work hours.) Also, an unprecedented amount of fan mail, coming via my published address, Facebook, and the general Broadsheet addy. Plus an appreciative tweet from Cheryl Strayed, a writer I’ve adored for years and certainly never expected to “meet” via her saying my work was awesome. And then a couple of letters from journalists not looking to interview me, just telling me I’d nailed it.

The post went to number one on Salon, and is still there at this writing. This morning, I found out that in less than 24 hours, it got over 100,000 page views. (I hope I’m not revealing site  secrets here, but let’s just say that’s awfully rare for Broadsheet.) Then a friend e-mailed to tell me Amy Sullivan at Time called it “the best, most comprehensive rebuttal” to Polanski supporters. Another friend pointed out the Salon post was cited on the Wikipedia entry for Polanski. Later, over at Newsweek, our new pal Kate Dailey wrote, “There have been a lot of smart and convincing rebuttals to these objections, most notably Kate Harding’s forceful, powerful essay on Salon.” Around which time, my editor wrote and said, “OMG HOW BIG IS YOUR HEAD NOW? I am putting an end to this well-deserved praise pile-on by telling you that there is something funny on your nose.” Because she is awesome like that.

Today, I wrote a follow-up rant for Jezebel, focusing on the ridiculous amount of celebrity support Polanski is getting. Neither my editor there nor I expected it to get anything like the traffic of the Salon piece — the news is a day older, I’ve already said plenty — and who knows if it ultimately will, but 45 minutes after it went up, she IMed me and said, “It’s already gotten 5,000 page views.” Just checked, and about 6 hours later, it’s gotten 24,000.

Yes, my head is enormous right now, but that’s not the point of this post. Well, not completely.

Here’s the interesting thing about all this: All I’ve done is say that Roman Polanski raped a child, fled before he could be sentenced for it, and thus, by any reasonable standard, deserves to be punished — all of which is a matter of public record, except the opinion on punishment, which is common sense. I didn’t break any ground here. I didn’t uncover any news. I didn’t turn a phrase so exquisite it will be studied in lit classes in 100 years. I just called a fugitive child rapist a fugitive child rapist.

And it turns out a whole lot of people were waiting to hear someone say just that, straight-up, unencumbered by a bunch of bullshit about the importance of his work, his artistic genius, his age, whether his victim looked 13 or not, the judicial misconduct that marred his case or, most gallingly, the “punishment” he’s already “suffered” by spending more than 30 years in “exile.” (If being wealthy, successful and almost completely free to roam Europe counts as exile, sign me up.) A whole lot of people really just wanted to hear someone in the media say, “He raped a child. He fled the country. He damn well should have been arrested, he should be extradited, and it really shouldn’t have taken three fucking decades to make that happen. The end.” But very few people in the media did.

Why is that? Why have so few journalists stated the obvious? Why have I only heard about three people in the film industry (Kevin Smith, Luc Besson and Greg Grunberg) saying, in essence, “He fucking drugged and raped a kid, and he’s not above the law,” while hundreds of celebrities are signing petitions demanding his release, wearing “Free Polanski” buttons and trying to spin his arrest as an attack on artistic freedom? Why am I suddenly a freakin’ darling of the right, while a bunch of liberals argue it’s been such a long time, he’s suffered so much, he’s so old, he survived the Holocaust, his wife was murdered, and oh yeah, did you see Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired? JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT! JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT! (Let me be clear: Judicial misconduct sucks, and there does seem to have been some here. Polanski and his lawyers have every right to vigorously protest that. But whether he raped a child was never at issue — only his sentencing for it — and also, HE FLED THE FUCKING COUNTRY instead of pursuing his concerns through the legal system.) As Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery tweeted earlier today, “Seriously, all it takes for smart lefties to believe Polanski [should] not be punished for child rape is agitprop documentary? Pathetic.”

Pathetic indeed. And yet.

The overwhelming response to my posts is as heartening as it is head-embiggening. Far more people than I could have imagined were thrilled that someone came along and stated the obvious. But still, “Roman Polanski raped a child, end of fucking story” is far from the dominant media narrative about the case right now. Still, people are endlessly debating whether it was appropriate to arrest a fugitive child rapist.

Why do you suppose that is?

