Tasha Fierce wrote an incredibly personal essay As Fat As I Wanna Be, which was picked up by Jezebel and has touched off a bit of a dust up in the comment section. If you value your Sanity Watcher points I strongly suggest you avoid reading the comments.
Tasha Fierce says:
When someone is fat shamed, the person doing the shaming often justifies it as them being concerned for the fat person’s health. Of course we know that’s bullshit. Fatphobia has nothing to do with health, if someone was really concerned they wouldn’t harp on it to the detriment of fat people’s self esteem. And a ton of fat people can attest that they eat healthily and exercise. I however, cannot. So is the health argument justified in my case? Well, no, because fat also has nothing to do with health. It’s the food I eat that’s the issue. It’s the fact that I eat when I’m definitely not physically hungry. It’s my lack of exercise.
Tasha’s passage here echoes much of the conversation regarding false good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy. While the most vitriolic of commenters on the Jezebel repost scanned as nothing more than garden variety concern trolls, it would be reductive to suggest there wasn’t a bit of the sentiment coming from within the Fat Acceptance movement as well.
This divide is unworthy of any size acceptance movement because in the real world, we all straddle these lines, and trying to create a homogenized group of “acceptable” fat people only further marginalizes the fat people who, for reasons both within and outside their control, can’t fit into that category. Not everyone can afford a gym membership or fresh produce; not everyone has time to cook healthful balanced meals from whole foods, or to spend an hour running to nowhere on a treadmill; and not everyone can stave off health problems, no matter how virtuous their habits may be.
Marginalized groups must work to resist the tendency to devalue or bristle over any member whose actions might be viewed as “making the rest of us look bad”. The work to end all forms of oppression does not involve policing group members to ensure they are “on message”. Ending oppression – be it fat or racial or gender or whathaveyou – requires an active commitment to resist any cultural messaging seeking to frame one member of a marginalized group as representative of all members – regardless of whether the framing presents the members in a negative or positive light.
This can sometimes be difficult to deal with as a person who often feels uncomfortable when I see other women of color behaving in ways I feel are counterproductive to the struggle to end racist, sexist oppression. That said, if I really value being seen as an individual first, rather than my gender, size, race, then I must accept that other women are also free to make choices about the way they lead their lives as well. More importantly, I must actively work to ensure their ability to make choices I might not personally make is free of sexist, transphobic, classist, ableist, homophobic, racist and sizeist oppression. After all, they are my sisters – regardless of whether or not my own lived experiences mirror theirs or I agree with their life choices.
In my opinion, if we can’t all get to the mountain top it just ain’t worth going.
Fans of Murder, She Wrote are often as fascinated by every detail of the opening credit sequence as they are with the actual episodes. In the sequence, Jessica engages in a host of wholesome activities having little to do with staging murders to later solve or writing about those staged murders. The exception is a few scenes providing the audience a glimpse into Jessica’s writing process, which involves a lot of focused keystroking, carriage returning and the shuffling of papers into what looks to be a menu from Red Lobster.
The few flashes of manuscript – thought to be from Fletcher’s first novel, The Corpse Danced at Midnight – only allow viewers seconds to absorb this particular phrase:
I vacillate between sensing there is more to the Arnold story than twelve seasons worth of episodes and two seconds of screen time reveal to believing Arnold – like the second most famous guest star appearing in any episode of Murder, She Wrote – is just a red herring. As far as I know neither the producers of the program nor Angela Lansbury have ever publicly addressed the issue. In addition, Arnold has never come forward with his own version of the events.
I should point out one of my favorite Murder, She Wrote related activity is coming up with lyrics for the instrumental theme:
There is a murder, a murder she wrote…Jessica can kill you by bus, bike or boat… Jessica, get out of there (cello solo) Jessica, get out of there…
It’s Friday and in some areas of the country – though not here – it’s Spring. It’s a fluffy open post, which hopefully will stay fluffy and can encompass any range of topics, AS LONG AS IT IS FLUFFY in nature. If you can cuddle it, water it, read it, write it, hot glue it, dance to it in your undies or bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes it’s all good. You can even dish Murder, She Wrote. Whatever.
In the meantime please enjoy this faithfully rendered send up of the opening sequence.
