media

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On the Telly!

Published May 29, 2014 by sleepydumpling

Just a quickie for those who haven’t seen it, I did a piece for news and pop culture show “The Feed” on SBS which aired on Monday night.  They kindly put it on YouTube, so I can share it with you here!

Enjoy!  It’s my first ever telly appearance! (Well, except for the time that news crew filmed me outside my work and used me as a headless fatty.)

Fear and Loathing (and Jealousy) in BrisVegas

Published April 9, 2014 by sleepydumpling

Well… for all of you who have yet to see it, Jasmin Lill has done another excellent interview for News.com.au.  I’m going to link to The Australian version, because there are only two comments and they are a WHOLE lot less shitty than those on the Courier Mail (one of my colleagues tried to read them and he got so angry and upset I had to make him stop reading) and nobody needs to be subjected to that.

But speaking of being subjected to things… boy, have I had a lot of hate in my inbox over the past 8-10 hours.  No doubt there will be more, the bullies and abusers always come out of the woodwork whenever one of us has something in the mainstream media.  It was like fat hate bingo on steroids all day.

I know why.  Two reasons.  Firstly, they’re afraid, because they’re being called out on their shitty behaviour publicly – it makes them nervous that someone in their own lives is going to tell them what douchebags they are.  It’s only a matter of time before it happens.  Secondly, they are unbelievably jealous.  They’re so dirty that they’re not the ones being listened to, being asked their opinions, being sought after to tell their story.  It drives them wild with jealousy that the people that they believe are beneath them, that they believe they are better than, are the ones being taken seriously.  Man, that’s got to sting.  Good.

However, the reason I’m posting tonight is that while I was on the train home tonight, feeling tired after an intense day, frustrated that The Courier Mail don’t have a better commenting policy, and fed up with being told to go die in a fire or that I am disgusting, a song shuffled into play on my iTunes and just reminded me of the important message.

So for all of you who’ve ever had to deal with pathetic people who have nothing better to do than say hateful things, here’s a song for you…

No More Media Excuses

Published July 8, 2013 by sleepydumpling

Well.  Just a little while ago I received the following email and I was outraged.  I think my response sums it up pretty clearly, don’t you?

Morning,
I was wondering if you’d be around for a chat over the phone this morning about a story we’re covering.
We’re going to be talking to Katie Hopkins who has come out and said that she wouldn’t employ an overweight person as they’re all lazy….
Wondered if you’d be up for challenging this remark?
Can you call me on [redacted]?
Look forward to hearing from you.
Natasha Bateman
Producer
Mornings with Adrian Goldberg

And my response:

Natasha,

Katie Hopkins and her ignorant, bigoted attitudes are not worth me getting out of bed for, let alone making a long distance phone call from Australia to the UK for.  It shows an astonishing lack of respect from you to expect me to respond to someone who so openly hates people like me.  In fact, it is completely shameful that you would even have someone like that on your radio show AT ALL and expect your listeners to tolerate it.  Would you allow someone who would discriminate on the grounds of gender, sexuality or race on your show to spout their bigotry?  Would you ask a woman, a gay person or a person of colour to also appear on your show with someone who is going to openly spout hate at them?  I would hope not, so why would you ask a fat person to participate in such a programme?

We are led to believe that the BBC is one of the quality broadcasters of the world.  Yet you still entertain the notion that it is acceptable to allow people who openly and unashamedly discriminate against other human beings to have air time on your shows to promote their hateful, ignorant attitudes, and that the people who are the victims of their hate are in some way obligated to spend their time responding to them.  That is not the mark of a quality broadcasting service.  It is the mark of gutter media trying to stir up ratings.

Please do not waste my time in future unless you are willing to ensure that I am treated with the basic dignity and respect that I deserve as a human being, by both your programme and any guests you intend to have on it.

Yours sincerely
Kath Read

It’s time we started calling out the media for this kind of behaviour.  It is time we responded to these media outlets and told them that they are both wasting our time and are deeply disrespectful to expect us to tolerate such hateful attitudes, let alone respond to them.  The media have stitched up so many of we fat activists over the years, that it’s time we name our terms and start valuing ourselves as worthy human beings, as busy people who have better things to do in our lives than be subjected to people like Katie Hopkins and their bigotry.

