Agent Provocateur —
Trigger warning: Discussion of eating disorders and weight loss.
Note: You’ll notice we have a new rating above. The DW stands for Dickweed, and it indicates that the subject of the post is generally being a douchebag. So, if you don’t want to read about someone saying or doing terrible things to fat people, you may want to skip it.
Last week, the internet briefly exploded (as it is oft want to do) when a Kickstarter launched with the title, “I’m learning to apologise for my Metabolism :: Photo Book.” Its creator, Britton Delizia, is attempting to raise $20,000 to fund a “Collection of images of women standing up against a society that protects fat culture while bastardizing thin and athletic women.”
The response from fatties was predictable: “‘A society that protects fat culture’? What in the ever-loving fuck are you talking about?”
But, okay, let’s run with Britton’s premise: our society protects fatties and treats them like a modern day Venus of Willendorf, worthy of adoration and respect. Let’s just imagine for a moment that television viewers aren’t about to embark on the 14th season of celebrating shit like this:
Let’s just say that thin, athletic women aren’t the standard template for lead characters in virtually every television show, movie and pop group produced for at least the past 40 years. Let’s just agree that Britton is an oppressed minority, subjected to harassment from strangers because it has been “encouraged and beat into our children’s heads from birth to judge, bash, and condemn anyone who is of a more statuesque build than you, or fits more ideally inside of the model of the golden ratio.”
In this Bizarro World, where thin people are demonized by society because they’re too perfect, Britton has arisen to lead her sylphic sisters in a search for self-worth and self-acceptance. Let’s call her movement, Thin Acceptance.
That Thin Acceptance comes into existence in response to cultural oppression puts Britton’s next comment into context:
Its undeniable that when we stand a skinny, athletic or even average sized female next to a larger (even if less healthy, overweight or obese) female, that unless we live outside of this stigma, we as Americans will assume that the heavier person is funnier, smarter, nicer, and less sexually promiscuous, all because she is not as thin or physically fit than the girl next to her.
This thing she just wrote? Yeah, that’s the underlying principle of Body Acceptance, a correlate of Fat Acceptance. Even if you disagree with the premise that fatties have the edge on positive stereotypes and skinnies are opppressed, that doesn’t change the fact that an assumption based on physical appearance is always wrong. Body Acceptance seeks to teach everyone who has a body (i.e., all of us) that our worth, our value, our personal traits are not determined by the body we inhabit.
I’m not nice because I’m fat, I’m nice because I was raised by nice people. I’m not sexually promiscuous because I’m thin, I’m sexually promiscuous because I love sex. The body is merely vessel through which we express those pre-existing traits.
Now, body size and shape can influence a person’s feelings of self-worth and even the traits they exhibit. A fatty can be less sexually promiscuous after a lifetime of being treated like an unattractive, unfuckable blob monster. But a similar sized fatty raised under those exact same circumstances can revolt against those assumptions by becoming an insatiable fuck-monster.
There is no one factor which determines how much you like to fuck. Your body size or shape may affect how others respond to your interest in fucking, but you may also have a foundation of self-confidence that supersedes a person’s initial physical disinterest. Because, let’s face it, there are plenty of fatties out there gettin’ some action right now and who have no trouble doing so on a regular basis. Same with skinnies and in-betweenies.
And there are members of all three groups who also find the whole dating and mating thing interminably frustrating. They either want to have sex and can’t get any, or they aren’t interested in sex at all. I truly believe that body shape has less to do with which group you belong to than other factors that that are determined through nature and nurture. For example, I always had trouble dating because I was annoying and weird. That was my cross to bear.
But Body Acceptance is about detaching the person you are, or the person you want to be, from the body you have inherited. You cannot look at a person and know what he or she is like. I mean, you can try, but you’d be wrong most likely.
So, in that sense, I agree with what Britton is saying. In fact, Fierce Fatties once hosted a guest post on this subject by Lux from “Fuck Yeah, Skinny Chicks.” If people see Britton standing next to a fatty and ascribe negative stereotypes to her because she’s thin and and muscular, then they are shallow dickweeds and should be treated accordingly.
But this is where my agreement with Britton ends, because on the same page where she makes her appeal for Body Acceptance, she writes this…
The premise of the book is not to bash or assault any single body type, quite the opposite. I want to share the stories of women who have dealt with this discriminatory action.
… she also includes this photo:
That completely destroys any and all credibility she had in terms of Body Acceptance.
Essentially, Britton has said, “Stop making assumptions about me!” then pointed at the nearest fatty to said, “Stop being such a pig!”
But one thing I noticed about this photo is the wall of motivational posters. It’s like the Jame Gumb’s workout room. “It puts the lotion on its skin!”
So, I got to wondering who exactly this confused woman is.
And there, on Kickstarter, is a link to her Facebook page, where we learn that Britt is both a traditional motorcycle ass model…
… as well as an internet fetish model (NSFW).
There’s nothing wrong with either of these professions. It’s your life, what the hell do I care.