A version of this previously appeared on Snarky’s Machine
Jezebel ran a post called How Tragic Kingdom Saved My Life and while that particular album didn’t evoke a similar response in me, I adore the idea of dishing the music that’s been instrumental in one’s life.
I suspect that most of us have an ultimate soundtrack filled with songs for different occasions and from different eras of our lives. Growing up in the 80s I was exposed to a variety of musical styles and artists – and much of it was mad cheesy. Despite having interests reflective of many genres – including the oft derided country and hip hop – I still find myself going back to the same few artists: David Bowie, Earth, Wind & Fire, Lyle Lovett, The Legendary Pink Dots (I was a teenage goth) and for some inexplicable reason Eric Clapton – don’t ask, it’s a long story.
I wish I could say I had uber amazing in taste in music, but I don’t. I like all kinds of foolishness without shame or a clear understanding of the concept: guilty pleasure. I don’t like listening to radio unless it involves blathering about cooking, gardening or alien abductions . I tend to like the structure of a set schedule of programming, given that I have ADHD and all.
What kind of music are you enjoying of late? Recommend something. Enjoy. Let’s be fluffy, respectful and all that jazz – yes, I love me some showtunes.
Currently, I can’t get enough of McCartney particularly the instrumental “Momma Miss America”:
I get it. Discussing the fabulous ordinary whiteness of being as portrayed in Stillman films such as Last Days of Disco and Metropolitan is really hot. He creates fantastic, witty – albeit incredibly fatuous and pretentious – characters, giving them meaningful goals and interesting things to say. And I like what you said in terms of Stillman’s ability to put aside the snark in favor of crafting a substantial, sympathetic and realistic portrayal of a generally maligned group: yuppies (though often for highly understandable reasons). Your comments echoed those of reviewer Christopher Long of DVDTown who said:
Stillman isn´t here to mock. He had every chance to do it in “Metropolitan” with his privileged, self-absorbed young socialites who obsessed over literary criticism and televised debutante balls. But Stillman loved his characters not just despite but because of their foibles, and he treats his disco-loving drifters with the same gentle sensibility.
There was a lot of what I believed was appropriate passion in your voice as you quoted your favorite lines of dialog from the LDoD. That is until I glanced away from you face and noticed you were fumbling wildly with the lump rising in your rumpled and stained khaki pants. Okay, maybe fumbling wildly is a bit of an exaggeration, given that we were in Barnes & Noble, it was reasonably well lit and there were a few other patrons in our general area. That said, we can both agree you were conjuring up the contents of your boxer in a way that felt – well – problematic.
I’ll admit my share of the blame – as limited as it might be – because I am the kind of person starved for meaningful discourse about films. I have my mom and my boyfriend and that’s about it. Most people just don’t have the desire to delve that deeply into the kind of films I enjoy viewing. Now this isn’t to suggest my tastes skew towards the obscure, the pretentious or the punishing; they don’t. But rather, I tend to regard every film I view as ripe for cultural deconstruction, even if it does happen to feature Harrison Ford in the lead role.
I will also admit my eagerness to dish film whenever I get a chance does often causes me to act against my own best interests. That said, I’m just not willing to take on the responsibility for your wayward boner. That’s what the whole, “Motherfucker, please. Go bunch your slacks on someone who gives a shit!” business was all about. Yeah, I was kind of loud and indignant about it and I’m real sorry you were asked to leave the store before you were able to find some other fool to love you.
Okay, actually I’m not really sorry about that.
Now I’m really trying to get out of the telling business, but I feel I must give you this parting piece of unsolicited advice:
In the future if you’re talking to a gal who makes you go bunchy in the dockers region, and you’d rather not get cussed out in public (I could tell you didn’t much enjoy that one bit) or watch others get the attention you worked hard to cultivate, perhaps you might save your slack bunching for the privacy of your home, car or depending on your previous criminal record – a long subway ride.
I’m not here to judge, but oh c’mon. Seriously? Where exactly did you see this train headed? If you seriously did not realize the train was going to DERAIL, then consider this your painfully humiliating wake up call. Trust me, you got off easy – well technically you didn’t get off, ew, actually let’s not even go there. But I was a lot nicer to you because I was in a good mood and you had given me 3 minutes of non Skeevy Wonder time. I guess happy endings really are alike.