No more excuses about “it’s what people want to hear” and “it’s just debate”.  We don’t want to hear people like Katie Hopkins any more.  If people want to hear someone like Katie Hopkins spouting bigotry in the media, then they should be ashamed of themselves.  Not to mention that our rights as human beings are not up for debate with anyone.  People don’t get to “debate” whether we fat people deserve to be treated with basic dignity and respect.  We do, as do all human beings.

The Burden of Hate

Published September 24, 2012 by sleepydumpling

So yeah, I dyed my hair turquoise on the weekend.  Check it out:

I’m really happy with it, it’s bold and colourful and fun.  But I didn’t expect the reaction I would get from Joe and Jane Public.  Holy crap!

I did expect it to draw some attention, of course I did, why else would I dye it such a bold colour?  I like being different, I like standing out, and I like being unapologetic for who I am.  But I had no idea that it would attract the sheer hostility that it has done in the past 48 hours, peaking this afternoon at some random guy yelling “What the fuck?!  Why would you want to draw attention to that fucking head??!” as I walked to the train station after work.

But it has been happening in a myriad of ways over the past two days.  Three times yesterday I caught people photographing me without my consent, and two of them showed the people with them the photos and laughed.  People have cast disgusted, even hostile looks at me, have stared, have laughed, have nudged each other and pointed, have made negative comments about my appearance and generally just made it apparent that I should not have turquoise hair.

It’s exhausting.  I feel like I have to be on guard to protect myself all the time, because when I let my guard down, like I did walking home tonight, that’s when I get slammed with something like the attack above.

Yet if I looked like this, I’d be told my turquoise hair is beautiful.

See, I think it boils down to this.  Fat women are not supposed to make themselves visible.  We’re supposed to be ashamed of who we are, we’re supposed to hide ourselves away and make sure nobody can see us.  Why?  Because the media and marketing, the government and even medical practitioners tell the world that fat should be prevented, cured, eradicated.  Fat should not exist, and if it does, the bearer of that fat should be deeply ashamed of themselves.  They should not draw attention to themselves, they should not walk with their shoulders back and their head held high, they should not be confident.  They should be apologetic for their existence.

This is what happens when a culture believes fat = bad.  This is what happens when it is culturally acceptable for fat people to be vilified publicly by the media, marketing, the government and the medical field.  This is what happens when a world stops treating fat people as humans and treats them as a disease.  “Obesity” is no longer a descriptive word for human fatness, all humanity is stripped from it, and fatness is seen as a disease, a thing that must be eradicated.  Our personhood matters nothing when our bodies are fat.

The general public get this message hundreds of times per day, that fat must be eradicated, that fat is a scourge on society, and that fat is less than human.  Daily there are so many messages blasted at everyone, on television, in newspapers and magazines, in journal articles, in books, in advertising, in movies, from comedians and writers.  Over and over that message is repeated – fat is less than human.

So is it any wonder, that when a woman like me, very fat and very visible comes along in Joe/Jane Public’s world, walking down the street, minding my own business on my way home from work, that some of them think it’s perfectly acceptable to pour hatred on me.

But I will not carry that hate.  I will not hate myself because society says that my body makes me less than human.  I will not hate myself because you are taught to hate me.  I will not hate myself because you hate yourself.  I will not feel ashamed of my body because you deem it shameful.

I will continue to dress and adorn MY body in a way that pleases ME, because it belongs to ME.  The eyes I look into in the mirror are mine, not yours.  The life I am living is mine, not yours.

Keep your hate to yourself.  It is your burden to carry, not mine.

The Fortunate Ones

Published June 14, 2012 by sleepydumpling

One of the corollaries of talking to the media repeatedly about the same concepts over and over again is that you do a lot of self reflection on topics, constantly honing and shaping how your activism works and how it applies to your life and your self perception.  Mostly, this is a good thing – evolution is a healthy process, though one does have to take care not to internalise and dwell on the negative.

The best part though, is that sometimes you have a real “Aha!” moment, where a light goes on in your mind and something is clarified for you.

I had one of those moments yesterday while talking to a journalist from the Sunday Mail (Brisbane).  She had asked me what I thought the difference was between how other people see me, and how I see myself.  My response was that it was twofold – people who know me, even through this blog or other social media have one perception of me, and then there is the average punter on the street, who sees me just as an anonymous fat woman somewhere in public.

