Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fat Hatred Or Not? You Decide


Yep, what's the deal with this "Too Big to Fail" doctrine? Yeah, why is the Obama administration intent on feeding these bankers more pizza? Uh-huh, if you haven't figured it out, and just in case you thought the pic above to be sexist as it takes shots at "big girls" (a term embraced by overweight women I might add), you're dead ass wrong. Instead the picture metaphorically represents our banking industry.

I found this image at The Intersection of Madness.  It was used to illustrate what republicans conceive of as a welfare queen.   The above quote is the beginning of the post in question. The post the image illustrates can be found here.  Please read the post to put the image into context.

Even after reading the post, I feel that the image invokes fat hatred.  You will notice that there is no emphasis on her face, she is partially nude and surrounded by food.  In no way does the above image assert any form of personhood for this woman.  The fact that she is surrounded by food is particularly problematic, as it reifies the falsehood that fat people are always eating.  It speaks of gluttony.  Her body is not displayed as an expression of self pride, rather it is on display to encourage disgust and to satisfy voyeurism.  Fat women used to illustrate the bloat of corporations is simply wrong.  This is a person we are talking about.  Also the term “big girl” used in this context is highly offensive. You cannot separate “big girl” from consumption, when the woman in question is surrounded by food.

I have not done a lot of work in fat advocacy, so I contacted Kate Harding of  The Shapely Prose, to find out her thoughts.

I would say it promotes fat hatred primarily because of how it's being used. Focus is not on her face, but she's smiling, so I don't find it as dehumanizing as headless photos, let's say. But this strikes me as softcore feeder porn -- a whole other issue -- being repurposed to gross people out

I mean, I hate that she's surrounded by food, etc.

But I strongly suspect that was meant to eroticize her in the context the photo was meant for

I am no fan of feederism, for the record

I do understand why it is important to fight against the conceptualization of Black women as welfare queens, however; promoting negative images of fat people combats nothing.  It simply reaffirms negative images we have of both Black women and Fat Black women.  Big momma in this case is a visual buffoon . I argued with Rippa, the author of the post in question regarding this photo.  His response is as follows. 

An see, that fat hatred bullshit you're running was countered in the original posting. Yes Renee, I specifically made mention of your assumed sexism and just as I expected you didn't disappoint. Which makes me question whether you even read the post (LOL) - uh-huh, it's a setup Renee; I knew you would see what you saw. Fat hatred? Sorry my dear, my wife is fat and I happen to love fat girls. That said, could it be that in this instance you're projected some internalized feeling as it relates to fat people? Trust me I'm fat and on occasion I do that myself. But see I can be honest about mine. Can you?

My issue with this picture is about fat hatred.  We see it everyday and often it goes unchallenged.  It is okay to mock fat people and devalue them socially.  We create myths about fatness to substantiate this devaluation and just like any other social bias, not only is it wrong, it is extremely harmful. 

Fat positive looks like this

image There are many ways in which Rippa could have illustrated his post.  Often the images we choose to accept, speak loudly about what unspoken biases we have normalized. He may claim to love fat women because he has a fat wife, but his selection is a poor way to show it.