Well, maybe not for you.
PS: Nobody leans their dirty, bunchy trousers on Snarky’s Machine.
_______________________________________________________________ This entry previously appeared on Snarky’s Machine with a much longer title.
I once signed up for a dating site and despite stating I was chubby/fat/whole lotta woman I frequently received messages of the “well just exactly how fat are we talking?” variety.
These assclowns had a lot of cheek demanding I clarify shit that was spelled out when their own profiles often rocked euphemisms like freelancer. Have a job or learn a trade or write a novel – just don’t waste my time with high flying acts of chow chowery designed to disguise your lack of ambition. I didn’t care what folks looking to date me – when I was on the market, so to speak – did for work/living/rent scratch, as long as it didn’t involve sitting on my couch all damn day, burning up my internets and making my light bill sky high – while graciously allowing me the privilege of financing their fuckery.
It should go without saying, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT FOLKS WHO ARE UNABLE TO WORK. It should go without saying, but since it won’t – for the privileged hard headed folks in the cheap seats1 (cause of that whole othering POC thing, which frames our word choices as far more loaded and intentions far more sinister than if the same words were written by a NWL) – I’ve said it HERE AND NOW.
Playa, do you have a jobby job or what? Well just exactly how deadbeatish are we talking?
If the spirit moved me, my reply might go something like this:
Go to American Eagle/Gap/Macy’s and pick up a pair of [size redacted to avoid “you’re an inbetweenie” derailing] pants and hold them up to the light. If they look “too fat” then my delicious fat ass is TOO FAT FOR YOU. Good day to you, sir!
I am fat. I am a chunkerbutt. I am hourglassy. I got real big tits. I got a real small waist. I got some hips. I’m 5’0ish. My weight fluctuations have mirrored that of my personal hero Chaka Khan. Sometimes I’m Chaka Khan “I Feel For You” size.
For like ten minutes in 2002 I was Sweet Thing chubby and often wore my hair and clothes like that.
Mostly, I’m Chaka “Ain’t Nobody” fat2 Oddly enough I have that outfit and sometimes my hair looks like that, except dark brown. Damn, I wish I could SING LIKE THAT, though.
I used to hesitate calling myself fat, not because of any shame – cause I don’t have any – but with an earnest desire NOT to misappropriate the term, in real life only when I won’t let a zombie playa street harass me or on the web or when I’m on certain meds, do I get called fat to my face. Chubby is the way I acknowledge I fully understand that my fat is relative and my experiences have often been relatively free from the kind of tormenting – though I’ve certainly had my share – faced by those bigger than I am.
Besides, you just aren’t going to hurt my feelings by pointing out the OBVIOUS.
With FULL FRONTAL FUCKING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I am an “acceptable” kind of fat given the shape of my body and my height – my fat gets a “pass” not because I’m black. Not even cause I got real big tits, but mostly because as a black woman I’m just not supposed to be “sexy” or desired anyway. Sexualized, yes. Sexy, not so much. Being called fat – when it’s tossed about in as an insult and in an ignorant manner – is another way of saying, “You’re supposed to something else. Something a little less eye sore-ing and a lot more crotch tenting/soaking.”
In addition being fat isn’t my sole visible oppression. There are few others that get way more attention, thus it’s not always at the top of my lists of things I need to deal with, but it’s always there. Moreover, it doesn’t change how I practice my activism, which is different than most people.
I don’t seek to win hearts and minds. That’s not my style and besides, they are way better folks for that job. I don’t care what people think as long as it doesn’t blow up my spot or the spots of others dealing with oppressions. What I care about is behavior. My activism seeks to make it unpleasant and EMBARRASSING and EXPENSIVE to engage in fuckery. My style of activism – whether it pertains to fat or other -isms – seeks to cause folks tremendous shame and discomfort so they STOP ENGAGING IN THE BEHAVIOR and pressure others to do the same. That’s why I’m nasty when I smack down acts of -ism fuckery. I’m not trying to get folks to “embrace a diverse range of voices” – I’m way too pragmatic for that – I’m just trying to get them to STOP WHATEVER FUCKERY THEY ARE DOING, hopefully embarrassing them and causing others to give it serious thought before engaging in similar behavior.
