So, here at Fattitude we have decided that rather than gripe and rave about the media we see all week to each other – we are going to share our raves and rants with you! If you think there is something we’ve missed that we so have to see – let us know by either commenting below or messaging us on facebook!
Viri: I was sitting in my personal heaven, an outdoor movie viewing, watching the classic The Goonies (1985) when it hit me: Chunk saves the day. For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Goonies (fix that asap — it’s a time machine to your youth), it’s about a group of kids on a quest for buried treasure to help save their neighborhood from becoming a golf course, effectively evicting them. It’s a whirlwind of humor in adolescence and one of the driving forces of jokes is a fat kid aptly named “Chunk.” I certainly acknowledge the film is bursting at the seams with problematic fat jokes. In the lexicon of outcast coming-of-age films, I’m sure The Goonies has its handprints in the cement for setting up these archetypes. However, for humor’s sake, let’s just entertain the idea that Chunk’s love of food literally saves the day. When Chunk befriends Sloth (an imprisoned deformed brother to a family of robbers), he offers a Baby Ruth as a peace offering. They share a love of chocolate and that brings them together as a team that ultimately leads to everyone’s survival. He may be the butt of the joke the entire film, but no one would’ve gotten out alive if it weren’t for him. So yes, lest we forget Chunk being forced to do the “Truffle Shuffle” to entertain his friends and that his permanent clumsy nature is counted on and strategically taken advantage of, but let’s also entertain that our love of food can put us on common ground and unite us to work together. I know, I know, I’m over thinking it, but hey, in a sea of problematic pop culture stereotypes, sometimes reinterpreting the text can inspire far greater stories and heroes.
Lindsey: Does anyone watch AWKWARD.? I regularly feel like I am too old to be watching this show – but holy Jesus is it irreverent, funny and often super smart. Okay, so I’m mentioning this show becuase what I want to talk about is the character Sadie Saxton. In season 1 Sadie was the fat girl and the bully. (The actress who plays her has since last weight – so now she’s a thin bully). Sadie is the clear antagonist to the thin quirky lead, Jenna. Basically Sadie is a super bitch. In the episode “Queen Bee-Atches” viewers confirm Sadie’s fatness as her Achilles’ heel. Viewer’s understanding of Sadie’s relationship with her fatness is two-fold. The plot of “Queen Bee-Atches” revolves around Jenna stealing and threatening to expose Sadie’s ‘food journal,’ which includes the intimate details of Sadie’s attempts to diet and lose weight. First, we come to understand that Sadie buys into the notions of diet culture and fat phobia and then we are shown that calling attention to or ‘outing’ Sadie’s fatness would undermine her power. During one particular scene viewers are privy to a rant in which Sadie details her personal understanding of fatness as complicit in a fat girl’s unsuccessful future and experience. In the scene Sadie laments to her mother (Heather Mazur), who is chastising her for eating a cookie. Sadie who is usually portrayed a force to be reckoned with is crying and red faced as she explains that because she’s fat she’s “going to die alone,” meaning no one will ever be sexually attracted to her except a “lesbian lover who would rather eat pizza than have sex,” and than she notes that she is powerless to her “sausage arms and the Jenny Craig that lives inside her head” (Iungerich). The implication here is that Sadie –who we can clearly understand as sexist, racist and homophobic– is fat-phobic and fat-hating. We understand this because of the severity of her emotional reaction to the discussion and also through her words. She sees her fat body as outside of normality, i.e. she believes that fatness will keep her from being successful and “perfect,” which she defines as in line with the thin-thinking or the thin ideal of the ‘master-consciousness.’ Sadie finishes her diatribe by saying “You have no idea how hard I’m trying, mom” (Iungerich). Sadie’s mother’s response, “Honey, I know you are, and you will be successful if you track what you eat,” which Sadie agrees with, confirms the ideals of fat phobia and diet culture, i.e. the that Sadie can dominate her bodily desire for food and shrink her body and therefor rise above the social stigma of her fatness. So what I’m wondering is when will super smart shows – shows often that get the complexity of social justice – stop being fat-phobic?
Melissa: I was really touched and entertained by “The What’s Underneath Project” video featuring #OITNB star Lea DeLaria by Style Like U. Even though Lea and I have different backgrounds and lifestyles, I related to almost everything she spoke about on some level, especially experiencing your emotions without trying to stuff them down or control them. I just love that as the conversation became deeper and more vulnerable, more clothing was removed. It reminded me of peeling off the layers of an onion until you get to the middle. I have such an appreciation and respect for Lea and loved seeing her in this light.