What I really wanted to focus on is how fat people in general are perceived, rather than me personally, and I was talking about how culturally, fat people are either viewed with disgust, as lazy/dirty/gluttonous etc, or we’re viewed with pity, as though we’re sad/depressed/lonely and so on.  I was talking about how neither of those perceptions were valid for me personally, and for most fat people I know in fact, when a light went on in my head and I said “Really, what I am is lucky.”

I didn’t mean that I am lucky to be fat, but that I’m lucky in that I stumbled across fat acceptance, and that I have been able to take up fat activism myself.  On reflection, I believe that we are the lucky fatties, those of us who have found something outside of the dominant paradigm.  Not just the luck of stumbling across whatever blog or resource we did, but also we’re lucky in that we’ve found an alternative to the cycle of self loathing, punishment to our bodies with diets and other damaging weight loss schemes, emotional self-flagellation and general misery of hating our bodies for being something other than thin.  It’s not an easy process, but at least we have it, unlike those who still believe that their bodies are bad/failures/broken.

Of course, personally speaking I’m very fortunate.  One of the benefits of spending so much time doing this is that I get a lot of really awesome opportunities.  They don’t come without hard work and effort, but their value is not diminished by the work it takes for them to happen.

No matter how far down this road of self acceptance and fat positivity I get, I cannot forget what it felt like before I found my way to this road.  I cannot forget the crippling depression, the constant anxiety, the physical pain of torturing my body with ridiculous exercise regimes, starvation and purging.  I cannot forget how lonely and lost I felt.  Most of all I cannot forget the fear.  Fear that I would never be good enough.  Fear that I would never find happiness, love, joy… peace.  Even fear that I would die.  No matter how far away I get from those years, I still remember those feelings.  They are marked on me in indelible ink, as much a permanent part of me as the tattoos I have adorned myself with since.

To be honest, I don’t want to forget those feelings, because they remind me of just how lucky I am as a fat woman to have found an alternative, to be able to opt out of that paradigm.  They also remind me that these were not feelings I came to on my own – they were placed on my shoulders like a mantle by a culture that repeatedly berates fat people as being worthless, broken, bad.

But when you look at it, aren’t we the lucky ones?  Aren’t we the ones who have moved forward and started to reclaim our lives and our bodies?  Don’t we have to resources, skills and community to fill our lives with joy and positivity, instead of self-loathing and fear?  Aren’t we the lucky ones for finding this strength within ourselves, and I believe that fighting the cultural norm about fatness takes great strength of character, and building on it?

Have you thought of your life pre and post FA?  What are your thoughts on the subject?

It’s Out – Australian Women’s Weekly June Edition

Published May 30, 2012 by sleepydumpling

Hey all!  Just a quick blog post from me tonight, I’ve been sideswiped by a cold that has gone through my office like a brush fire, so I’m trying to indulge in some self care to help get through it as quickly as possible.

I discovered this morning that yes, my article in the Australian Women’s Weekly (AWW) is out today!  For those of you looking to get a print copy, it is this one, with Chrissie Swan on the cover:

I’m pretty chuffed to be in an issue that has Chrissie on the cover, she’s awesome.  And she has some really positive things to say about living life as a fat woman.

I’m pretty impressed with this from Chrissie:

“It’s shaming fat people into thinking their heart’s about to explode, their legs are about to be cut off due to diabetes. They’ll never conceive a child, they’ll never get married, they’ll never find love, they’ll never get the job they want.”

Chrissie — who has two sons, Leo, three, and nine-month-old Kit — is especially upset at the messages conveyed to children, that there is something wrong with them and they ought to be ashamed if they are chubby.

“We can’t say fat people are bad, we can’t have them crawl through mud pits on national television and have skinny people yelling at them, saying, ‘How does it feel?’ Because kids see that and they go, ‘Okay, it’s cool to scream abuse and belittle a fat person. I’ll do that next time I see Billy in the playground.’

There is an online version, however it is an abridged version of the full print article. (Note, don’t read the comments unless you have plenty of sanity points to spare!)

Overall I’m happy with the article, it’s not perfect but it has an overwhelmingly positive tone to it, and really entertains some concepts that aren’t normally presented in the mainstream media.  The only thing that bums me out is that they have an “obesity expert” who pushes surgical organ mutilation (weight loss surgery) in the name of “health”.  But that said, I get the final world in the piece, and it’s a pretty damn good quote to end with.

