Tag Archives: body image

Jillian Michaels Co-opts Body Love Messaging (This is why we can’t have nice things…)

Body love courtesy of Jillian Michaels.

In an epic moment of facepalm, my facebook feed threw up this little fact:  Jillian Michaels has published her “Top 3 Guidelines for Improving Body Image” at EverydayHealth.com.  (No, I’m not gonna link to that ish.  Nope.)  This seems in line with her recent move to distance herself from Biggest Loser after she made untold millions from screaming at fatties on the show.

Now the irony of Jillian Michaels would be really funny if it weren’t so very sad.  This woman styled her entire career on being the queen of mean.  She came into our living room every week screaming at the fatties–about how ugly we were and how we were killing ourselves.  And some might suggest that Jillian Michaels might be making a genuine change or shift in attitude.  And I might even consider believing her if she started pulling products like her “6-week Six Pack” or her “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” or her “No More Problem Zones” off the shelves.  Nope, no, nopety nope.  You don’t get to give advice like “Be realistic about your body type.” when you are actively marketing a product called “1 Week Shred”.  And you don’t get to advise people to “Stop negative self talk.” while marketing a product called “No More Problem Zones.”

And if that didn’t tickle my sarcasm zones quite enough, this little gem is posted on EveryDayHealth.com with the tagline, “Always choose well.”  Seriously?  You put the queen of scream in charge of body image on your site?  For REALZ?  Is that choosing well?  Look, I’m sorry guys.  Just because Jillian is wearing a nice soft stripy sweater, and you’ve got her on a white set with a soft filter, it doesn’t make her nice.  And it certainly doesn’t make her qualified to talk to women about body image.

But can we talk here?  This is really a bigger issue than the Biggest of the Biggest Loser Meanies trying to change her image.  The real issue is the co-opting of important messaging in the body acceptance movement by people who just see it as the latest way to add market share to their products.  And I think as we go forward, and we start to gain traction, this is likely to become a bigger and bigger issue.

Let me take a moment and disclose some facts about me.  First, I acknowledge that even as “The Fat Chick”, I have an awful lot of privilege.  I’m white, middle class, and heterosexual.  That makes a lot of things in this society a lot easier for me.  Also, in terms of my size, I’m what you might call a mid-size fatty.  I’m certainly “plus-sized”.  But my size and my shape make certain things a lot easier for me than for many other fat people.  I face discrimination, but nowhere near as much or as intensely as many of my brothers and sisters in the movement.  I don’t receive these privileges as a result of anything virtuous I’ve done.  I was born with them.  And thus, while I can sympathize with people of all sizes, I can’t say that my experience is the same as all other fat people.  It just isn’t true.

I also have to admit that, having been in this space for many years, some messages are easier to sell.  Some messages are more palatable for the general public and as such, are more fun to say.  I get a lot more rewards for telling people to love themselves than I get for saying that society is brutalizing entire segments of the population, and that it is not okay and it has to stop.  A lot of people look at my midsized status and nudge me and say, “Well you’re okay, you’re not THAT fat.”  To which I usually respond, “ALL bodies are good bodies.  And people thinner than me are okay and people fatter than me are okay.  You don’t get to decide what sized body is acceptable for the general population.”  I say usually.  Because sometimes I just don’t have the spoons to deal with it and I just walk away.  I am not a persona.  I am not perfect.  I’m just a person.

But I think it’s important going forward to acknowledge that it’s not really okay to co-opt body diversity, size acceptance and body love language just to soften a campaign of ongoing body hatred.  It’s not really okay to call yourself an activist against weight bias or weight stigma if you still adhere to the “fat but not that fat” ideal.  It’s pretty easy to accept that nobody looks like a supermodel.  “Not a supermodel” is a pretty safe position to take.  Only a few of us in the world look like that, and even those few are Photoshopped beyond recognition.  But true work against weight bias and weight stigma includes recognizing that weight stigma and weight bias are institutionalized, rampant and ubiquitous.  It includes recognizing that even if most of us hate our bodies, that stigma and bias are likely to be different at size 12, size 22, and size 32.  And that weight stigma is not allowed once you are beyond a certain size.  Body acceptance is not just loving your body, unless you are, you know, really fat.  Body acceptance is for EVERY BODY.  And this work demands that you accept that you can’t simply solve the problems of weight stigma and weight bias with a poster and a little boost to your self confidence.  Working on your own feelings and confidence are important first steps to coping with weight stigma and weight bias in your own life.  But they are only first steps.  If you really want to fight these problems, you have to move on to finding these oppressions out in the world and making things better–no matter how uncomfortable or unpalatable these messages might be.

