"French Women Don't Get Fat"
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 www.match.com 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.