Category Archives: fatties

Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts (Boobs, Bellies and Butts)

beautiful woman gets a tattoo

Over the past week or so, a number of things have floated across my path about the objectification of fat bodies.  Whether meant for good or for ill, the objectification of any body is not good.  Whether fat or thin, we are not simply boobs and butts and bellies that happen to be floating around in space.  We are people–whole and complete.

While both fat and thin people suffer from objectification, it seems there are some sorts that are more common for fat people than thin.  One is the “headless fatty syndrome”.  Anybody who has ever read or watched anything about fat people in the news ever has encountered the headless fatty syndrome.

Headless fatty is a term coined by activist Charlotte Cooper which refers to photographs or video of anonymous fat people used in news media stories about obesity. The term was created in 2007 when Cooper first noticed the trend in anxiety-laden news coverage of the Global Obesity Epidemic and the War on Obesity.[1] A “headless fatty” photograph features one or more fat person, usually in a public place and unaware of being photographed, with his or her head cropped out of the image. Cooper argues that this representation of fat people is dehumanizing, decontextualizing, and results in the continued disenfranchisement of fat people.

As Charlotte notes in the above definition, showing a fat person in this way treats them as somehow less than human.  It characterizes them as bellies or butts walking around and not as unique people with needs and wants and talents and personalities.

One of my famous friends also went off on a journalist who recently interviewed her for a piece festooned with decapitated and chubby torsos.  While she admits that the journalist may have not been responsible for choosing these images (often the publisher adds them after the story has been written), she says the journalist should have insisted that respectful images be used.

The reality is that using “headless fatty shots” in the media is currently completely unnecessary.  There are several stock libraries available which include whole fat people doing a variety of amazing things like cycling and dancing and eating vegetables and going to the doctor.  Two notable libraries are available at stockybodies.com or the Rudd Center.

The Rudd Center claims that they created their stock image library after an analysis showed that over 65 percent of overweight/obese adults and over 77 percent of overweight/obese young people were portrayed in a negative light.  Images in both stockybodies and the Rudd Center library may be used by the media free of charge.  So there really is no excuse for using the headless fatty shot.  It costs less than many of the stock images media outlets are already using.  The only reasons for still using these shots are prejudice and/or laziness.

But quite aside from the headless fatty trope, I came across another fascinating video this week (CAUTION NSFW):

This video is interesting to me for so many reasons.  First of all, I want to give a shout out to button poetry.  They are posting some righteously awesome stuff.  And a shout out to Samantha Peterson, one amazingly talented woman.  But this poem really made me think of how we so often use inanimate objects as references for a large woman’s body.  How we talk about the landscape and the rolling hills of her.  And the problematic nature of so many of the euphemisms we use to talk about fat women.  What does curvy mean?  Does it refer only to model bodies that are amped up hourglasses with nipped in waists and swelling hips?  Are bodies only curvy if they come with large breasts?  Do curvy bodies include round tummies and flattish bums?  And really, aren’t all bodies curvy in some places?  What is the definition of pleasingly plump?  Who is is pleased?  How do we know?  And who the heck really understands what zaftig really means?  And don’t even get me started on how the comments section of virtually any of my carefully moderated social media outlets define me as an animal–rhino, hippo, elephant, land whale.

In the end, I think it all comes down to seeing fat people as people.  We have to move beyond our deconstruction.  We must insist that we are seen as more than a collection of boobs and bellies and butts and seen in our rich, beautiful, sophisticated, personal entirety.  We must be allowed to inhabit the media and the world in all of our glorious, individual richness.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Don’t forget about the Fat Activism Conference coming up soon. Click here to register for the Fat Activism Conference!

P.P.S.  Get access to free stuff!  Join my mailing list HERE.

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Spring Cleaning: Wiping out Negative Body Talk

Let's do some "spring cleaning"!

In honor of spring, I’m initiating a little spring cleaning.  But instead of cleaning closets and windows and cars, this year I’m going to try clean up some of my habits, and assumptions and attitudes.  When cleaning closets or the garage, I’m pretty brutal about tossing out things that I no longer need or want.  So this year, I’m going to throw away a few habits and attitudes that just aren’t working for me any more.  I’m going to pull out the big trash can, and I’m going to start with negative body talk.

Does this sound familiar?

“I hate my thighs!”

“Does my butt look big in this?”

“I can’t believe she’s wearing that.”

“Why can’t I have hair like hers?  Mine is too flat.”