Once More With Feeling: We Already Know We’re Fat

kateiconZuzu sent me a link to the latest Schott’s Vocab post at the NYT, this one examining the phrase “fat gap.” Ben Schott points out that the phrase “has also been used to describe disproportionately high obesity rates among the poor, and the differing levels of obesity in different ethnic groups in Washington D.C.,” but here, he’s talking about how it’s used it in yet another article about yet another survey showing obese people are too stupid to know we’re obese. Says the Telegraph: “They are suffering from a new phenomenon dubbed ‘the fat gap’ which has blurred public perception of what is a healthy weight.”

Schott also quotes BBC health reporter Clare Murphy on the matter:

The findings appear to be fresh evidence of a phenomenon that health professionals have long suspected: as those around us get fatter, our perceptions of our own size change accordingly.

No, our perceptions of our own size are not the problem here; our perceptions of the size that constitutes clinical obesity is, and there are some damned good reasons for that. Murphy even touches on one of them — “pictures of children too fat to toddle or the adults so large they need to be hoisted from his house have transformed obesity into a freak show” — but still doesn’t quite connect all the dots.

Let’s review. As Fillyjonk said earlier this month:

This so-called epidemic is not made up of theoretical fucking people who are just as fat as you can possibly imagine. It’s made up of people you see every day AND WHO YOU PROBABLY THINK ARE “NOT FAT.”

It is also, of course, made up of the very fat people held up as “freaks,” and plenty of people in between, but the fact remains that in the U.K., as with the U.S., the majority of obese people have a BMI between 30 and 35. Which means that if they don’t know they’re clinically obese, it’s probably because they’ve never calculated their BMI, they look nothing like the media’s image of obesity, and they’ve constantly got people telling them they’re not even fucking fat.

That’s a sore spot for me, as you know, and I’ve been getting it more than usual lately. Jezebel commenters, journalists, anyone new I mention my work to — “Wait, I don’t get it. You don’t look fat to me!” My sister J’s first comment on the Chatelaine spread: “Guaranteed to garner plenty of ‘you’re not even fat’ comments!”  And the sad thing is, I’d already had the same thought. I am thisclose to making myself a skintight “This is what obesity looks like” T-shirt.

And it’s not even like I’m borderline obese. My BMI is about 35, based on my best guess of what I weigh right now (low 190s). So in fact, the only border I am on is that of obese class 2. I am, in fact, more obese than most obese people in this country. So is Fillyjonk. So is Joy Nash (at the high end of class 1, being 1 lb. heavier and 1 inch taller than class 2 FJ). So is Coco. So is Slay Belle. So is Shannon. Are you getting the picture?

I say this, as always, not to make fatter fats feel like freaks (of whom we are quite fond anyway), but to clarify why a reasonable person might be confused about the clinical definition of obesity, and just who makes up this epidemic we’re constantly hearing about. The reporters telling us that of 2000 people surveyed, 25% were obese but only 7% knew it, really seem to believe that’s because fatties are looking around at other fatties and going, “Well, gosh, I don’t look that bad, so I must not really be fat.” They don’t ever  consider that people who are class 1 obese — once again, most obese people — almost certainly realize they’re some value of “fat” but might not realize they’re over the “obese” threshold because the visual definition of “obese” they’re usually offered by THE SAME GODDAMNED MEDIA OUTLETS refers only to a tiny percentage of the population.

Oh, Murphy sort of acknowledges that, but here’s how:

The focus on the extreme in television documentaries about the very large but also in the pictures that are chosen to illustrate articles about obesity have also been held up as another potential culprit.

“If you see people with BMI of over 50, say, and you have a BMI of 40 then you may well think you aren’t too bad,” says Dr Krystyna Matyka of the University of Warwick Medical School.

OK, first, I’d just like to point out that the illustration for this very article is a close-up of belly rolls and the caption “Apparently we do not know what’s normal anymore.” Second, without knowing for sure how the stats broke down, I can almost guarantee you that the problem is not people with a BMI over 40 failing to recognize that they’re obese; it’s THE MAJORITY OF OBESE PEOPLE, WHO ARE MUCH THINNER THAN THAT.

