Thursday, September 30, 2010

oh, 50

50 Cent (who recently eloquently expressed himself regarding the pleasures and hazards of intimacy with large women) twittered again more recently about about re-gaining weight after losing over fifty pounds to play a cancer patient in a movie: "I'm going to the gym...I feel like a fat boy I'm so use[d] to training. When I take a few days of[f] I start thinking I'm a blimp." It feels kind of stupid to comment on celebrity tweets (because it is), but I don't know, I had a twitch of something or other reading his comment. That's how disordered eating starts, you know? It was a very clear little look at how basic fiddling with eating begins a tension/creates momentum that most people don't leave for their lifetime. Most men don't engage with it in to the same degree as women, so sometimes you can see it more sharply when they talk about it. Anyhow, yoiks. Not hopping on this in any ghoulish Cassandra-like way, just noting.

Full Beauty Project (NSFW)

Photographer Yossi Loloi has been photographing large women for his Full Beauty Project for a while (I met him in Massachusetts a couple years ago, I think). He says:
What larger women embody to me is simply another form of beauty. I believe we have 'freedom of taste' and we should not be ashamed of expressing what we really like. Limiting this freedom is like living in a dictatorship of esthetics.

I believe there are other ways to perceive beauty, it is not measurable and has not got a standard size.I photograph my models nude and often indifferent, to create a comfortable, proud and constructive representation of themselves in front of the viewer.
Check out the site!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


There is a lip gloss by Purple Lab called "Huge Lips, Skinny Hips." It comes in eight colors, including No Panty Lines, Kitty Pole Dancer and Love Your Thighs. Hence the wth (here it comes): Wth?  Blech.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

leapy! no--stridey

starving a "fat" infant

This news is upsetting to read, and extreme in its particulars, but still feels connected to the screwed-up world in which we live. It almost makes sense, in a horrible, heartbreaking way. It doesn't--it's not sane--but it isn't happening in a vacuum.

It is the latest development in the ongoing story of a couple in Seattle, Brittainy and Samuel Labberton. Brittainy starved her children from birth, basically, and continued starving them in response to interference from hospitals and child welfare, who ended up taking them away from her. She did all this with her husband's approval, terrified they would get fat (her husband has a "weight problem"). She saw regular developmental weight gain as bad and would not feed them, sometimes barely for days. She gave her youngest daughter--five months old at the time--a bottle with laxative in it to make her lose weight after a visit when the child had been in foster care and recovered a bit. When she was told of the child's recovery in hospital she apparently complained, "Oh my God she's fat" and "I have a fat baby," insisting that the girl "should be under the 50th percentile in weight, not over it." Her oldest child apparently arrived at a foster home "'ravenously hungry,' eating so fast that she nearly choked on her food."

Most recently, the couple's sentencing for child mistreatment charges was suspended because Brittainy was about to give birth to their third child (she has said she wants to have 12). She herself, who suffered from severe suicidal post-partum depression and what sounds like very disordered eating, was admitted to the hospital over the summer, where she "failed to eat enough to provide good nutrition" for the unborn child.

It is incensing to even ponder what's happening inside these young, young children, who are being chemically trained to have an insane relationship with food and with physical survival--that is, assuming they survive (the Labbertons are working to regain custody), and there is certainly no guarantee they will. The court took custody of the couple's second child after Brittainy said she felt she would kill herself and the child; this kind of feeding-related abuse, while "about" fear of fat, is also good way to kill them.

All the body dysmorphia this woman is visiting upon her children--brutally pushing a skewed adult beauty ideal onto tiny infants, unable to see them as people in their own right--feels like a worst example, but not only example, of how people can treat children, especially girls. I am not trying to say that any sane person would starve their children in this way, but it has been shown that people do not (for instance)--all variables aside--feed girl and boy babies the same. And it makes macabre sense that someone could land obsessively on the difference--the conflict--between the image of a what we think of as a healthy baby--chubby, fat-wristed--and a healthy--thin--adult, and try to reconcile the two in this horrible way, at their children's expense. I mean, we are terrified our kids will be fat; why wouldn't it start with babyhood? Well-meaning, well-informed people do bad things to kids in the name of this fear all the time.