All in all, I think that if just one person Google’s my name, Fat Heffalump, fat acceptance or Health at Every Size, we’ve won.  If we stop one person from hating themselves, or have them entertaining the idea that we can live our lives to the full no matter what size or shape we are, then we’ve smashed down some walls for people.

And since already I’ve had at least one person (waves to Phoebe) come along to this blog from the AWW article, it’s doing it’s job!

 

On Expressions of Dismay and Disbelief…

Published April 11, 2011 by sleepydumpling

It has been a bittersweet couple of days for me.  If you’re not on Twitter and involved in Fat Acceptance, you might have missed the absolute flood of tweets with the hashtag #thingsfatpeoplearetold.  The hashtag originated some time ago with Brian at Red No. 3, but was resurrected a couple of days ago after Catherine Deveny tweeted this damn offensive statement.

And it just took off.   I think the last time Brian tallied up the tweets he could find in a search there were over 2000 original tweets in less than 48 hours.  Mid afternoon I asked Brian to send me the word document he has been compiling, and the document is open here beside me as I type this, 216 pages long, with an average of 10 tweets per page.

I got into it, because it felt like an opportunity for me to vent all of the stupid, senseless, narrow-minded, ignorant, hateful, bigoted things that have been said to me over the years.  As the day went on yesterday, my feelings swung between bitter and sweet.  Bitter because reading all these tweets, and sharing my own, dredges up the hurt, anger, disgust, sorrow, frustration and general outrage I have felt at how I, and other fat people, are treated at the hands of general society.  But also sweetness, because not only was it amazing to hear all of these people finally have a voice, and a considerably powerful one, but there was also a strong sense of community and fellowship building over the past two days.  I gained dozens and dozens of new followers (though I also shed quite a few, who don’t like hearing the truth about the shit fat people are subjected to), and followed many new people myself.

But what I found most telling were the reactions from people who are not fat to many of the things that were tweeted under the hashtag.  And in a way, it makes me angry that so many people are only horrified now at these things.  I feel like “What the fuck have I been saying for the past two years if you’re only getting how horribly fat people are treated now?”

I’ll give you some examples of tweets that horrified some of the people who are not fat that I encountered today:

  • @fatheffalump: [well dressed woman physically pushes me over on an escalator] Well you shouldn’t be so fucking fat! #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @Nocturnal_Nyx said to me – fat people should kill themself and make more room for the normal people. #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @lisa_n: No one’s ever going to love you if you don’t do something about that #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @Mrs_Sprat: You should feel lucky you were raped. How else would someone sleep with you? #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @fatheffalump: “Go away, lose weight, find a boyfriend and come back to me when you want babies.” (a Dr to me, aged 19 & in pain) #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @fatheffalump: “Keep walking ya fat cunt!” Yelled at me from a passing car as I went for an afternoon walk. #thingsfatpeoplearetold
These are just a few that I tweeted or retweeted that got horrified reactions from some of the not-fat folk I follow.


What people aren’t getting is that this shit isn’t one offs.  This shit isn’t something that happens on rare occasions.  It happens to lots of us, all the time.  I myself am literally spat at, have things thrown at me from passing cars, have shit called out at me, am mooed and barked at, have people call me a fat cunt, am photographed in public without my permission, particularly if I dare to eat in public, am laughed at by strangers on the street and receive death threats here on this blog, all of these things several times per week.  AND.  I.  AM.  NOT.  ALONE.   Over 2000 tweets in 48 hours give testament that this shit is happening to fat people, every day, every where.  God knows how many people out there are suffering without ever giving voice to the things that happen to them.

Simply because we are fat and we exist in this world.


Yet people are still surprised when we talk about this stuff.  There are still gasps of horror, exclamations of surprise, and declarations of “How can people behave like that to another human being?!”