I am all about the “you ain’t got to go home, but you’ve got to get the fuck up on out of here” style of activism. I’m like Eastwood after beating down a mess of assclowns who then looks around and says, “Anyone else want some of this?”
I’ll give you an example. I used to work with a woman who often used the term “Porch Monkey” (hopefully I don’t need to explain why that’s not a good thing when the bulk of the org’s service users were BLACK). I am not the freaking thought police. I don’t care what she thought about black folks, provided it didn’t inform her treatment of them at work and as it related to the services she was supposed to be providing.
I made things REALLY unpleasant. I tattled. I brought it up in meetings and finally demanded they bring in a diversity specialist to shame us all via workshops for two long days. You know what, after that, I never had to say another word and wouldn’t you know she modified her behavior. If she even started to say any word with a “pah” sound there were like five coworkers ready to bitch about not wanting to do “race training” again. Moreover, she became a better worker, when she actually had to do her work rather than complain about the folks she served. You’d be surprised how quickly folks change their behavior when the price is too high to stay the same.
I didn’t care that my doctor – initially – blathered on about my size when I had good numbers and came in for vaginal tune up. His thoughts about my size or his biases were not my business; his behavior was. So I complained. I ranted at him. I ranted for all the fatties who aren’t as mean as me.
Three years later, he’s the one proselytizing HAES and FA when I lose my way. Think I changed his heart or his mind? No. But I damn sure changed his behavior. And if you happen to go to him, you best believe he won’t be concern trolling you about your fat.
I’d do this for fatties who love me. I’d do this for fatties who hate me. I will have your back even if I don’t like you. If someone’s blowing up your spot (regardless of -ism), you can call on Snarky’s Machine. I’ll smack ’em down hard enough to harsh their ancestors’s mellows. Seriously. Nothing gives me more pleasure – other than sex and cupcakes – than telling an assclown where to go and how to fucking get there.
As a fat activist, that’s how I roll.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a hairbrush and a standing room only engagement of Through the Fire I need to attend to. Hopefully I can finish before the neighbors call to report hearing the sounds of small animals fighting in the dumpster.
___________________________________________ 1 don’t even start. “Cheap Seats” is a termed most often attributed to Broadway where there is no such thing. 2 and sometimes this version of Ain’t Nobody fat too And you better believe I strapped big ass into an outfit JUST LIKE THIS ONE in my goth days and you couldn’t tell me shit except, “Play on, playerette.”
What’s currently thrilling you – pop culture wise. Books, music, movies, interesting blogs? Share with the rest of the class. Also, why aren’t you reading and commenting on Snarky’s Machine? Tsk Tsk! After Kate’s electrifying post oh yes, I’m most certainly going to toot my own clown horn, baby. You’ve seen me here. You’ll soon see me on Bitch Magazine guest blogging this summer. You want more Snarky’s and I love giving people what they want.
And even though I’m pretty sure this song didn’t come out during the spring, it always reminds me of Spring. Snow be damned! I’m putting on my springy dress and maybe even a big silly hat.
I present Miss Chaka Khan for your chair dancing pleasure.
So as the title says, Tell me (and each other) something good.
Toot your own clown horns, Shapelings! This thread is open and ready to serve you!
MSN Health is running a story about folks who have shed weight, but not the fantasy of being thin. The article – saddled with a terribly clown hornian title “Skinny Dream Bubble Burst” – had all the greatest hits of TFOBT.
That said, it was incredibly heart breaking to read this early in the morning with snow falling gently over Vermont.
Here’s how the article’s main subject Jen Larsen is described:
Despite being a self-described “accomplished fat girl,” with a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of San Francisco, a great job working in the school’s academic library, a slew of friends and a loving boyfriend, Larsen thought her life had hit a plateau. By age 32, she believed she’d be writing a book, “doing something important,” she says. The only thing holding her back, she thought, was weight. […] Larsen thought skinny came with a mega-boost of self confidence. And a huge dollop of happiness. She thought she’d be dynamic and brave and ready to take on the world, just because she was thin.
“I think fat people are sold a fantasy, and then get no support in the reality, because we’re simply supposed to be grateful that we’re no longer fat,”
The article stops short of suggesting anything approaching FA or HAES. In fact, it suggests the way to dealing with the disco fame hangover is to tamp down expectations once weight goals are achieved. I don’t know about you, but I’m just not sure people work that way.