Yup, those phrases represent negative body talk–those little phrases we say inside our heads or share with friends in conversation that put down that most magnificent and beautiful and personal gift, our bodies.  Negative body talk is everywhere.  Our friends do it.  Our families do it.  And most of us do it from time to time.

So what’s wrong with it?  Plenty.  Negative body talk has an immediately detrimental effect on our physical and mental health.  A recent article highlights some studies that indicate that “fat talk predicts changes in depression, body satisfaction, and perceived pressure to be thin across time.”  According to one study, the more fat talk a person talked, the worse they felt–resulting in lower body satisfaction and increased depression after 3 weeks.

Negative body talk is bad for us, and it’s everywhere.  So why do we do it?  I imagine sometimes it’s to fit in and sometimes it’s because we feel bad.  But a lot of times, I think we do it because we don’t even recognize we’re doing it.  You see, negative body talk can be kind of sneaky.  Sure, we recognize a phrase like “I hate my butt” as negative body talk.  But negative body talk can also be much more subtle:

“I’m exercising so I can tone up and look good in a swimsuit.”

“I can show my arms because they look okay, but not my thighs.”

“That dress just doesn’t look good on certain body types.”

“I don’t need to look like a supermodel.  I just want to look good in shorts.”

This kind of negative body talk can be harder to recognize, but it’s negative body talk all the same.  It’s still damaging.  It’s something that “doesn’t work for me any more.”  And this spring I’m working to throw it all out.

So my little chicklettes, how about you?  Ready for some spring cleaning?  Let’s get out some big cardboard boxes and the super big industrial-sized trash bags and get ready to clean house!

Love,

The Fat Chick

The Power of Identification

Out on the town with friends Ragen, Julianne and Rose

Stay tuned for a super special new project announcement at the conclusion of this blog post.  Thank you!

I remember when I was very first starting to accept my body.  When I was what size acceptance folks lovingly refer to as a “baby fat”.  Somebody who is new to the notion that beauty and health happen at all sizes.  I had read some statistics that indicate that fat is not a death sentence, and that helped.  But something was missing.  Then I went to my first NAAFA convention and a whole lot of things changed in a hurry.  The reason was simple.  It’s one thing to talk about size acceptance.  It’s a whole other thing to be in a hotel with several hundred other fat people who are dancing, romancing, swimming, singing, exercising, sharing and generally having a heck of a good time.  I honestly never believed that health and happiness were possible at every size until I saw it, on a grand scale with my own eyes.  Finally I had found a group with which I could identify.

This is what is so very dangerous and damaging about fat hatred and fat bigotry.  We shame fat people into believing that they are dangerously other.  Like Frankenstein’s monster, we fat folk are another species, incapable of blending with society.  It’s bad enough when we do this to adults.  But it is especially damaging when we do this to children who may not be mature or sophisticated enough to understand that being shunned is a failing of the hater not the hated.  And we do this to children who may be in a somewhat sheltered environment, where they may feel they are the only fat kid in the class or even the whole town.

That is one of the reasons why groups like NAAFA and ASDAH are so very important.  I’m proud of my role as Vice President on the ASDAH board and for the work I’m doing with NAAFA-LA.  And I am deeply grateful that I have my amazing colleagues with whom I may work, dream and share.  And this is why the work that Marilyn Wann is doing with the “I STAND against weight bullying” project and Ragen Chastain is doing with the Support All Kids project is so important.  Imagine the impact that hundreds and hundreds of size positive people and messages can have on a child who feels isolated and alone.  What would it mean to a child to look up and see a billboard in their town depicting kids who look like them, and are healthy, happy and comfortable in their own skin.  You don’t have to just imagine it.  We are very close to realizing it.  We need just over 200 people to donate to the Stand 4 Every Body project in order to unlock an amazing $5000 challenge grant from More of Me to Love.  Today is ask a friend day.  Ask a friend to donate just $1 to make this dream a reality for kids of size in Georgia.

And here’s the super cool announcement I promised at the opening of this post.  Along with my super cool friends Ragen Chastain and Jayne Williams, I will be launching a new social web space called the Fit Fatties Forum on March 3.  This will be an amazing space where athletes of all sizes can gather, encourage one another, share photos, triumphs and war stories and learn from one another.  The “Ask a Fit Fatty” section will allow you to get answers to all your burning fitness questions.  And perhaps most importantly, we’re creating a space where you can identify with other fathletes.  You may be the only fat aerobics instructor at the club, or fat runner in the 5K or fat scuba diver on the boat.  But my dear Chicklette, you are not alone–never alone.  Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

Love,
The Fat Chick