How quickly they forget: the revisionist's history of fat-shaming

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Someone recently posted this in a Facebook group I frequent and at first I shrugged it off because I'm just one of those people who happens to think big looks good on both sexes.  But something about the words below just stayed with me, and after a while, I realized they were rubbing me in a really wrong way.

Let me start with the Eldest Sis.  My Eldest Sis once said that she gets very irritated when a fat man hits on her.  She's currently a size four, and let's just say a lot of work went into that, especially when you consider that growing up, our people traditionally preferred fat women (and literally stated it just like that).  Now, when she first made that statement, I genuinely didn't understand what she meant.  I thought it was just an issue of preference.  She then tried to explain it to me thusly: straight of men of all sizes feel entitled to a conventionally beautiful woman.  But the moment a woman expresses a preference for a conventionally beautiful man, she's branded a shallow bitch, a selfish whore...you know the drill.

And while I got that, I still didn't "get it".  Until now.

You know how people in a society - usually scientists, medical professionals, psychologists, sociologists, etc. - will warn a society about certain behaviors that will come back to haunt them, and society overall just ignores them?  This is one of those cases.

The "-isms" will always come back to haunt a society.  Sizeism is a major "-ism" more commonly known as fat-shaming.  In the past and present, sizeism has mainly been inflicted upon women.  And through it all, what a woman wanted/preferred/fantasized about was broadly dismissed as irrelevant.  Her job - our job - has always been to want nothing, need nothing, and to bend over backwards to make men happy.

One of my friends in real life is blogger Miss Kaur; she runs American-Born Confused Sikh.  Miss Kaur recently lost forty pounds.  In my humble opinion, she's always been gorgeous and didn't really need to; she's tall, she wears her weight quite well, and she wasn't having any serious health problems.  But she committed to getting fit, and did so.  She's still not conventionally "skinny," mind you, but those of us who know her can see a visible difference.

Miss Kaur noticed that once she lost the weight, people at her temple had started talking to her again after a long hiatus.  She found that odd, and wondered why'd they drifted away in the first place.  They started mentioning how good she looked now, and how happy they were for her now, leading Miss Kaur to realize folks had stopped talking to her right around the time she'd started gaining weight.  These weren't even potential romantic partners, mind you; these were just regular old "aunties" and "uncles" who found apparently her weight gain so unseemly that they didn't want to talk to her.

Silver Tiger, who blogs with me over at the Blasian Narrative, often talks about the beauty standards in South Korea, and the crazy starvation diets her coworkers will go on to get and stay skinny (like living off black grapes alone).  And then, of course, there's Korea's infamous obsession with plastic surgery.  And by "obsession", I mean the school staff where Silver Tiger works actually pass out plastic surgery brochures to middle school-aged kids at the end of the year.

And then there's my current day job.  I am surrounded by the most organic salad-and-cardio obsessed people I have ever met in my life.  They offer exercise classes during lunch, and weight loss challenges with money incentives.  And don't get me wrong: I like the idea of a workplace promoting healthy living, but this stopped being about "health" a long time ago.  It's become about getting thin.

Where am I going with all these anecdotes?

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The couple on the left has absolutely nothing in common with the couple on the right.  On the right, we have a couple which, in real life, raises eyebrows and "questions".  People want to know what the slender guy could possibly see in the fat girl, and assume he's just probably using her in some way.  If they should insist they are in love, people will want to berate her for being "disgusting" while branding him an "enabler" for not health trolling her hard enough.  But on the left, we have a socially accepted scenario that's been crammed down our throats for thousands of years.

Quick show of hands: how many times did we see James Gandolfini - may he rest in peace - bang a bitch who was 1/6 his size on The Sopranos?  How times were we told "it's different" when we pointed that out?  Ladies, how many times have you been accused of being shallow for stating you want a slimmer, younger, more muscular man?  And when you pointed out that men idolize younger, slimmer women, how many times were you told they were "just being men"?  Or the episode of King of Queens when friggin' Kevin James's character had the gall to condescendingly health troll his wife (Leah Remini) about gaining a few pounds?

Seriously.
How quickly they fucking forget!

The "-isms" always come back to haunt a society.  Men are starting to feel the pressure now, make no mistake; that's what memes like these are really about.



Women who work their asses off to lose weight (for cosmetic reasons, mind you) are now more likely to only want a man who's willing to do the same - and I applaud them.  This newfound tendency to be more outspoken about this preference is a direct result of men hounding women about our looks for millennia.  I finally understand why my Eldest Sis gets so irritated when unpolished, overweight men hit on her: she literally spent years and thousands of dollars investing in her appearance, and now every man she comes across automatically assumes he's worthy just because he finds her attractive.

Yeah...women can't do that.  We don't do that.  Men want to know why women don't talk to you as much as you talk to us?  'Cause we fucking know better!  We know we can't just roll up to every guy who reminds us of Rick Yune, Mikael Daez, Aljur Abrenica, or Avan Jogia, and just holla at them.  How come no one ever brings up this particular double standard?

Look, society can't have it both ways.  If you're going to tell women they need to "look a certain way", you can't get mad if they only want to date people who also "look a certain way" - period.  The gods forbid people love who they are, and be loved for who they are. When I look back up at the couple on the left, I do see a man in love with his own ego, feeling gratified that he's finally got the woman he deserves.  He either doesn't know/care what his woman has to do to maintain that size, or he knows fully well and, if he's wealthy, is probably paying for her to maintain it - by any means necessary.