I hope this story has any kind of good resolution to it, somehow. It's probably ghoulish to focus on it, but it feels not unrelated to the world in which parents of fat children are vilified and the agonies of size begin earlier and earlier.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

photo Tuesday - Wilhelmine von Sylt!

It took me a while to figure out what this image was--I've seen it often with no identification attached--but it turns out it's a fountain in Westerland, the northern-most town on Sylt, itself the northern-most island off of Germany, in the Frisian Islands. Wilhelmine von Sylt--Wilhelmina from Sylt. The sculpture was created in 1980 by a local artist Ursula Hensel-Krüger (now deceased, I think) and is something of a central landmark in the tourist town. I don't know why she's wearing a hat, but I think she's hella cute. The artist said at Wilhelmine's unveiling:
Let us take a look around. How terribly serious we all are, how closed and embittered are our faces. I would like to give people their joy back. This round, buxom creature, who is at one with herself and with everything, smiles at you. Smile with her, you should, and you can!

thanks to HB for help with the translation! Oh, doth my German decay...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dawn fan here!

Dawn French apparently popped out of a cake for the 250th episode of Later With Jools Holland. We can't see the video in the US, though. Wah! Wooboo!

Dawn has also recently started doing promotion for her first novel, called A Tiny Bit Marvellous [British spelling there], which will be published next month (October 2010). I never hold out high hopes for actor-fiction, but I sure like the cover! (click to see larger image)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

coalition of WTF

The motto of COAK--the Coalition of Angry Kids--is "There is no childhood obesity epidemic."

On their front page is the following:

Who are you calling obese?

We heard that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

And people are saying that 1 in 3 of us are overweight or obese. They even use that weird word--EPIDEMIC--when they’re talking about us kids.

"Eat healthy." "Go run around outside." "Turn off the screens." We hear those things a lot, too. Well, Mom and Dad, can you help us out here? We need more than reminders and threats. We need good examples.

We’re in this together, so let’s fix it together.

If you want us to eat less junk food, then let’s eat better together. If you want us to play an hour a day, then come out and play with us.

That sounds like a healthy solution to us. How about you?
Except--of course--COAK isn't actually a coalition or independent organization of any kind, it's a marketing strategy from Anytime Fitness to get people signed up to their gym. Note the fake little kid handwriting of the logo and the drawing of the family.

Here is the company's reasoning behind their campaign: "Too much blame is being placed on the kids," says Chuck Runyon, Anytime Fitness CEO. "Adults need to step up and be better role models if we want our kids to be healthy. That’s what this is all about."

Note also (this is my point) that there are some news sites reporting COAK as real news: "Coalition of Angry Kids send a strong message to parents"! Lllllllllllame.

The Biggest Web User has announced a new "Go Daddy Girl" to "target fat internet users": Jillian Michaels of the Biggest Loser and you know...whatever it is she does. Here's how the company is positioning it. CEO Bob Parsons, who calls Michaels "smokin' hot," said:
He suspects most of his company's customers are overweight, as are most Americans, who he said make up 82 percent of the world's Internet users.
"They will recognize Jillian and they'll be charged up by her," said Parsons, 59, who said that he and his wife came upon the idea while watching TV. "My days of being a fat guy are numbered."
The thing that strikes me--after imagining how much worse the already pushy/chaotic GoDaddy front page graphics will become--is how disingenuous this sounds. Usually the trade-off with sponsorship seems a little cleaner: you sell your endorsement/spokesperson-ship for--money--but also for your own increased recognition in return. In this instance there is somehow a sense of Doing Good in it that needles.

This is commerce. It is a way for her to sell more of her product, which appears to be your part of the losing/gaining pie. Commerce. But it's flavored a bit as something else, due to some kind of unspoken assumption that we all are already engaged in the Must Lose battle.

"They will recognize Jillian and they'll be charged up by her." The move seems ultimately quite naked about leveraging our nation's obsession with weight. Ameliorate your market position, continue the drama--it never ends, lots of dough.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

holy %#@$^#&

Glenn Beck feels (this appears to have been from his yesterday's show--9/14/10) that government efforts to fight fat--Michelle Obama's program fighting childhood obesity--are interfering fluffery done for its own interests. Not a huge surprise. As he says: "Get your damn hands off my fries, lady." Or: "The new fat" [his term] = "government health care."