But the reason I mention her two occupations is that in both cases, she is no doubt deriving some financial benefit from staying thin. If she were to gain weight, she would not be getting paid to show her butt to bikers and she might also risk losing paying customers from her fetish site. Much like female entertainers, staying thin is part of the job. In fact, it was British pop star Claire Richards who said that staying thin “is like a full-time job.”
The fact that Britton Delizia works very hard to maintain her body does not bother me in the least. It’s her body. Why would anyone care what it looks like or what she does with it? I could care less.
It seems, however, that the opposite is not so true.
Britton’s Kickstarter, including the plea for civility toward thin and athletic women, launched December 3rd. Meanwhile, the day before, Britt posted this on Facebook:
Wow… dissin’ fatties and the developmentally disabled in a single post? Double whammy!
And the day before that?
It also seems that Britt may have Photoshopped this fat joke herself:
HAHAHA! It’s funny because it’s fat people.
Reading the exchange that takes place under that photo, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the project that inspired Britton to start her Kickstarter:
Ya know, Britt, there’s a huge difference between having an eating disorder and being the heavier versions of the pop stars above. Calista Flockhart described the situation herself in 2006:
“I started under-eating, over-exercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalising my immune system. I guess I just didn’t find the time to eat. I am much more healthy these days.”
Oh, and then there was the time she collapsed on the set from dehydration and exhaustion. But I think it’s telling that Britt’s best example comes from the late ’90s. Yes, when a celebrity gets Calista Flockhart thin, people start whispering “anorexia,” because eating disorders are rampant among female celebrities. It doesn’t justify a stranger telling a thin woman to “eat a sandwich,” but it does put Britt’s persecution complex into context.
Staying pop-star thin is not a prerequisite for health. For Britney Spears, that meant eating 1,200 calories per day and “obsessed with working out,” in her own words. Eating healthy and exercising can improve your health, but the amount of exercise necessary for health is not nearly as much as the three pop stars have admitted to engaging in to stay thin. And eating a healthy diet without caloric restriction is still healthy
If you want to be healthy, then the goal should not be thinness, it should be to improve your metabolic indicators: blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids. Get those to healthy levels and stop worrying about making your body look a certain way.
But Britton, like most people who whine about how thin people are treated worse than fat people, doesn’t care about health. In all honesty, it seems like she uses her “oppression” to justify her fat jokes. As in, “See, since the world hates skinny people, it’s perfectly acceptable to post fat jokes. After all, it’s the jealous fatties who are the ones oppressing the poor skinny people.”
Even worse, Britt sees a double standard:
[T]he insurgence of women who feel they have been put into box where they are allowed to be attacked but are not allowed to defend themselves, where they can be mocked and assaulted for having an ideal size, or for working on their body , but where the inverse is a protected category of people who if you were to repeat to them the inverse (Girl you look like you need a sandwich VS You should skip a meal) you could be fired , assaulted, or arrested for a hate crime.
Um… Britt? You can’t be arrested for telling someone to skip a meal. It happens all the fucking time, and the jails aren’t full of those assholes.
As far as being assaulted goes… you mean to tell me that you have told someone to skip a meal and they assaulted, verbally or physically, you and you were surprised by this? And by all means, if someone tells you to eat a sandwich, feel free to respond. Nobody’s stopping you.
And, finally, fired? Yeah, if you tag your customers as “fat girls” on their receipt, you should be fired. The same should happen if he wrote “skinny chicks” too. But when’s the last time you heard about a waiter insulting a thin person at a restaurant? Doesn’t happen. Instead, you hear stories of the server who was not only not tipped, but the asshole customer wrote “You could stand to loose (sic) a few pounds.” Hell, this Bed, Bath and Beyond employee even took a non sequitur swipe at fatties on the way out.
It seems like the only people who like to insult people on receipts are fat haters and racists.
So, no, I don’t think Britt or her svelte sisters are oppressed. Maybe people make comments about you being “too thin,” but being thin does not lead to discrimination on the job or by doctors or by strangers. Being subject to assumptions and stereotypes does not make you oppressed either, especially when research shows actual, real-world benefits from being a thin woman:
Women who weighed 25 pounds less than the norm earned an average of $15,572 more per year, and those who weighed more were penalized as their weight increased—a woman 25 pounds above the norm earned an average $13,847 less.
That’s a $29,000 difference in annual pay between the oppressed thin and the oppressed fat. Thin oppression must be nice.
In the end, I think Britt launched her Kickstarter as an attempt to satirize fat people by turning the oppression table around. But her premise is flimsy at best, as there are a whole list of privileges that come with having thin, socially acceptable body.
But it doesn’t matter what kind of body you have, nobody has the right to tell you what your body should or should be be, let alone how you should treat your own body. We’re all grown-ups here. We can take care of ourselves.
So, if you want to respond to Britt’s passive aggressive whinging, my recommendation is to find a Kickstarter that is actually legitimate and support them. For instance, Rebecca Jane Weinstein, author of the book “Fat Sex,” is now raising money for her second book, “Fat Kids.” She needs $5,000 by January 29th, so help out if you can.