There’s a lot of chow chow about naughty media preying on folks and we’ve all heard that before. But nothing approaching a serious analysis. (fortunately, that’s what SP does!) The article seems unaware of the extent to which culturally sanctioned messages telling us getting thinner impact fatties, regardless of whether or not they diet. It’s clown horn journalism at its finest.
Or as Kate put it:
The question is, who do you really want to be, and what are you going to do about it? (Okay, two questions.) The Fantasy of Being Thin is a really convenient excuse for not asking yourself those questions sincerely — and that’s exactly why it’s dangerous. It keeps you from being not only who you are, but who you actually could be, if you worked with what you’ve got. And that person trapped inside you really might be cooler than you are right now.
She’s just not thin.
Just another reminder of why I love FA so fucking much.
*opted to change the title after reflecting on the term and not wanting to upset folks or hurt feelings.
Tasha Fierce is THE shit! Her work been featured on Racialicious and Jezebel. She’s the creative director and the real boss of IFMiB, which is to say she handles all the administrative duties while I dish Milos Forman!
Shapelings, show your love for Miss Fierce.
So screeching, overly pushy Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels refuses to “ruin her body with pregnancy“, in other words, fatten up. Think of the stretch marks! The post-baby pooch! Apparently Ms. Michaels was fat as a teen and just can’t handle having a baby mess up her weigh ins again. I don’t want to judge her choice to not bear children, it’s her body – but I don’t appreciate the implicit fatphobia implied in saying pregnancy would ruin her body.
This celebrity aversion to gaining weight during pregnancy is nothing new, of course. It’s unfortunate that it’s the case, however, because it just ends up fat shaming women, who don’t have access to trainers or 5 hours of time to spend every day working out, and tend to gain much more weight while pregnant. And again, it just goes back to the general fatphobia constantly pervading our collective consciousness, to the point that the natural and needed weight gain associated with pregnancy is something to be reviled and avoided at all costs.
The whole celebrity “lose the baby weight in 10 days” drama plays out on the pages of tabloids every day. Because female celebrities are unfortunately seen as role models for everyday women, losing the weight fast after pregnancy is seen as a primary goal to be reached, even to the detriment of a woman’s self-image and esteem – or even health. Women are made to feel bad if they gain too much weight during pregnancy or take too long to lose it.
You see the effects in makeover shows featuring women trying desperately to lose the baby weight and devaluing their own bodies for the changes it went through during pregnancy. If we can’t be fat at the one time in our lives that weight gain is supposed to be healthy, that obviously doesn’t bode well for those of us that are just plain fat. So please, Ms. Michaels, adopt as many kids as you want and never bear a child, but refrain from saying that a fat body is “ruined”. Of course, when your whole job consists of fat shaming, this may be too much to ask.
Kathy Kinney (best known as Mimi on The Drew Carey Show) has co-authored a book with a publishing exec I’ve never heard of named Cindy Ratzlaff – the book’s website states: Ratzlaff is a publishing executive, who created marketing campaigns for more than 100 New York Times best-selling books, including The South Beach Diet, as though that’s something to proud of – entitled Queen of Your Own Life due out soon.
In my opinion Queen of Your Own Life is yet another vaguely prescriptive tome of the “You Go, Girl” variety. While I found its premise – though not necessarily all the actions prescribed – not entirely terrible, but still ultimately riddled with lots of problematic analysis of why folks struggle in their lives.
From the book:
By letting go of things like self-doubt, fear of being judged and worry about how to look younger, we were setting ourselves free to admire who we were right now. We were overjoyed to discover that we did admire the women we had become. We were two strong women, who brought with them to the second half of life courage, wisdom and, most of all, the knowledge that they could survive anything with their dignity and humor intact.
Now on the surface this appears all well and good; finding the path towards self acceptance. However, it’s a bit presumptive and problematic to flatten various life experiences so individual blues are somehow analogous.
Since Ratzlaff is in fact a marketing maven, she has taken the message to Oprah. Take notes, kids – 90% of effective marketing is targeting the right audience for your product; well she’s hit the jackpot.