Here's where he takes that idea, though (wow):
You know those fat people sitting on their couches? And I mean really fat. I mean...not like me. I mean the people whose skin grows into the couch... I say let them die. I say punish the person who’s been bringing them the milk shakes that allowed them to eat and not get up off the couch. Am I too harsh?
The lack of logic + the hate is breathtaking. I also think that a big clue about why we can't talk well about fat in this country is in the "not like me" aside, which Beck delivered with the standard self-hating I'm-fat shrug. Regardless--my jaw's still on the ground at the moment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

in the best places they say "one is stout"

"I Don't Want to Get Thin" - Sophie Tucker
Almost every day I hear some kind friend say
Sophie, dear, I think you're much too stout
Right away they suggest the diet they think best
They make me sick, I wish they'd cut it out
I don't want to get thin
I don't want to get thin
Why should I? When I'm alright as I am

Those slender-waisted mamas, they make me laugh
My goodness, men like to see a little fore and aft

I don't want to reduce--furthermore, what's the use
When the men follow me around like Mary's lamb

The girls who talk of dieting, gee, they get on my nerves
If you want to keep your husband straight, show him a lot of curves

I don't want to get thin
You can laugh and you can grin
But I'm doing very well the way I am

I'm satisfied to be the way I am
I've got a lot of what I've got and my friends love it
Mind you, they're no vegetarians--they like their meat and plenty of it

I've noticed one thing, girls, you can store this in your dome
All the married men who run after me have skinny wives at home

- You'll have to be much thinner to attract the young sheiks!

Don't worry, I'm doing all right with the Spaniards and the Greeks

I don't want to lose weight
The boys tell me I'm great
And my sweetheart loves me just the way I am

I have no fear that he'll go chasing round with other mamas
He may find one who will fill my shoes, but not my pajamas

I don't care what I weigh
I eat pie every day
I hate pineapples and I don't care for lamb

I'll tell you very frankly I weigh one sixty-three
But many a sonny boy has tried to climb upon my knee

I don't want to get thin
You can laugh and you can grin
But I'm doing very well the way I am

photo Tuesday - NSFW

Today it's Jan Saudek. So much to like.

I can't decide...

...what to call this doctoral thesis I'm working on about Henrietta "Mama" Bazoom for the Österreichischen Institut für Showgirlsforschung. So far I'm toying with:
- A Jolly Mme Defarge: Mama's Role as Observer of Vegas Venality
- "A Useless Piece of Skin": Neo Hyper-Feminist Thinking in Showgirls
- Mama's Headlights as Semaphore in Narrative Mores
- Verhoeven and The Vaudeville Tradition: Toward a New Bazoom
- But Her Name Is Henrietta: Nomi Mama and Much More
- I Have the Mic: Mama Speaks
- Windowshade: Fat Breasts Hide (and Seek)

persistent organic pollutants and long-term weight loss

Study results released recently show that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are "significantly" higher in people who had lost weight, and more so the more weight lost/longer it was kept off. As far as what that might mean, "Researchers say the findings may help explain why some studies have suggested, though not proven, that the risk of heart disease, dementia, or death may sometimes increase after weight loss." Moralizing context of every kind aside, it is very interesting straight-up data about what weight change actually does to the human body, something we still need more information about. Change being the operative word here. There is a huge pressure to change, to always be changing, with regard to weight and size, for almost everyone, ultimately. Do we even know what that means?

Just about every version of this story began with a lede like this: "There may actually be an unhealthy downside to losing weight" (WebMD); "Can making pounds melt away actually pose some health risks?" (Washington Post); "Losing weight may actually harm your health, claim Korean researchers" (ABC News). We know weight loss, especially rapid weight loss, brings its own risks, but the health media pushes everything to one side or the other with sudden memory loss when it comes to stories about weight, so committed are they to the idea that one is bad and the other good. The AOL news take on the study is floundering and sweaty, demonstrably grappling with how to report this seemingly "contradictory" news: "But before you order the fettuccine carbonara for lunch, hold on . . . " Blah blah. Why so much agenda? Just let facts be facts here.

The report makes me feel bad for us humans, struggling along in our messed-up industrial world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fat Liberation

Judy Freespirit has died, and now seems as good time as any to reprint the Fat Liberation Manifesto. It is an interesting thing to read in 2010, almost (unbelievably) 40 years later. R.I.P.