You know how?  They can because to the people who do this shit, we are “the obese”.  We are not considered “people”, we are considered an “epidemic”.  Governments and the media declare a “war on obesity” – who do you think that war is on?  It’s on US.   We are those headless fatties you see on the news.  We are the “the obese” that the newspapers refer to when they wring their hands over how we’re costing the average taxpayer millions.  We are the “obese women” that journalists write pieces about how we should be ashamed of ourselves, hate ourselves and be shamed by society for being fat.  We are “the obese” who are shamed for daring to want to travel anywhere in a plane and told that we should pay more, buy two seats, not fly at all.  We are the ones who have no decent quality, attractive clothes provided for us at a reasonable price.  We are the ones who are represented on television by fat characters gorging themselves or bullying the “heroes”.   We are the ones that “non-profit organisations” have in mind when they say that childhood obesity is the equivalent to childhood abuse.  We are the ones our own governments set up to be bullied as children in the name of “public health”.


We are the ones who are reviled, shamed, ridiculed, bullied and abused at every fucking turn by the media, the weight loss industry, the beauty industry, the entertainment industry, even the fucking government.


Why else do you think we are treated like this?  Because we are not considered human beings, we’re considered sub-human, and that message is repeated over and over and over again, day in and day out.  So much that most of us spend our lives repeating it to ourselves.



So I want to say this to all of the people who are horrified at the things they read in these tweets.  Don’t just shake your head, gasp in horror, and cluck your tongue at how terrible people are to the poor fatties.  Stand the fuck up. Say something when you hear fat hate.  Speak up when you see someone being treated badly because of the size of their body.  Challenge those articles you see in magazines, newspapers and on television that perpetuate myths about fat people.  Ask questions of the “facts” you see spouted that shame fat people, think about who might just benefit from fat phobia.  After all, fat activists have been doing just this for decades.


Use your voice and join us in speaking out against sizeism.  How many of you will stand up and speak against the mistreatment of animals, yet just change the subject when you hear fat hate against your fellow human beings? How many of you won’t buy a product because it’s not idealogically sound to you, but will happily support an organisation or company  that shames fat people simply for existing in their bodies?


Look, your sympathy is nice.  I appreciate that you feel dismay that fat people are treated badly.  But ultimately we need more than your sympathy.  We need your solidarity.  We need you standing beside us and speaking up to all of society, to say that these are not acceptable ways to treat another human being.  And we need your vocal and obvious support.


We need more than quiet statements of dismay or disbelief.


We need shouts across the rooftops at the injustice of how fat people are treated.




I would like to dedicate this post to Dr Samantha Thomas, a woman who embodies what it means to be a true ally to fat activists, and who sticks her neck out and stands up for the rights of fat people every day, from getting her gorgeous mug on the telly to speaking up when she hears fat stigmatisation in public.  I feel blessed to have her stand beside me and other fat activists in this fight, and even more blessed to call her friend.


Quick Hit: Triple J Hack

Published February 17, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Just a pop in post today.  I was interviewed yesterday morning by Alex Mann from Triple J for the Hack programme on the topic of the interactions between fat people and medical professionals, in particular GP’s (General Practitioners), along with Bec aka @TrashyTeacake from South Australia.

If you’d like a listen, click here.

I have to say, I’m well impressed that the producers of Hack on Triple J have given an opportunity to fat people to talk about how they are treated by health professionals, rather than the usual mainstream media method of speaking to everyone BUT fat people about the topic of fatness and health.  Alex from Triple J even came up here to interview me in person.

Kudos to Hack on Triple J.

My favourite part of the piece was the commentary from Dr Rick Kausman, in particular this quote:

Unfortuntely as a society, we’re focusing on the wrong “W”. We’re focusing on the “W” for weight, rather than the “W” for wellbeing. If we could focus on the “W” for wellbeing, the rest would take care of itself.

Dr Rick, YOU ROCK!

Side note: I was not asked to give my BMI, nor was it verified with me.  I have spoken to Alex about this and made it clear that had I been asked, I would have calculated my BMI (I actually don’t know it at the moment) rather than have them “assign” my BMI based on my mentioning that I am classified as “morbidly obese”.  Alex has apologised and understands the issue of others placing body measures on fat people, particularly in such a public way.

New Year’s Revolution

Published December 31, 2010 by sleepydumpling

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen the New Year’s Revolution campaign started by Marilyn Wann and Amanda A Evans.  The idea is to put an end to the ridiculousness of setting New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, or diet, or any other body loathing goal.  If you’d like to learn more, you can have a look at the campaign page set up here.

Most of the campaign has a Health at Every Size foundation, but since I don’t believe HAES (or even health) is compulsory when it comes to fat/body acceptance, I’m going to skip that bit.