So instead of actually teaching anyone what “obese” more commonly looks like, studies and articles like this merely reinforce the stereotype that fat people are not only ignorant but delusional. Instead of imagining people who look like Angelos or Ginny being unaware that they’re on the threshold of clinical obesity, or people like Cassie and Delilah not realizing they’ve already crossed it, the average reader imagines the headless, dehumanized, extremely fat person in the picture standing in front of a mirror, making finger guns and going, “How you doin’, slim?” Which serves the purpose of amping up discrimination against “ignorant” fat people quite well, but doesn’t actually do a goddamned thing to help the majority of obese people recognize that they qualify as such, which is supposed to be the point here, isn’t it?

Problem is, actually talking about people with a BMI just over 30 not realizing they’re officially obese, when most people wouldn’t realize it about them, either, would make it really hard to advance the thesis that fat people are idiots who lie to themselves! It’s much easier to stay vague about exactly who, among obese folks, doesn’t know it, and then “support” your thesis with lines like this:

Over half of those deemed morbidly obese believed they ate a healthy diet, while more than a third of the overweight said they had never tried to shed the pounds.

It’s not possible, of course, that over half of those deemed morbidly obese actually are eating a healthy diet. Calories in, calories out, people! Clearly, more than 50% of really fat people just DON’T KNOW THAT ALL THOSE DOUGHNUTS ARE BAD FOR THEM. Never mind that we have no idea who they are, what they’re eating, how much they exercise, or what sort of medical problems they have. Never mind that most fat people eat about the same amount as most thin people. As always, the important thing is to insist that the fattest fatties obviously know squat about nutrition and/or routinely lie to themselves about what goes in their mouths. And how about all those overweight people who have never even tried dieting — how crazy is that? I mean, just because they might look like Jessica or Kate or Meg and Jeffrey, just because they might not have been “overweight” at all before the threshold was lowered from 27 to 25, WHERE DO THOSE FATASSES GET OFF NOT EVEN DIETING?

Oh hey, speaking of which, did I mention that this is all based on an internet poll done  by market research firm YouGov for a company called Slimming World? Murphy, to her credit, does mention that. But it doesn’t stop her from ending the article with this quote from Dr. Susan Jebb of the Human Nutrition Research Laboratory of the Medical Research Council:

Everybody knows obesity is a problem for the nation, but they don’t accept it’s a problem for them – as this latest survey shows. We need to give people the confidence to recognise that it is problem, and that it’s one they can do something about.

We can totally do something about it! Like go to Slimming World! If only we have the confidence to recognize how problematic our fat is.  And of course we totally won’t gain it back within five years or fuck up our health along the way!

Now, back to that line about the morbidly obese delusionally believing they don’t eat poorly, and the overweight having the gall not to diet at all. You’ll note that there’s no mention whatsoever of the people most likely to misjudge themselves as non-obese, i.e. — sing it with me now — the majority of obese people. Do you see the bait and switch there? The story is ostensibly about obese people not even realizing how dangerously fat we are, but the examples given are of A) some obese people who surely do know they’re obese saying they eat healthfully, which is probably fucking true, and B) clinically overweight people choosing not to diet, which is probably because they’re not fucking fat (and/or they’re bright enough to realize diets don’t work).

This story says absolutely nothing about the majority of obese people, specifically. Meanwhile, 7% of those surveyed did, in fact, properly categorize themselves as obese — which happens to be a bit higher than the total percentage of morbidly obese people, suggesting that that group does, in fact, know bloody well that they qualify as obese (as do some people with a BMI lower than 40). So why are we talking about delusional death fats again? There’s also no mention of how the other obese folks categorized themselves, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess that most, if not all of them, would have gone with “overweight,” because fat people know we’re fucking fat, even if we don’t all know exactly where the BMI cut-offs are.

That just doesn’t sound nearly as good as “Apparently we do not know what’s normal anymore.”

2010 PCA/ACA Conference/Fat Studies: Call for Papers

From Julia McCrossin, a call for papers.

You can also feel free to use this as an open thread.