1. WE believe that fat people are fully entitled to human respect and recognition.

2. WE are angry at mistreatment by commercial and sexist interests. These have exploited our bodies as objects of ridicule, thereby creating an immensely profitable market selling the false promise of avoidance of, or relief from, that ridicule.

3. WE see our struggle as allied with the struggles of other oppreressed groups against classism, racism, sexism, ageism, financial exploitation, imperialism and the like.

4. WE demand equal rights for fat people in all aspects of life, as promised in the Constitution of the United States. We demand equal access to goods and services in the public domain, and an end to discrimination against us in the areas of employment, education, public facilities and health services.

5. WE single out as our special enemies the so-called "reducing" industries. These include diet clubs, reducing salons, fat farms, diet doctors, diet books, diet foods and food supplements, surgical procedures, appetite suppressants, drugs and gadgetry such as wraps and "reducing machines".

WE demand that they take responsibility for their false claims, acknowledge that their products are harmful to the public health, and publish long-term studies proving any statistical efficacy of their products. We make this demand knowing that over 99% of all weight loss programs, when evaluated over a five-year period, fail utterly, and also knowing the extreme proven harmfulness of frequent large changes in weight.

6. WE repudiate the mystified "science" which falsely claims that we are unfit. It has both caused and upheld discrimination against us, in collusion with the financial interests of insurance companies, the fashion and garment industries, reducing industries, the food and drug industries, and the medical and psychiatric establishment.

7. WE refuse to be subjugated to the interests of our enemies. We fully intend to reclaim power over our bodies and our lives. We commit ourselves to pursue these goals together.


By Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran
November, 1973

Originally Published by the Fat Underground,
Los Angeles, California USA


This is the new SkyRider seat. There is 23" between you and the row of seats in front of you. The manufacturer says:
For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours
. . . this would be comfortable seating.
The seat . . . is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel
comfortable in the saddle.
A rep for the FAA says, "While it's not impossible, it's difficult to conceive of a standing seat that would be able to meet all applicable FAA requirements and still be cost-effective." So this probably won't end up in low-cost carriers, which are apparently even looking into letting passengers stand during short flights, but who knows.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Fat Girls As Useful Life Accessories"

The Society Pages/Jezebel calls out this Mentos ad (click for larger image), which has the caption: "I love hanging out with you. All the boys keep looking at me."

It's part of an ad campaign for Mini Mentos with the tag line "Mentos Single Pack / Selfishness Without Guilt." Here are two other ads from the campaign I found (click to see larger images):

"I just got fired."
"Can I keep your stapler?")

"He's not worth crying for. Do you want to sleep at my place?"

So that is the context for these ads: a campaign that winks at bad--selfish--human behavior with cute(sy), Gorey-lite illustrations. The top one sure is weird, as well as even meaner, when you look at all the ads; the fat girl is like a toy doll--she's tiny and freakish (and voiceless) as well as shaped like an umbrella. I think what bothers me most of all is the casual assumption of sameness here: that we all could/would/do behave like this, and the way, as Lauren McGuire writes, that the drawing "makes fat and skinny people seem like members of different species." The only people given voice are thin. Always with the Other.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Serve Up a Wire Story (or: Meat Keeps the Heat)

Watching health-related wire stories surface, in all their repackaged, stock photo-ed, frosted with crazy headlines glory, is always interesting.

This time the news is a study that showed fat men are able to maintain erections longer during intercourse than thin men; an average of 7.3 minutes versus 1.8 minutes, due to increased levels of the hormone estradiol.

Pick a photo: (headless) fat man fondling own belly; fat man lying in bed, fat man eating (the fuck?); (headless) fat man with belly fondled by other; or thin men in bed with women, all heads attached (??).

Pick a headline:
Fat Men Enjoy Longer Lasting Sex
Chubby Chaps 'Better in Bed'
Fat Men Capable of Making Love for Longer Duration, Claims Study
Bulky Lovers Make Better Love--Study
Women Should Look to Larger Lovers for a Bit of Nookie
(That last one is from a site that claims to be the "leader in extramarital dating since 1995"...not linking it.)

