Tag Archives: beautiful

Searching for Reality among the Dummies

So this week, American Apparel hit the news again with some brand new mannequins.  Apparently they are causing quite a stir because THESE mannequins are sporting prominent nipples and a prodigious crop of pubic hair.  Now some folks have applauded American Apparel for showing women that are more “realistic”.  But I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree.

These mannequins are completely in line with everything else I’ve seen from American Apparel.  It seems that their ads are not only focused on women as sex objects, but I’ve always felt that there was a gritty, DIY Internet porn, especially inelegant focus on women as sex objects.

In any case, I see very little here that makes these mannequins look more like real women.  They are still all the same size and shape.  They are still very tall and impossibly willowy.  They still portray a body that would probably be unlikely to bear children or even menstruate.  Nope.  What I see here is a dirty little boy with a magic marker drawing pictures on his sister’s dollies just to get attention.

And it’s gotten plenty of attention.  Which I am quite sure was the point.  The sad thing is that there are others making a real effort to make mannequins look more like real people.  There was THIS post I did a while back, about a shop in Sweden making more realistic mannequins.  And then there’s this video.  It portrays special mannequins being created from some very unlikely models.  The video is beautiful.  Please watch.  I’ll wait.

I can’t say everything about that video is perfect either.  But I can say that it seems a whole lot closer to the sort of work towards inclusiveness that we need in this space.  I’d love to see a mannequin that shows how clothing looks on a short, modified hourglass with apple shaped tummy body rather than the plus-sized mannequins that are 7 ft. tall  with perfectly flat stomachs.

And how does all of this relate to fitness?  I think so many people go into exercise trying to look like those bodies in the Macy’s store windows.  So many of us have spent years not working at FITNESS (being fit, being able to do certain things that we’d really like to do), but rather working at “FitThis” (being able to fit this pair of jeans, this image, be accepted by this crowd).  And so what?  Is there something wrong with having fitness aspirations for having a “better body”?  The thing is that for most people, physical fitness does not create an overly dramatic shift in the way their body appears.  Only a very small percentage of genetically gifted folks are even physically capable of sporting a visible “six pack” or “eight pack”.  Exercise doesn’t change your body’s bony structure.  It doesn’t make you taller.  And for most of us, it doesn’t make you significantly thinner.  The problem with aspirational “FitThis” is that it takes our attention away from what exercise is very likely to accomplish in our lives (better sleep, better health, better mood, better self esteem, better sex, better sleep…) and focuses our attention on an area where exercise is a lot less likely to succeed.  It sets us up for unrealistic expectations.  It sets us up to fail.


So I’d like to encourage you to put yourself into your elegant, pricey, fitness store, right at the front, behind the huge glassy windows.  See yourself, happy, healthy and feeling fabulous as the epitome of what you are hoping to accomplish.  Because you are amazing.  You are inspiring.  And you are the ones who keep me doing what I do.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want some more amazing real life inspiration?  Check out what we’re doing with the Fit Fatties Virtual Event and Decathlon!  We’ve already had our first decathlete!  And there are some truly amazing pictures including our recent 5K finisher who walked the beach with her son and met Santa (an honorary Fit Fatty), a woman who lifted literally a TON of weight wearing jammy pants and lots more gorgeous happy people.  Sign yourself on up!

The Dubious Power of Pretty

It seems like everywhere I look in the last week or so, I’ve seen more and more stuff about the power of being pretty.  We’d love to deny it.  We’d love to move past it.  But this video interview from Dustin Hoffman, which has gone super viral in the past two days, really brings it home.  In case you haven’t seen it, I’ve attached it here:

There is a lot to take in during this short video clip from Dustin Hoffman. I think many of us feel heartened that a man, any man, gets what it’s like to be ignored because you are not conventionally beautiful.  We are inspired by the fact that he has this epiphany and we are moved by the level to which he is moved.  But for the purposes of this post today, I’d like to concentrate on what Dustin Hoffman says he learned at an “early age” and how he said he was “brainwashed”.

Dustin Hoffman says that although he thought when he was dressed up as a woman for “Tootsie” he was an “interesting woman on screen” but he realized that if he met that character at a party he would have “never talked to that character because she doesn’t meet, physically, the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out.”  He later laments that, “There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”

It’s really interesting to me the way Dustin Hoffman describes so succinctly one of the deep tragedies of living in a society absolutely obsessed with the way that women look. He quickly gets to the heart of how this obsession is a tragedy for all people–both those who are overlooked because they are not conventionally pretty and those who lose the experience of meeting some pretty amazing people–including potential business partners, close friends and even soul mates, because they are brainwashed by the dubious power of pretty.

And I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how this comes to be.  How and when does this brainwashing start?  And in one of those not at all rare cases of serendipity, I’ve also run across a lot of stuff about how girls are socialized at a very early age to understand the dubious power of pretty.

One of these things is of course, Barbie (R).  Much has been written about the impossible dimensions of the  body of Barbie.  We know that in real life, Barbie could barely stand up, would most likely not have a menstrual cycle or be able to produce babies and despite having the outfits for being everything from a doctor to an astronaut would probably find real life pretty taxing for her impossibly willowy and busty body.

