However, that doesn’t mean we’re free of fatphobia just yet. There’s a number of studies that show that the size of your body has nothing to do with its overall health, but unfortunately, the idea persists even today that if someone is fat, it means that they’re not taking care of their body and are unhealthy. This isn’t true, but many people believe it—even doctors. Enter today’s web crush, Fat Safe Medical.
Let’s face it: finding media of any sort that’s ready to delve into fat acceptance is few, far, and in between, especially when it comes to heavier girls and women. As we here at LGG&F are all about body positivity no matter one’s size or looks, I feel it’s important to share when we come across pieces of media that may focus on addressing on some of these issues. Or, if not addressing these issues head on, at least acknowledging that they do exist and that these standards we force on people in the name of beauty are ultimately harmful. Additionally, it’s good to point out that while body acceptance might be a topic or a theme in said media, that it may not necessarily be tackled in the best way. This is the case with the manga Pochamani.
While we’ve already looked at this cute shoujo series once before, I wanted to look at it a bit more in-depth concerning the issues it covers now that I’ve read it for myself. And while I still had my disappointments, I discovered that there was more beneath the surface than I was originally expecting.
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve adored musicals. If this is the case, you may be wondering to yourself, “well Rin, how come you haven’t written any Theatre Thursday posts?” My answer to that it is that while I love them, I tend to watch the same ones over and over again, so my amassed knowledge really isn’t all that impressive. And, when it comes to the musicals I have seen, I’m an unrepentant snob. (Don’t even talk to me about the 2007 release of Sweeney Todd.) However, as attached as I am to the musicals I’ve seen, I don’t like to completely write off re-makes until I’ve actually seen them for myself, and after Lady Saika wrote a post on the bubbly musical Hairspray, I figured it was about time that I finally sat down and watched it.
Hairspray, at least the 1988 John Waters film, has been one of my favorite films for a long while, beautiful in its kitschy glory and tongue-in-cheek look back on small town America during the 1960’s. (The plot is mostly the same as the musical’s, so I’m not going to go over it. If you want to know more, take a look at Saika’s post.) Yet I wouldn’t call the source material a musical, not really: it’s more of a dance-ical. There are songs—a whole album’s worth of songs—but there’s no singing involved, only small interludes of dancing. This already gives the musical adaptation an interesting challenge. And after watching it, I have to admit they handled it pretty well, even if some of my favorite scenes didn’t make it in. Unfortunately, I don’t have many other kind words for the musical. When comparing the two, I found that they actually removed a lot of the empowering moments from the original movie in addition to removing the agency from some of the major characters.
Somewhere in the dark, shadowy, and very wide valley between “body positivity” and “objectification”, there’s a herd of lost, confused people stumbling about blindly and shouting that feminism is some contradictory bullshit. Lest those poor souls waste away down there, I think it’s time we illustrate just how big and treacherous and sexy that valley is.
Thanks to movements like Escher Girls and The Hawkeye Initiative, which bring attention to objectification through humor, the geek community is becoming more vocal about the problematic ways that women are depicted in certain comics, manga, and video games. The problem, of course, isn’t unique to illustrated or computer-generated media, but because artists aren’t limited by trifling little things like biology or the laws of physics, they can pull off fascinating maneuvers like the boob sleeve:
This bread dough I’m smuggling has developed sentience! (gif via knowyourmeme)
Recently we got an email from a young fan which, among other things, told us about this petition for Disney to make a plus-size princess. Creator Jewel Moore, an American high school student, said on the petition, “I know many younger plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positivie (sic) plus-size character in the media. I want there to be a character for those little girls to look up to.”
That’s certainly a laudable goal, and from even a cursory look at Disney movies, we can tell that they use a cartoonish, overly dramatic, white feminine form as a standard for their princesses (in Disney’s most recent movie, Frozen, the girls’ wrists are thinner than their huge eyes). Beyond the usual argument that Disney only makes stick-thin model princesses, though, it’s clear that Disney has a very exacting definition of feminine. All the princesses are thin, yes; all of them also come armed with varying virtues like determination, kindness, intelligence, and integrity. They even all have long hair. Disney has defined feminine in such a way that if a girl doesn’t squeeze herself within these narrow confines, she’s practically labeled “not a girl”.
And well beyond the iron fist of Disney, it seems that the rest of our media content has also adopted this definition of feminine. There are rarely fat characters on TV, and if they are, the characters are stereotypes obsessed with either eating or losing weight; they aren’t fully developed characters. Similarly, there may be female villains, but there aren’t female jerkwads on the side of good, as Dom recently pointed out. This fear of the so-called “unfeminine” only adds to continuing negative attitudes toward women, while doing nothing to advance the creation of more varied, interesting characters and plotlines.
Hairspray is a musical about a fat girl named Tracy who just wants to make it big on a local variety and dance show. In her quest to do so, she gets the guy and ends racism! Yay!
The one tragic thing about having your feminist critical eye opened is that it becomes harder to enjoy things that have problematic elements. I really love Hairspray—it’s a feel-great show with tremendously catchy music—but upon sitting down to critique it, I realized I’d have to be pretty hard on it. Continue reading →
Have you ever run into that one site that seemed as though it was made just for you?
Back when I was in college, I went through a series of months where I just felt incredibly shitty about myself. Nothing I did was right and perhaps because of my Virgo nature I judged myself about one hundred times more harshly than anyone else. I just couldn’t find my worth. It was at this time in my life that I came across ‘Two Whole Cakes’ (or ‘Fatshionista’ as it happened to be called when I first read it), a blog focused on calling out the prevalence of body policing in everyday pop-culture with some sass on the side. For those months when I read through archives in their entirety, author Lesley Kinzel became my goddess and I slowly, but surely, began to allow myself a grace I had never allowed myself before: I began to accept that I was never going to fit into those size six jeans and, more important still, that this didn’t mar my worth as a person.
In fact, the more I read, the more I realized that I was quite similar to Lesley not only in terms of the physical, but also in terms of interests. Although these days it’s much easier to find a female opinion on things of a geeky nature, it’s less so to find one from one that will openly state that they’re overweight. While this might not seem like a big deal to some, it really is. Especially when considering that the female image in video games and comics is so strictly controlled by males who, let’s face it, probably belong to the ‘no fat chicks allowed’ club. Lesley helped open my eyes to these types of issues, and after reading her site was the first time I ever thought to myself, “I can do this. I can write about this.”
But why bring this site up now? Well, for one, it’s wonderful and I really think everyone should read at least a couple of the posts on there, especially if you have any feelings on the body positivity movement. For another, I want to thank Lesley for what she and her blog have done for me in the small chance that she sees this. Also, and perhaps more selfishly, with the holidays coming and going as they do, there’s a little bit of a stigma around enjoying yourself to the fullest. What I mean is that a vast majority of us overeat during the holidays and then feel like shit about it afterwards, especially when the new year comes and there’s a whole new batch of diet commercials that only serve to remind you of dinner plates past. However, not this year! This year, I shall remind myself that indulging once or twice a year doesn’t make me awful. That gaining a pound or two is perfectly acceptable. That my body is my own and that others need to step off if they ever think telling me what to do with my body is acceptable (unless asked). So you, dear readers, if at any time during this holiday you feel like curling up on your bed and marathon-ing all of Doctor Who with a bottle of champagne and a bowl full of cookies at your side, do it. And don’t let anyone else make you feel worse for the decision.
I’ll leave you with the author herself talking explaining her blog better than I ever could.