Wednesday, May 5, 2010

blogs of size

I agonized quite a while over what to name this blog.

My other blog was named on a whim, and I still regret it, inasmuch as saying the name out loud makes me squirm: it's pretentious, I don't really know how to pronounce it correctly, and I usually mumble it like an embarrassed teenager, less and less coherently (invariably people don't hear it on the first pass) when people ask me what it's called. It's not catchy at all, except to call it "tha ki-YAY" sometimes. I like it well enough in print, but that's different. All this I hoped to avoid here.

I also wanted to avoid the absolute sea of puns that exist for fat clothing stores and fat social groups and dating sites: More to Love, Big [Whatever]s, Large and in Charge, etc. Any good or thought-provoking punnery in amongst the cheese (and there's a lot) there has long since been exhausted, and I just didn't feel like those kinds of names would strike the right tone. They are too focused, ultimately, anyhow. I love names like Big Fat Blog, but I didn't want to go that kind of route anymore either.

I ended up with a few runner-ups. After speaking with my friend Hanne, I was seriously pondering two somewhat similar ones:
...the latter being a nod to sociologist Mark Graham's brilliant term. Another contender was something my friend Damian used to say when he wanted to win an argument (I think it's already a blog name):
The winner, though, came from Martha Bayne, tossed off from behind the bar, no less, in a fit of brainstorming while she served drinks. It's still working for me, and I really like the definite article. Let's meet at The Extender, shall we?

Thanks, Martha.

fearful subtext

There's nothing remotely surprising about this article, "How to Not Look Fat in a Swimsuit," but the subtext is so hilarious I found it worth noting. It's awful, but the fear in it is so strong it's funny.

The content is amped-up classic stuff such as: wearing dark on the bottom, drawing the eye up, hiding the tummy...wearing Miraclesuits and even Spanx while swimming. Full-figured women should "try a maxi dress, or a semi-sheer cover-up to give 'the illusion of a flawless figure.' " Disguise the bosom, moisturize the legs to hide cellulite, fake a thinner waist with a belt... "Your tummy needs to be long and lean . . . any little height will make you walk better, stand sexier, put a little spring in your step and make you look a little bit taller and leaner." Gah! Gah! Panicking, fumbling, worried...

Don't let anybody see you as you are. Don't let any part of you which departs from a norm show. Don't be fat, but really, don't look fat. You are entirely vulnerable to the judgments of those around you, and should be. What others think is the most important thing in the world. How you look is everything. The agony of being yourself is unending, and only a few people are good enough to be allowed in a swimsuit just as they are.

I guess the subtext isn't really funny, and this is an obvious feminist rant, and for what it's worth I hate shitty fashion too, but it's all just so tortured. It's absurd.

The point of wearing a swimsuit is to SWIM!! Action verb! Not to be viewed. I mean, at base. Right? Right? she bleats.

Some people might argue that this article is giving people tips for actually getting out there, but I don't think so. Not to mention--yea verily, some people just are fat, and how you're not supposed to not look fat in a bathing suit when you are fat is a question that can only be answered by not swimming or wearing a suit or even existing, and that subtext is tired and in fact not really subtext at all.

The honest, sad, terrible, kinda cool truth is that nobody's paying that much attention to you. Yes, people are horrible and dismissive to fat people (and everybody), but one ass-backward benefit of all this bathing suit angst is that if everyone is so tortured and inwardly-focused, then what do you have to lose by heading out?

[Thanks to Aris for link.]