Just last week, artist Nickolay Lamm posted some pictures of what Barbie might look like were her proportions more similar to the average woman.  These pictures are a continuation of a larger project/study in which the artist compares the measurements of Barbie with that of average women. The pictures are striking.  And they really make you think about the aspirations and goals we are giving to our young girls.

Now, unless you want to read a whole lot of nonsense from unenlightened, chest beating, non-Dustin Hoffman-like males, I recommend that you save your sanity points and skip the comments.  But in a way, the comments on this post are deeply instructive.  Despite the fact that there are links to research about how Barbie’s image can lead to unhealthy behavior and thought patterns in little girls and young women right in the post, and the fact that these studies are in no way obscured within the post, the comments are full of men commenting about how Barbie is just fine, how stupid feminists are, and whether or not they would “do” either the traditional barbie or the doll modified to look more like real life.  There’s also a fair amount of moralizing about the “obesity epidemic” and a few women who claim to look like the traditional Barbie and don’t see what the problem is.  See?  See how many sanity points I saved you by parsing the comments on your behalf?

So is Barbie(R) part of the brainwashing that Dustin Hoffman was talking about?

And what about the princesses?  There has been a lot written over the years about the influence “princess culture” has on our young girls.  I was super excited to see this video from the folks at GoldieBlox, a small company funded by a Kickstarter campaign which is creating toys encouraging girls to learn engineering skills:

So what is the answer?  We can’t keep our kids in a bubble and keep them from all the toys and media and images in the dominant culture.  But perhaps we can strive to ensure they also have access to toys that encourage them to learn math and science and engineering.  Perhaps we can help boys understand that not all girls look like Barbie and that confining their attention to a very narrow view of acceptable appearance is going to mean that like Dustin Hoffman, they will miss out on meeting many amazing and extraordinary women.  And maybe like this incredibly talented poetry slam champion, we can fight–fight for our children to understand that they are so much more than pretty (NSFW):

As always, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts and experiences!  Record in the comments below.  And remember, if you liked the post, please share it with your friends.  Clicking is caring!


The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)


Book me to speak at your special event!

You Don’t Need to Sell Soap to Be Beautiful!

fatbabeI was so very excited when I came across this in my facebook feed.  Fat positive blogger and artist phenom Rachele AKA The Nearsighted Owl has a project called The Fat Babe project.  All  you do is send in a photo of yourself and a link to your blog, and she will create a fat and fabulous artist’s rendering of your gorgeousness for FREE!  Postcards and greeting cards featuring  your fabulous form are available for modest fee, so you can send your sexiness to your friends and family.

This is just one of a series of opportunities to be the subject of fat positive art.  Of course Substantia Jones has been doing amazing artistic photography of fat subjects for years.  You can see her work at adipositivity.com.  And if you’re ever in or around New York, you can contact her about being the subject of a fat positive photo shoot.

And  of course, there’s the work of Les Toil, who has been creating artsy drawings of fat chicks for many years.  It costs a little bit more but who can argue with the gorgeousness of the work?  And you get a number of prints and a CD featuring YOU in all your splendor.

I think all of this work is important in many ways.  In light of that Dove Viral Video, with the creepy forensic artist sketching the insecurities of conventionally beautiful women in a mood-lit semi-modern loft to super saturated sugary soundtrack, these artist are working to actually expand our body consciousness–unhindered by a need to sell soap.

So hurrah for the size diverse sketch artists and the pulchritudinous painters and the photographers who help the world view bodies through a wide angle lens!  Who knows, you just might see a whole different view of yours truly, very soon!


The Fat Chick

Elephants, Pigs and (land)Whales, Oh my!

ImageSo often, people equate us fat folks with various animals.  We’re compared to a pig or an elephant or a whale (or even the elusive “land whale”).  And usually this comparison is offered as a criticism or as a way to make us feel bad.  But you know what?  Each of those animals is able to do pretty amazing things.  Elephants are large and smart and strong and athletic and beautiful and graceful.  Elephants look great in dresses, are good dancers and can even water ski.  So go ahead and call me an elephant.  Pachyderms are awesome, and they are natural athletes.


And as for pigs, now there are some amazing athletes.  In this ONE VIDEO, you can see a pig who golfs, bowls, plays soccer, jumps hurdles, rides a skateboard, shoots a basket, and pitches a baseball.  And pigs are also smart, independent, sociable and generally awesome!  And as for whales, how many humans do you know who can do this:

Whales are absolutely amazing athletes who can leap and backflip and sing loud enough to be heard for miles.  All in all, whales, pigs and elephants are beautiful, smart, graceful, strong and wonderful creatures.   And land whales?  Since they don’t exist in the real world, I choose to imagine them as awesome too!

The world of nature is full of evidence that creatures can be both large and athletic.  Both big and incredibly graceful.  The only place that fit and fat cannot co-exist is in the minds of certain closed-minded people.  And for that we might want to look at this animal as a reference:


The Fat Chick