And for those of you who want to feel better about your  body, here are three pieces of advice:

1.  Don’t listen to Jillian Michaels.

2.  Don’t listen to Jillian Michaels.

3.  Don’t listen to Jillian Michaels.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hire me to speak about size acceptance, weight bias and weight stigma? CLICK HERE.

Want to join me in making the world a safer place for bodies of ALL sizes?  Click here and join me!

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An announcement plus Stuff that Weighs More than Me: World’s Biggest Chess Piece

IMG_0985Okay, so we have a few things to talk about today.  One is to share with you my latest entry to stuff that weighs more than me.  In the above photo, I am posing next to the world’s largest chess piece.  I encountered it completely by chance in the Central West End of St. Louis today.  I stopped for lunch and there it was, in all it’s geeky glory–a really, really giant chess piece.  I looked at my husband and he grinned as he said, “Do you want a photo for your blog?”  “Heck yeah,” I replied.  “I’m quite sure THAT weighs more than me.”

IMG_0987

Indeed it does.  As the above photo indicates, the chess piece is as tall as a giraffe.  And were it used in an actual game of chess, it would require a chess board measuring over 70 feet per side–large enough to park 12 school buses.  Here’s the stats:

Height: 14ft. 7in.

Width: 6 ft. at the base

Material: 3/4″ plywood

Weight: 2,280 pounds

Conclusion: whether king or pawn, the world’s largest chess piece weighs more than me.

And now for the big announcement!  I’m thrilled to report that this blog was selected as one of the 2014 Top Positive Body Image Blogs and sites by Body Bliss Central!  W00t!  With special thanks to Ragen Chastain for the nomination!

Looking forward to heading for home and sleeping in my very own bed soon!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

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The Unwritten Sports Stat: Female Athletes Must Be Gorgeous

A friend forwarded me a link to an interesting article in the Guardian about how female athletes fear that how they look may outrank how well they perform in terms of their careers as sportswomen.    The article chronicles the results of a major study commissioned by BT Sport.  The study was commissioned after the 2012 Olympics partly in response to Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Adlington’s very public admissions about body insecurity after the games.  The study included over 100 elite female British athletes.

To those of us who study body image questions, it’s probably not that surprising that 89 percent of the athletes polled felt that they could relate to insecurity about body image.  67 percent felt that the public and the media valued their personal physical appearance over their athletic prowess, and over 70 percent said that it affected their diet and training regimes.  Let’s take a moment to ponder here.  We are talking about professional athletes who make their living from the capabilities of their bodies who are making training decisions based at least in part on how they will look in their singlet.  It makes you wonder if their performance might have been even better if they could allow their training and nutrition to be focused exclusively on what pushes their bodies to their best performance.

I have written before about the fact that I love the Olympics with a big old passion.  I have also expressed before, my deep disappointment over how we could spend time skewering the very best Olympic gymnast for the quality of her hairdo, or why we need to make Olympic uniforms look like outfits for cheerleaders.  (Another group of highly trained athletes that are hypersexualized to the point of ridiculousness.)  And don’t even get me started on Olympics advertising that looks like softcore porn.

And we’re not just talking about Olympians here.  Anyone from tennis stars to golfers are expected to look runway perfect these days.  Maybe that’s why I’m so excited about our Fit Fatty Virtual Events this year.  It allows you to complete all kinds of fabulous physical activities wearing what you want, wherever you want and on your terms.  We have had several incredibly inspired entrants who have completed significant tasks wearing pajamas.  We have had entrants complete events and perform community service simultaneously.  We have met Santa Claus on a 5K and performed epic, family-style, living room dance parties with kids of all ages.

Because Ragen and I are crazy enough to believe that physical activities should be about moving your body and having fun.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

Nekkid–the Joys of being Nude.

Volup2

So, a number of things in the universe are conspiring to make me think about the joys of being in the altogether.  There’s my post last Friday about the drama surrounding Lululemon’s $100 yoga pants.  And then there’s the latest issue of Volup2 called naked which has so many wonderful completely NSFW pictures in it, you just can’t even believe it.  I’m warning you, even the cover is NSFW, but here’s a link if you’re interested. There’s even an interview in there with me HERE, but lest I be accused of false advertising, I have to admit that the accompanying photo features me completely clothed.  There are also articles featuring Substantia Jones and Leonard Nemoy so you may want to check it out!

 

There is something so joyful and freeing about being naked.  There’s nothing quite like the delicious thrill that comes from skinny dipping or fatty dipping as Nearsighted Owl calls it.  And unlike $100  yoga pants, being nude doesn’t cost a penny.  (Well unless you’re arrested for indecent exposure–pick your time and place, kids!)  One of the best pieces of advice I heard in learning to accept our bodies is that we just need to spend more time per day with our clothes off.  This is not necessarily about sex.  (Although more sex and better sex can be a consequence of spending more time in your birthday suit.)  This is simply about learning to be more comfortable in the skin you’re in.