I also Loved Ruby Roxx’s open letter to those harpooning Photoshop fools. She put words to so many emotions I felt this week as that story developed, and I love that she extended herself to all those who were hurt by these images. I always remind myself that, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Melissa: One of the most exciting things that’s happened this week – at least in my eyes – comes from fabulous fat photographer Substantia Jones of the Adipositivity Project. Her usual work focuses on photographing fat people of all shapes, sizes and colors to promote acceptance of the variety of human body sizes, and encourage discussion of body politics. Her stunning photographs (not safe for most workplaces!) depict bodies naked and vulnerable, and also beautiful. Ms. Jones’ latest project, though, entitled “Fat People Flipping You Off“, has her asking self-professed fat people to turn the lens on themselves. The project is aimed as an outlet for people to literally “flip the bird” at societal, institutional, and individual mores and standards that promote fat shaming and fat hatred. I think a lot of us get so angry at these nonsensical “standards” that continue to plague the fat community, so fighting back with a good old-fashioned one finger salute may be just the thing for those moments when we want to say “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!” but find that ranting in the beauty aisle of the local CVS might not be the best way to get your point across. In Jones’ own words: “When words fail, aim it at those who’re immune to logic, reject social justice, or care not about the bigotry of their words and actions.” So get your finger and your camera ready, get good and angry, and submit your photo!
Mandy: I saw an article somewhere about a post on Reddit that was seriously upsetting. A woman posted anonymously that she was told by her boss that she needed to lose 20 lbs to decrease her bust size because she was creating a “sexually tense environment” by “parading around” the office. She was sure she was always dressed appropriately as it was something she had worried about previously being only about 120lbs with a 32DDD Bra size. This just disgusts me. It’s ridiculous that she is being threatened with losing her job for something that is purely beyond her control like weight or shape of body. It’s also really scary to me that this man has no idea how the female body works, let alone a human body!
Fiesty Fox: I am obsessed with USA network’s TV show, “Playing House.” The two stars of it, Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, are best friends in real life which allows for incredible chemistry on-screen. Plus, the writing is so superb that once I was laughing so hard it hurt and I had to force myself to stop watching. Yet, I have to admit that there is one little plot line from their first season that irked me a bit and makes me feels slightly traitorous for watching. Last year Lennon’s character, Maggie, arrives at the hospital and has to deal with an annoying, unprofessional nurse who happens to be fat. I could forgive the casting as anyone can be portrayed as irritating and clueless, but most of what is grating about her is that she cannot stop eating junk food, even if it interferes with her level of professionalism. And, to get a real good laugh, they also threw in a line suggesting that she had to eat a sugary snack to sustain proper blood sugar levels. Really? Could this type of writing be more cheap? I love this show so much, but it still bugs me that the two stars allowed this stereotype to play out in what was their season finale. I do not know one single fat woman who is so focused on food that it causes her to ignore her duties at work in favor of a grabbing a snack. What’s more, insinuating that fat women excuse eating junk food by citing endocrine issues is downright sloppy. All of it adds up to a very cheap way to get some laughs – and throw a whole population of women under the bus. Am I wrong to keep watching it though? I think I keep waiting for a strike 2.
Kairo: Gabourey Sidibe rocked the stage at the #TeenChoiceAwards and honey let me tell you, she has serious skills! I absolutely loved her stage presence! Out of all the goodness that happened in August, did you catch Gabby slaying the Teen Choice Awards’ stage? I totally lived for that moment. She was a nervous wreck, as most people would have been, but she displayed the best thing to ever happen to women: self-confidence. She wore an eye catching wardrobe with some simple kicks and worked that stage. I loved the crowd roaring for her as she busted moves right along with the dancers on stage. Gabourey Sidibe owned that stage that night and me right along with it! #Fattitude #Effyourbeautystandards #PlusMoves #LovedIt #GabbyFan #BigGirlsRock #BlackGirlsRock
SO – WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING – AND HOW DO YOUR FAVORITES GET IT WRONG OR GET IT RIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO DIET CULTURE, FAT PEOPLE AND BODY LOVE????
* This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude intern – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.