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#Fatkini Concern Trolling and Other Nice Reads

So, in the end despite promises I did not write about work parties, and feeling compelled to drink in #alcoholisgod #howcomeyoudontdrink environments. Perhaps another time. But today I’ve *cough* had time (read = MADE time, despite other commitments) to read up on #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen (ooooh, the links! I’ll post some later). I was having an awesome time reading, when – on friend’s Facebook – I saw an article posted with a simple “Word” comment.

Sue me, I clicked. It was a great response to this article.

The first, chronologically, text, has a title “The #Fatkini hashtag is well intentioned, but will only serve to fetishize fat as well as thin”. Oh-kay, heavy-handed there. Should be replaced with: “This text needs to appear well-intentioned”, which is not at all the same thing. Then, the lead presents a fresh concern: #Fatkini “only perpetuates the idea that it’s okay to comment on people’s weight”. So, commenting on people’s weight is now equal to fetishising it and I haven’t started reading yet. Lead on, Macduff. I have a feeling it gets worse.

In the first couple of paragraphs the author confesses both her own approach to beachwear (90% “let’s go!” vs 10% culturally-motivated anxiety). Then she prepares ground for her argument, praising the courage and beauty of women who posted #fatkini pictures, mentioning that she would never (I only posted half! and edited it! because I’m not that confident REALLY), and we’re waiting for a big fat (pun intended) BUT.

But I worry that the #fatkini movement is creating as many problems as it is solving”.

Say what?

Daisy Buchanan, the author, says that we’d be happier and healthier women if we stopped focusing (read: overfocusing, obsessing over, worrying about) our bodies. I agree with that on principle. Our culture seems to have a vested interest in keeping women’s time occupied with differentiating lipstick shades. Great if you like it, horrible if you feel like you have to. However, being focused on your body, when you have to live in it and care for it, is not a bad thing. Being proud of your body, and taking to producing media representations of fat bodies, because they are only present in media as a butt of fat jokes, is not a bad thing.

I could go on, but I shall just write it in a letter form.

Dear Daisy,

I think you mean well, but casting #fatkini as part of the problem, you get it wrong. I mean to help. The “problem” is called patriarchy. Its idea is to scrutinise and judge women’s bodies, label them (extremely fat, thin, or just right) and divide these women so that dislike themselves and one another, all in good, old style of “divide and conquer”. #Fatkini is a reaction to a problem; it’s an attempt to change an existing narrative. It’s a challenge to the system. It deserves support, not women turning onto other women for doing something “wrong”, even though the scrutinising, fetishising and judging of women’s bodies happens in a co-ed space, and men are also, if not primarily, perpetrators of it. Your text does not mention men much, but they are a part of the problem as well – your “naturally slim” friend does not catcall herself, after all. (Now, I understand why you underline Jenny being naturally slim, versus, say, anorexic/bulimic, but that phrasing brings its own problems – like thinking that all fat people are “unnaturally” fat, like you know enough about their “nature”, metabolism and health to place such a judgement).

Speaking of, later on you do talk about health. Now, I honour and respect your own health problems that center around weight issues. However, to talk about other people’s health, nevermind fat people’s health? You’d need to do a hell more RESEARCH. Your own experience is NOT enough, nor does it give you leave to comment. Obesity is a real problem in developed countries, but to talk about obesity is to talk about food industry; about food advertising; about food additives. To talk about obesity, is to talk about mental health, depression and why food can become an alternative to expressing emotions. To talk about obesity is to talk about attractiveness praradigm, molestation (and women who prefer to be fat and conventionally unattractive) and rape culture.

Talking about obesity, while part of an important conversation that needs to happen, has nothing to do with some girls who posted bikini shots, which is nothing girls don’t do every day. They are not creating these problems, nor are they perpetuating it. They are doing this thing called EXISTING. We exist in a flawed, patriarchal world. Social media is part of that existence. But if you worried about fetishising, you would spend time writing and worrying about all people who post pictures online. Also, if a someone, somewhere gets off on these pictures, how is it these women’s fault or responsibility? This argument smacks of “but her skirt was short and she was out late” logic. There is always someone, somewhere. Doesn’t mean that fat girls can’t strut their stuff online. If you think it’s bad for us, women, don’t single the fat ones out like you’re picking your volleyball team in a PE class.

I think – hope – possibly you meant well (okay, erring on side of caution here). But you published it, and it echoes round Internet. Alice’s response to you is great, but she doesn’t deconstruct your article, as I did, likely because she’s had enough dealing with concerned voices of people who know nothing about her, but are very willing to judge. Willingly or not, you joined these people. With this text, you are a concern troll; an Internet equivalent of a person who comes into somebody’s dinner party and yells “BUT WHAT ABOUT TEH CHILDREN”, just for shits and giggles. You’re derailing an important conversation about body image and representation, hijacking someone else’s party by shouting about health issues that are too badly researched to be relevant. Sorry #journalistfail. And you have some actual clout as a writer, which makes it even worse. Your text, as witty as it tries to be, is actually judgmental, under-researched and harmful. Please use your power responsibly. Please. And read up. Start with Alice’s response. It says all that needs to be said to begin with.

 

Love,

Rita

 

 

Honestly, some girls post bikini pics and suddenly they are responsible for patriarchy, fructose poisoning and the end of the world….