I am however going to talk about fat acceptance and body acceptance as a New Year’s revolution.  I like the idea of “revolution” instead of “resolution” because, well, let’s face it, actively working towards NOT hating your body is radical, revolutionary.  When the mainstream media is flooded with ZOMGOBESITY CRISIS stories, magazines and other popular media tell us in one breath how to love our bodies, then how to diet them away, and then look at these yummy desserts you can make, stepping out of that flooding stream of body negativity is a radical act.

We are taught that loathing your body, no matter it’s size, is normal.  From being too fat, too thin, too short, the wrong shape, too wrinkly, going grey, having visible pores (let alone actual “blemishes” like freckles, scars, zits, moles, and all the other completely normal things that human bodies have), being too hairy, not having lush, flowing locks on our heads, having curly hair, having straight hair, having big breasts, having small breasts, from being apple, or pear, or whatever other fruit they can think of shaped bodies, you name it, you’ll find a magazine article, or a news story, or a television advert about it being “wrong”.  We’re bombarded with these messages from as early as we can hear and see.  We hear them from our parents, our colleagues, our friends, everyone in our life.  We are told what clothes to wear to be “flattering”, what shoes will elongate our legs, what makeup will hide our “flaws”, what diet will get us “bikini ready”.  Fitness, and increasingly more loudly, the moralising of “health” (to be exact: thinness) is the message that is hammered home over and over again.

Is it any wonder that when a new year rolls around, and the cultural meme of setting resolutions for the coming year kicks in, so many of us just default to body loathing to spur us on to our goals?

What if you were to just not do that this year?  What if you were to not set any goals, or if you feel you need to, set a positive one?  Or one not even related to your body?  What do you think would happen?  Do you think that your life would suddenly get worse if you didn’t diet or if you just stopped engaging in body hating activities?  Would you die?  Would anyone go to jail?  Would the zombie apocalypse happen?

I’m totally ready for the zombie apocalypse if it does happen, by the way.  No really, I’ve got it covered.

I know what would happen.  You’d not have to worry about the disappointment of failing another diet.  You’d not have to beat yourself up about breaking another resolution.

You know what else might happen?  You might actually feel good about yourself.  You might have more time to spend on living life, because you’re not fussing over diets or having to get to the gym when you hate it.  You might actually look in the mirror one day, and not feel bad.

I can tell you what has happened to me since I stopped buying into body shame and loathing.  Now, just like Pantene, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen.  Let’s see:

  • I’m a heck of a lot happier than I was when I bought into all of that diet and body shame and loathing.
  • I can look in the mirror and not feel worthless, ugly, repulsive.
  • I can go shopping without it being a major exercise in self loathing.
  • I save a whole lot of money that I used to spend on diet pills, meal replacements, diet magazines, “fitness” gadgets, and a bajillion other expensive things designed to fail at losing weight and getting fitter so that I would just spend more money on them.
  • I get dressed in the morning and feel good about how I look, and if someone doesn’t like how I look, then tough shit to them!  I still feel good about how I look.
  • More people compliment me than ever.  Now that my shoulders are back and my head is held high, people feel they can approach me, they smile at me and I smile back.
  • I just smile more often than I used to.
  • When someone makes a rude comment, or is downright nasty, I now realise that’s their shit, not mine.
  • When the black dog of depression does bite my butt, and I find myself either depressed or anxious, I am better equipped to work it through than I was when I was full of body loathing and self hatred.  It still happens, but it is usually shorter and less severe.
  • I’m better company when socialising around food.  No more agonising, no more causing a fuss because “there’s nothing I can eat” (because I was eating nothing and hated being around food), no more self loathing and guilt trips for actually letting any food pass my lips.
  • The range of clothing I will now wear is far greater than it ever was.  All those things I told myself I was too fat to wear… just get in my wardrobe already!
  • I have so much more confidence with dating.  I hold my head up, look a dude in the eye and smile.
  • I save a shitload by not buying magazines.
  • I only watch TV without any ads… I can watch twice as much in the same time.
  • When I have conversations with people, it’s about INTERESTING stuff.  Not diets and how fat I am and blah blah blah.

And there are no doubt dozens of other benefits that have come my way since I got off the body loathing roller coaster.