Even the seemingly altruistic article posted on Oprah’s site reads like a thinly veiled infomercial for the book, which is certainly their prerogative, but I mean we can all be the queen of our lives if we’ve got access to Oprah’s powerful platform! And what a glorious platform it is!
I opted to rearrange the list in 1 – 10 order rather than utilize the Casey Kasem top ten format seen in the article. Mostly to illustrate there’s nothing new here, even if one hasn’t read the slew of happiness related books currently blanketing the market, from The Happiness Project to The How of Happiness.
1. Pass it on. “Hear ye, hear ye,” says the queen.
2. Place the crown firmly on your head. You queen up well.
3. Learn the simple trick to finally being happy. As we say in the Midwest, “It’s time to poop or get off the pot.”
4. Set strong boundaries. Mean what you say and say what you mean.
5. Build and nurture trusting friendships. Face life’s joys and challenges with a friend by your side.
6. Admire yourself. Give yourself a Windy Mountain Moment so you can appreciate who you’ve become.
7. Language matters. The words we choose to speak to ourselves and about ourselves are important.
8. Claim your beauty and power. End the mirror’s reign of terror.
9. Keep. What do you really like about yourself? Identify your strengths and decide what you want to keep from the first half of your life that’s still working for you.
10. Banish. Let go of a thought or action from the first half of your life that is no longer working for you.
My problem with the book or others of this zeitgeist genre is not with concept of action steps folks can take to better their outlook on life, but rather the notion that faithful application of said action steps ought to result in finally getting all the things one believes they so richly deserved. These books are often framed from the premise-behind-the-premise folks have the right to be “happy” and “fulfilled” – a worldview I simply do not support. I don’t even wish to open the can of worms these books present from a privilege/oppression standpoint, though it’s chief among my quibbles. What happens if you follow the instruction to the letter and find that life does not dramatically change or unicorns do not magically appear on your lawn, prancing about? Do you then attribute such failure to your inability to thoroughly grasp the concepts? Do you get your money back? Do they parade you through the streets wearing an “I am the court jester of my own life!” t-shirt? The book did not guarantee anything in writing the way – say Midas guarantees its mufflers and the work by its mechanics – but there is an implicit suggestion that any failure to make the magic happen can be attributed to the reader. I can imagine the “If only…” rebuttals readers who aren’t able to rule their queendom in style have in store for them.
If I sound a bit harsh – though, honestly I don’t think I do – I attribute it to longing for something different from the book, which had me at…Kathy Kinney. I was looking for some of the wit and astute observations I’d noticed in interviews and what I believe I observed in her portrayal of Mimi, which I found in a few instances to both trade in and subvert fat tropes simultaneously.
And before you – the editorial “you” – jump in to tell me maybe I could use a little “happiness” literature in my life, I should tell you I am quite satisfied with my life. Is it perfect? HELL NO. Do I expect it to be? HELL NO. I am dazzled each day by the things in my life that are going well. I am grateful for the wonderful family, great friends, meaningful work, agency over 75% of my time and loving partner I have. Do I feel entitled to any of this?
I believe you do the best you can and you get what you get; it’s all fine to work to dismantle systems of oppression, but in the meantime you have to live your LIFE in the here and now. Hmmm, maybe I should write a book and get mine on the shelves in time to profit from the inevitable happiness lit backlash.
______________________________________________________________________ A version of this entry previously appeared on Snarky’s Machine.
Treme – HBO’s hot anticipated series by writer/producer/personal patron saint David Simon (The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street) premiered last Sunday to exTREMEly glowing reviews from Simon fanboys and television critics alike.
Will it be as good as “The Wire”? Three episodes in, I’m willing to say “Treme” (the title is two syllables; it rhymes with away) has the potential to be better than “The Wire.”
Them’s probably fightin’ words to fans of The Wire.
While I appreciate The Wire I am an old school Simonite. Treme evokes Homicide: Life on the Street in terms of character development and tone than it does The Wire, which if you know anything about me is the best news ever.
Treme tells the story of NoLa (New Orleans) in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and honey, they have brought it in terms of casting: John Goodman, Melissa Leo (H:LOTS, Frozen River), Wendell Pierce, Michiel Huisman, Khandi Alexander, Steve Zahn, Kim Dickens and Clarke Peters. I expect there will be cameos and guest appearances by many other bright stars in the Simon universe.