Decide how to convey the news (while, note, admitting naught but heterosexuality and assuming that female sexual satisfaction revolves, planet-like, around only The Unit). Posit a norm, anticipate our surprise at the news, shape data to the most confusing black and white, draw conclusions about what we're supposed to "do," and let it stand until the next study comes along to be misinterpreted:
"It may come as a surprise to many women, but chubby chaps can actually make love for longer, says a new study. . . the lardy lovers' secret lies in their spare tyre and the other rolls of fat, which affect the balance of their hormones."
"In a new and surprising revelation, fat men last longer in bed. Women will certainly surprised by this new scientific study which found that fat men could be best during sex."

"Women may swoon over six pack gym jocks, but disbelievingly they might opt for 'fatter men' than fitter ones when it comes to fulfilling the act in bed, claims a new study . . . The fatty men may be heaving a sigh of relief, but the fitter ones are not ready to accept the research."
(Okay--most--although not all--of these news sources aren't particularly reputable, and this is all stupid easy shootin, but all the uninformed interpretation is scarier, yet much the same, as stories spread across more solid news sources. Such as the recent widespread wire story about people "not knowing" they are fat, using BMI as the determiner, but not including even widely accepted criticisms of this very imperfect measuring tool. For that we get fear-bating headlines like: Fat and Unaware; Americans Blind to the Obesity Epidemic; Many Fat People Don't Realize They Are Fat; Obese Don't See Themselves as Obese.)

Blah blah. Misinterpreting study results of any kind at all is a revered art, but the inability to let information stand on its own reaches high pitch around fat + health + sex.

photo Tuesday

Here, a few links to and samples of work from New Orleans-based photographer Saddi Khali, whose name I see more and more often. From his vision statement:
Black people need 2 see images of ourselves w/ humanity. women beautiful regardless of size, shape or complexion. men strong, sensitive & loving. parents & children caring & happy. couples in love in warm intimate moments. us as lovers, sensual & sexy but not nasty even when we’re nasty. this is not 2 say that other folks don’t need 2 see themselves in certain ways. but, i don’t know those ways.

This link is to a (Not-entirely-SFW) Facebook gallery of his work.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dear Airlines, You Suck

I've blogged about this before quite a bit, but I want to note again that in practice the Great Travel Compromise--paying for two seats as a passenger of size--sucks. It sucks. If you don't have unlimited funds, you are fucked.

I have been wrestling with travel plans for a trip to a city about 16 hours away by car (I don't have one). Looking at buses, trains, and planes, I have the following options, ranked in order of least desirable (5) to most (1), where X = a certain amount of travel money:
5. two-day bus ride with night sleeping in Penn Station (one seat) (1/2 X)
4. two-day train ride with night sleeping in Penn Station (one seat) (1/2 X)
3. flights to "nearby" cities with (coming) five-hr drive and (going) one-day drive/overnight stay added (two seats) (X)
2. flight to location (one seat) (X)
1. flight to location (two seats) (2 X)
Which leaves the winner:
3. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
--two seats on Southwest, with an additional 30 hours of travel added, available only (note) due to the generosity of a friend.

There is an airline (options 1 and 2) that flies directly to the city in question, which you would think--option 2, I mean--would be the best, but if there are no empty seats to put next to my seat assignment (on a smaller plane than normal), I will be required to buy an additional seat and/or be bumped. A chance on which I cannot afford to gamble. If I had the funds (well over $1,000) I could avail myself of option 1 outright. (Note: I called this airline to tell them they were losing my travel dollars.)

So Southwest it is. I would prefer at this point (kevinsmith) to not fly them just to make a point, but I am forced to accept the situation. As ever. I am gambling on getting my money back from my second seat, money which is out of my pocket and in Southwest's for the month regardless. This will happen if there are any empty seats/seats occupied by airlines staff, but I cannot count on it.

I feel squozed. I am squozed.

If I were feeling riskier I might actually try option 2--which would make sense, yes--flying to where you are going? omgnoway--and hope that there was room for me, but I am not willing to risk the safety and comfort of myself and other passengers, nor the potential hassle and humiliation for myself.

So I pay for my size with thirty travel hours. 30 hours or two times as many travel dollars.

As a large person, I accept the travel compromise--barely. Fitfully. I understand that I am lucky to even grapple with the problem. But I feel that it's important to illuminate what the dilemma looks like in situ. It sucks.