Friday, August 12, 2005

"French Women Don't Get Fat"

ChaliceChick is blogging about dieting, and I am commenting:

I bought that best-selling book French Women Don't Get Fat, and it's a fairly fun read except for the author's rather precious cheer-leadery writing style, liberally peppered with cutesy French phrases.

She talks about gaining 20 lbs in college and how her father, upon seeing her for the first time, blurted out that she looked like a sack of potatoes.

What a jerk. TWENTY pounds? Please. If I put my mind to it I'm sure I could gain twenty lbs. between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. I mean...twenty lbs. does not a sack of potatoes make.

Of course what's fascinating is that while the author admits to being terribly stung by her loving pere's greeting, she never acknowledges how cruel and inappropriate her father's vicious indictment of her body really is. She's hurt, and he's tactless. Poor, tactless papa. That's as far as it goes.

In the words of another best-selling book about fat chicks, Fat IS a feminist issue. "French (Men Don't Let Their) Women Get Fat?"

I'm not denying the obesity problem we have in this country. I'm not suggesting that living at a healthy weight and exercising/staying active aren't good and important things. They are, and I, like most people I know, am constantly battling the bulge, trying not to fall prey to Taco Bell on a regular basis, and hustling my buns to the gym with guilty semi-regularity.

But the hostility and disgust that our culture reserves for fat chicks (much more so than for fat dudes) has nothing to do with health and wellness. It has to do with sexism and misogyny and the sense that a woman who takes up too much space is a crime against the natural order.

Take a little spin through today. Keep count of how many men specify that they will only date slim or petite women (one of the more cloying euphemisms for "non-fatty." Hey fellas, I am petite! I'm 5'3" and buy clothes in the petite department but just, shall we say, in the very upper registers size-wise!).

Here are some of the qualities that single men are apparently not nearly as interested in as in thinness: kindness, social consciousness, loyalty, intellectual curiosity, community involvement, home-making skills, spiritual fitness, strength in crisis, ability to sing and dance well, energy, lust, aesthetic sense, good relationship with family, a fine education, experience in living different places, professional accomplishment, self-respect, sense of humor and of the absurd, resiliency, independence, supportiveness, ability to express emotions, intimacy, honesty, compassion.

I have wondered for years that if we lived in a culture that didn't actively demonize fat women, ridicule them and exclude them from the never-ending parade of sexy, gorgeous images constantly titillating men (and women) to buy all kinds of products (not to mention render them utterly invisible on prime time), perhaps hetero men would find that their menu of potential lust objects to be far wider and broader (pun intended) than it currently is.

Desire is an interesting thing. It can be easily manipulated by image, and powerfully influenced by public opinion.

Fat Doll


Blogger Chalicechick said...

I always did my best to view this issue as an easy trimming off of the shallow people.

But if you take the sociobiologist view, men are hard-wired to find women more attractive when they look healthy and not pregnant. So maybe it isn't totally their fault.


Blogger TheCSO said...

As a great admirer of boobtastic women, I think all those 'skinny women only' guys are missing out on a lot.

On another note, eHarmony is targeted at people like my mother*. The ads are even shot with that exact soft-focus lens that ads targeting her are often shot in..

* Just to clarify, PeaceBang, you and my mother are VERY different people.

Blogger Steve Caldwell said...

The optional "Sexuality and Our Faith" videotape for Our Whole Lives Grades 10-12 puts the current-day skinny media fixation in a historical context.

Here's a brief quote from the narration on the video:

"Art from other culture and times past also illustrate that today's American vision of beauty as young and thin is by no means universal.

Women and men with ample body fat were seen as very sexy in other civilizations and cultures. Especially in nineteen-century Western art, ample body fat was seen not only as a sign of health and desirability but also as a symbol of wealth, especially in times when food was scarce. Artists like Renoir and Rubens celebrated full-figured women in their paintings."

This critical analysis of current-day media messages that portray only a limited selection of body types as being sexually desirable happens in both middle and high school Our Whole Lives. Providing our youth with the tools to evaluate these media messages is important.


Post a Comment

<< Home