The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a super interesting and cool idea.  In fact, I’d like to issue a challenge!  As you know, with all challenges I advocate starting with just a few minutes and moving up from there.  So to start, I’d like to suggest that we all spend 5 minutes per day outside of the bath or shower completely starkers.  You can go to bed naked.  You can do your makeup and dry your hair while naked.  You can vacuum your house or do the dishes naked.  Be creative!

If you’re looking for more (decidedly fully naked and NSFW) inspiration you could check out the most amazing Adipositivity site or the Nu Project or this totally delightful video showing Amanda Palmer’s response to the Daily Mail who decided to spend an entire “review” of her concert talking about her “wardrobe malfunction” rather than her music or her performance.

And as always, I’d love to hear from you.  First of all, do you think The Fat Chick has simply gone off her rocker or do you think this might be a good idea?  Are you already a confirmed at home nudist?  If so, how did you come to be that way.  Are you terrified to even try this experiment?  And if you do try it, I’d love to hear about how it went!  Did you learn something new about yourself?  Did you find yourself feeling more comfortable with the idea of not wearing clothes every minute of the day?  Did you get surprised by the UPS guy at the door?  Hit the comments section and let us know!

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Thursday Theater: The Second Candy Crowley Debate about her Weight

I have to say that Candy Crowley did a pretty good job of being tough in the most recent presidential debate.  And it’s no surprise that some folks are pretty up in arms about the fact that she did her job and told the leader of the free world and the man who is competing for that position to sit down and be quiet at times.  And there is some concern that she added information to the debate when perhaps she should not have.

But most people seem to agree that she did a much better job of managing the dialog between two of the world’s most powerful men than had been seen in the first debate.  So are people on Facebook singing her praises?  Is the Twitterverse glowing with her awesomeness?  Well yes, and then again no.  Because what some people feel the need to talk about right now is Candy Crowley’s weight.

Here’s one post I ran across on Facebook:

Since it’s the 21st Century, why do we even need Moderators? Siri can ask the questions, refrain from interrupting, and 5 seconds after the red timer light goes on, cut off the speaker’s mike. Also, we can save the Rain Forest from devastation by not having to raise all the beef cattle necessary to feed Sliders in the hospitality tent to Candy Crowley.

 

I found this truly offensive, so I said “This is offensive”.  Here’s the response I got:

LOL!  I think the above two responses are even funnier than the original post (wink). Talk about what’s wrong with America! We need a tickle prison for people who live by strict PC rules; maybe enough laughter will lighten them up. And I’m not talking about their weight.

And this one:

She’s a big fatty, and she’s demonstrably biased towards Democrats, that’s enough for me.

Okay here’s the thing.  Declaring that a debate moderator is biased towards one political party may or may not be true in this case.  But at least the question is relevant to the discussion at hand.  What does the fact that she’s a big fatty have to do with the price of fish in Finland?  Nothing.  It’s just a form of hate speech against an extremely intelligent, successful and powerful woman that someone is pretty sure they will get away with.  It’s a cheap shot, and it’s lazy thinking.  But it’s so pervasive in our society that people are appalled when called out on it.

I don’t want to dwell a great deal more on this particular Facebook exchange.  What I really want to talk about is the idea that a woman can ever be powerful enough, successful enough, or strong enough in this world to avoid being called a “fatty, fatty 2×4”?  Is there ever a moment that she’s free from this sort of playground harassment?  Based on what I see coming through on my Facebook feed, I’d have to say no.

And I’m not saying this to depress you.  I’m saying this to make a different point.

For many years I lived under the delusion that if I were smart enough and funny enough and successful enough and dressed well enough, and so on, I would finally be free from childish taunting about my weight.  But at a certain point I realized that I won’t ever be “good enough” to avoid this kind of nonsense.  I had to learn to deal with it when it came at me.  And I have to work to change the world.  Because I’m unlikely to permanently change my size to a level that’s acceptable, and I can’t change the rest of me enough to make this kind of mindless, petty, playground nonsense not happen to me.

And you know what?   This afforded me a freedom of a sort.  I started focusing my energy on getting what I really wanted in life rather than avoiding pain.  I realized that I had no moral obligation to be jolly and I only needed to be funny when I really wanted to.

You don’t have to be nice all the time.  You don’t have to be funny or jolly.  You don’t have to be tame or quiet or good.  Pain will happen anyways.  People will say stupid things anyways.  So you might as well be the person you always wanted to be.  And join me and my colleagues in our quest to make the world a better place for people of all sizes.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S.  Why not start by joining The Fat Chick Clique?  It’s free and it’s liberating!