2010 PCA/ACA Conference

Fat Studies Area

Call for Papers

Fat Studies is becoming an interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary field of study that confronts and critiques cultural constraints against notions of “fatness” and “the fat body”; explores fat bodies as they live in, are shaped by, and remake the world; and creates paradigms for the development of fat acceptance or celebration within mass culture. Fat Studies uses body size as the starting part for a wide-ranging theorization and explication of how societies and cultures, past and present, have conceptualized all bodies and the political/cultural meanings ascribed to every body. Fat Studies reminds us that all bodies are inscribed with the fears and hopes of the particular culture they reside in, and these emotions often are mislabeled as objective “facts” of health and biology. More importantly, perhaps, Fat Studies insists on the recognition that fat identity can be as fundamental and world-shaping as other identity constructs analyzed within the academy and represented in media.

Proposals in the area of Fat Studies are being accepted for the 2010 PCA /ACA (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association) National Conference in St. Louis, MO (March 31 through April 3, 2010 at the Renaissance Grand Hotel St. Louis). We welcome papers and performances from academics, researchers, intellectuals, activists, and artists, in any field of study, and at any stage in their career.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

· representations of fat people in literature, film, music, nonfiction, and the visual arts

· cross-cultural or global constructions of fatness and fat bodies

· cultural, historical, or philosophical meanings of fat and fat bodies

· portrayals of fat individuals and groups in news, media, magazines

· fatness as a social or political identity

· fat acceptance, activism, and/or pride movements and tactics

· approaches to fat and body image in philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology

· fat children in literature, media, and/or pedagogy

· fat as it intersects with race, ethnicity, class, religion, ability, gender, and/or sexuality

· history and/or critique of diet books and scams

· functions of fatphobia or fat oppression in economic and political systems

By December 1, 2009, please send an abstract of 100 – 250 words or a completed paper to Fat Studies Area Co-Chairs Julia McCrossin ( and Lesleigh Owen (

Please include your complete contact information and a CV and/or 50 word bio, along with anticipated A/V needs. All submissions are welcome, but please use the information above to ensure your paper fits within the academic and political scopes of Fat Studies. Please also be mindful that Fat Studies is a political project and not merely an umbrella term for all discussions of larger bodies. Also, we encourage submitters to rethink using words like “obesity” and “overweight” in their presentations unless they are used ironically, within quotes, or accompanied by a political analysis.

Presenters must become members of the Popular Culture Association. Find more information on the conference and organization at

I wrote about Drop Dead Diva

kateicon Caught up on the last few episodes, and wrote about them over at Jezebel. Conclusion:

But I can get past it enough to enjoy Drop Dead Diva for what it is — a fairly typical Lady Network show with a lot of atypical, unprecedented, truly body-positive twists. It’s not 100% PUF-approved, but holy crap, it’s a better portrayal of a fat woman than damn near anything I’ve seen since Roseanne, so I would really like to see this show do well. Since they already seem to have cut down on the binge-eating gags in recent episodes (THANK YOU), and they can only do so much about the premise, all I can really ask for is a little more sensitivity to the pitfalls of having Deb learn shit in Jane’s body that should be obvious to any thinking person, fat or thin. Oh, and more Fred. For the love of all that’s holy, do not take Fred away from us again.

To see what I had to get past and what PUF stands for, among other things, go read the whole (long) thing. Then discuss.

Tuesday Post

Ok, yesterday’s open thread worked pretty well, so I’ll keep it going. This time, I even have a topic. Just got this from Charlotte Cooper via Facebook:

Dear rad fatties around the world,

I am co-organising an event here in London called The Fat of the Land: A Queer Chub Harvest Festival. It’s a mixture of food festival, DIY punk stuff, fat politics, performance, and some silly stuff too. It’s secular but draws on harvest festival traditions.

It would be amazing to see a bunch of you here, but I know that geography and travel and money and everyday hassles make this difficult.

HOWEVER, you can still help out from afar.

Many of the people coming to the Fat of the Land are going to be new to fat stuff, and part of my dream for the event is that it awakens people to the notion that there are a lot of people all over the place already thinking about and organising around this subject.

What I’m looking for are messages of support from rad fatties around the world. Just a paragraph or so, about anything you like, but also expressing support for fat queers in the UK and the fat of the land in particular. Tell us what you think it would be helpful or encouraging to hear. I will publish the messages on the blog and display them at the event.

If you’ve got something to say to Fat of the Land attendees, post it here! And if you are in a geographical position to attend, check out the website!