But the couple on the right is revolutionary because it's two people in love with that woman's body just the way it is.  And if he's not pressuring her, odds are, she ain't pressuring him either.  He could bloat tomorrow and she'd still most likely love him.

*sniff* 'Cause that's generally how we roll.

See Also

5 Reasons Why Curvy Women Make the Best Lovers
Why are women the fatter sex?

Comments

  1. Or the episode of King of Queens when friggin' Kevin James's character had the gall to condescendingly health troll his wife (Leah Remini) about gaining a few pounds?

    I thought that episode very strange, not so much in his drive to get Carrie to lose weight (while being blind to his own obesity), I expect that of white men: but in the fact that his black friend Deacon, complained that his wife’s butt was too big. Really? Only a white writer would pen something like that. Frankly (and this is the truth) I didn’t even notice Leah Remini until she put on about 50 pounds or so, then I couldn’t get enough of the show.

    This double standard has always rubbed me the wrong way. If a woman is a size 4 and fit, then good for her, but not everyone’s cut out to be thin (Oprah knows this better than most). Furthermore, a thin, fit woman has every right to expect the same physical assets in a partner. Nevertheless, white men have absolutes: they don’t have gray areas when it comes to weight, you’re either fat or you’re not.

    Look, society can't have it both ways.

    Ahh but 200 years of privilege says it can. Much like the culture in Mad Men a certain segment of society believes it can dictate beauty as they see fit. But alas, white women are getting fatter not thinner: no longer adhering to those rigid standards they’ve begun speaking out. I see the trends reversing (in part due to a Culture of Color, bolstered by Immigration) where we celebrate thick, natural-looking women for who they are. As the white man becomes more irrelevant, so does his hold on cultural norms (and those absurd fantasies).

    When I look back up at the couple on the left, I do see a man in love with his own ego, feeling gratified that he's finally got the woman he deserves.
    Sounds a lot like that guy from Reddit....

    But the couple on the right is revolutionary because it's two people in love with that woman's body just the way it is. And if he's not pressuring her, odds are, she ain't pressuring him either. He could bloat tomorrow and she'd still most likely love him.

    Exactly!!! Very well said.
    Mind you my wife is the only one complaining about her weight gain. I simply smile…

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    1. I'm so glad someone else knew what episode I was referencing. The brazen writing has stayed with me for years. And the Deacon part....

      Frankly (and this is the truth) I didn’t even notice Leah Remini until she put on about 50 pounds or so

      Right there with you.

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    2. "I'm so glad someone else knew what episode I was referencing. The brazen writing has stayed with me for years. And the Deacon part...."

      Deacon's comment assumes we people of color were right with them (white writers) on the big butt issue. Merrin Dungey (who plays Kelly Palmer) is fine, no two ways about it. Still, this One Standard of Beauty To Rule Them All crap demonstrates just how narrow the show's target demographic is.

      Incidentally, Leah Remini's real-life husband (who plays a physician in the segment) regales her in a fantasy dance number involving Doug’s death. This is when she was at her heaviest by the way. I was so proud of them. He obviously loves every inch of her, and more importantly: she exudes that love.

      King of Queens: Season 6 Episode 16 Damned Yanky: He appears at 16:00

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  2. I like what you've said here

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  3. I don't know Ankh. I know some heavier women who only want someone with like MIchael Jai White. But if these men want them to lose weight its hell to pay. These same women will not give the time of day to a heavy man.

    I have noticed a long time ago though that a fat man won't think twice about approaching a small woman, but it will snow in he** before a heavy woman even THINKS about doing the same.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I know some heavier women who only want someone with like MIchael Jai White. But if these men want them to lose weight its hell to pay. These same women will not give the time of day to a heavy man.

      Slightly different post for a different day.

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  4. Case in point.

    I love how it took woman until college to learn that women are supposed to have stomachs.

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    1. "I love how it took woman until college to learn that women are supposed to have stomachs."

      Good point. The average dress size in these United States of America is a size 14. So the way the white man continuously portrays white women as malnourished babes is propaganda pure and simple. Some media outlets are more guilty than others. Both the Daily Mail and TMZ are notorious for their depictions of thinness: equating gauntness with beauty/femininity.

      Ah, but pay close attention to the reaction this woman gets as she nonchalantly tries to walk past a group of black men. The question is, did she specifically dress like this to get the reaction she got? (Note how she blushes). Or was the weather so sweltering that day, this was simply the coolest thing she could put on. Or, (and I think this option bears scrutiny) does she simply know her audience?

      Granted, if this same woman walked past a group of young white men, I’m sure the reaction would be much- much different. Beauty is in the eyes of the culture, not so much the beholder. Personally, I adore every inch of her (Psst, don’t tell my wife).

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    2. Ah, but pay close attention to the reaction this woman gets as she nonchalantly tries to walk past a group of black men.

      It's always the black men....

      And the comments under the video you linked to bordered on steamy!

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    3. "And the comments under the video you linked to bordered on steamy!"

      I try not to look at the comments on YouTube unless they're talking about Bugs Bunny- High-end audio, or Art. But you're right: these weren't bad (considering the subject matter). YouTube comments tend to go from complimentary, to utterly disgusting in less than a few posts. Still, the look on those young men's faces said it all. Moreover I agree: its always us. Very cute girls by the way.

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