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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Clarity in the Check Out Lane - Contributor Post

Today, I'm lucky enough to share a post from Pollychromatic who had a sobering experience at a grocery store that cemented a realization that so often floats around our collective peripheral vision.

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I was standing in the checkout line waiting my turn. Bored. Looking at the magazine covers rather than making eye contact with the other people in line.

As you do.

I was doing this, and something really clarified for me.

See, there was this horrible rag cover. Globe or National Enquirer, or Star, or something. It had the title of “Worst Beach Bodies.” There’s Kim Kardashian’s butt, front and center, titled “Double Wide.” Ha! Ha! Because Kim Kardashian has a butt that is wide, you see. Oh, and we all agree that big butts mean fat, and fat means ugly err, I mean not healthy. So we can all make fun of her butt being big because really we’re just concerned about her health and fuck if she doesn’t deserve it because what the hell is she doing thinking her big butt is okay to show off to the world as desirable! How dare she?! The nerve!

NEEEEEXT!

People I don’t know, people I don’t know, people I don’t know and… what? Is that the little person from that tv show? Amy Roloff? What in the actual fuck? They’re making fun of her? Because her body is different? And she dared to show it on the beach?

Are you fucking kidding me?

You know that point when your ears start to make that whooshing sound and your vision narrows, and you realize that you might just actually be one ragequit away from a for real stroke because you actually got that pissed off?

I was there. Right there.

And I want to use nicer language. I want to not use curse words, because I’d like for you to pass this around, and I know that using curse words makes that harder for you to do. I know that curse words are the retreat of a small vocabulary and that it takes finer skill and creates more power to write without them, but I am so enraged by this.

But it made something clear.

See, I’ve grown desensitized to the fat shaming. Every now and then it’ll get my ire up, but I have come to expect it. It’s what our media does. It’s what people in our culture do. It’s what our coworkers and friends and family do. Not all of them, sure, but enough. We can spread the body positivity from here to eternity, but the streak of shame and blame that we place on people, and ourselves, for fat, for daring to be fat? That’s wider than all the fat combined. It’s heavier, meatier, and I am here to tell you uglier.


Gabourey Sidibe can make her speeches about living past the hate and finding her own beauty, but at the end, we know, we all know, there are a world of comments that will come after about how she should still lose a few pounds. At the least, “for her health.”

And we’ve come to expect that, if not accept that. We don’t, as a culture, accept that fat is a genetic difference, we don’t, as a culture, accept that fat is just another one of the facets of beauty that exists in our species.

But.

I did not expect that to be put on a little person. I didn’t expect the highly critical eye of the media to turn to a person who was born with the genes that express themselves through one of the many varieties of drawfism. Amy Roloff is a little person. Her body is different. Making fun of her body for being different makes as much sense as making fun of Stephen Hawking because he’s in a wheelchair.

Here’s another horrible part of this. They cropped the picture carefully. They didn’t make fun of her husband for daring to be a little person on the beach. All the hate was reserved for her. Because that’s what we do.

And I really should have known better. Because we know better, don’t we? Of course the media is going to make fun of Amy Roloff. Just like they make fun of Gabourey Sidibhe. And it really is all the same. And it isn’t about a focused set of standards of beauty. It isn’t about the overuse of photoshop. It isn’t about fashion. It isn’t even about attraction, or health.
It’s about being bullies.

We’ve accepted a culture that bullies, especially, women. We take part in it. We consume it and regurgitate it and spread it far and wide on Tumblr and Pinterest and blogs and Instagram.

And god. I sort of want to thank that horrible magazine for clarifying it for me. Because damn if another picture dissecting what parts of whichever actress they took apart this week for being too fat was going to get through to me.

If you are a woman, you are less than. You are a consumable product. Here are your array of products and services to purchase so that you can be consumed. And you will consume it. $20 billion a year on the diet industry. $34 billion a year on beauty products and services (I’m sure there’s some overlap there on beauty services/products and the diet industry, but you get the idea). There’s a lot of money to be made by telling you that you look like crap. And when you get fed up and feel down and depressed about it, there’ll be a whole row of magazines at the grocery store, and entire blogs dedicated to ripping apart actresses and female celebrities who didn’t live up to the expectations that you haven’t been able to live up to either. And maybe you’ll rip them apart, too. So you can feel better about how shitty you feel about yourself, inevitably.

And maybe it’s time that we see that we feel like shit because we have been consumed and processed through a machine that digests us to turn us into ready consumers for their products and services. Maybe it’s time we realize that this media machine is not celebrating the beautiful life, but the impossible life, simply so we will consume it and be consumed by it. That the reason will feel like shit is because we have been shat.

And maybe we need to step away from the bullies and stop giving them our voices and ears to use. We need to stop consuming this. There’s just no world where it is acceptable to make fun of people’s bodies for being different. We need to turn it around on ourselves. There’s just no world where it is acceptable to make fun of our own body for being different.

Dammit, we are the expression of a beautiful conglomeration of millennia of evolution. We are life. We are living, breathing, thinking, dancing, rolling, wrinkling, jiggling, taut, stretched, bunched up, beautiful life. In myriad forms. We are life.

And that is beautiful.



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