Look, I can’t promise you that all of this is going to happen to you.  I can’t promise you that any of it is going to happen to you.  But don’t you think it’s worth a try?  Don’t you think that if you get just ONE benefit from giving up on all of the self loathing and actually being kind to your body, and therefore yourself, the experiment is worth it?

Would you give it a try?  Just for 2011.  Come on, the water’s fine.  Jump on in.  We’ll look after you.

American Apparel Marketing and the Objectification of Women

Published December 4, 2010 by sleepydumpling

*Heads up:  This post is going to have several photographs of women in little to no clothing, in poses that may represent sexual acts.  If you feel you may find these photographs offensive, triggering or upsetting, please do not continue reading this post.  This post also may not be considered safe for work, children or your Grandma.  Come back and have a look when you’re at home/they’re not watching.

I need to write the post that others failed when they wrote about American Apparel’s marketing and promotions.  It’s been a big week for me, with another big week coming, and I wasn’t sure I would have the spoons to blog about this topic yet, but I can’t leave it alone.

I won’t link to other posts.  You really don’t need to read them, they’re full of slut shaming (the misogynistic  judgement of women for having/displaying any sexuality), denial of female sexuality and general loathing towards women who they deem outside the “nice girl” box.  There is the use of words like slutification, pornification and sexualisation.  All of which conflate female sexuality with objectification, which is not helpful at all in taking on the negative stereotypes of women that are perpetuated in marketing and media.  Plus there is a rather massive dose of bullying and mean girl behaviour going on with most of them too.

Instead, I want to talk about American Apparel and the objectification of women that they perpetuate with their marketing.

I don’t know if any of you have seen any of American Apparel’s marketing.  Here’s an example:

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Now American Apparel make a whole bunch of Lycra/Spandex/Elastane stuff that you would consider as dance wear, gym wear, sports wear etc.  So yeah, it’s the kind of thing you expect to see dancers in, and it’s body fitting, because that’s what those kinds of garments are meant to do.  Tights, leotards, socks and similar things aren’t meant to be baggy and body hiding.

However, American Apparel seem to really think that women should always be presented in sexual positions in their marketing.  Legs open, bent over with bared buttocks, sexually available and open.  Often you won’t see the woman’s face, but if you do, she’s expressionless, vacant, compliant, submissive.  There is often alcohol involved which to me implies a removal of control from the women depicted as well.  Often the female models are splayed out in beds, sometimes with other clothing partially removed or yanked down to expose buttocks and genital areas.  Here are a few more examples:

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Very provocative stuff, as you can see.  Women in American Apparel marketing are treated as objects, laid out and available for the viewer to have whatever they like of them.

I’m not sure who this is marketing too.  Is it the women who would wear these items of clothing?  Would they respond favourably to this kind of imagery and go out and buy these products?  Or are the marketing images aimed at someone else?  Are they designed to create buzz in their controversy?

If you do a Google Image search for American Apparel, you will find they also sell men’s garments too, as well as some children’s pieces.  I noticed that the imagery for men and children are far, far less objectified than those for women.  The male models chosen always seem to be older looking than the women they use for their marketing too.  And they seem to opt for white men and children yet with a lot of the marketing images of women, they choose a high proportion of very young looking Asian and Latin American women.

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Personally I find the objectification of women in American Apparel’s marketing highly offensive.  Women are almost always shown in their images with either their legs spread or on all fours, regularly headless or at least expressionless.  Cameras are focused on genitals or the buttocks, even when the model’s face appears in the photograph.  The models are presented like sex dolls, completely devoid of any humanity in most cases.  Women are treated as objects for the gratification of others, rather than as human beings or of having emotions, thoughts, or intelligence of their own.  This is not about the sexualisation of women, it’s actually about a woman’s sexuality being removed from her, and her being nothing more than an object to be used.

In fact, American Apparel make it very clear that they don’t want a whole person when it comes to women.  They only want body parts:

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As you can see – they only want your backside, or there’s some breast there that they are willing to accept as well.

American Apparel’s marketing is very much aimed at young people.  It sends the message to the young people who view these marketing images that women are nothing more than parts to be used, ogled, spread out.  It’s not about the women in the ads being “slutty” or pornographic, it’s about the removal of humanity from the female subjects in the marketing.

Don’t buy from American Apparel.  Tell your friends and family not to buy from American Apparel.  Tell American Apparel that their marketing is offensive and unacceptable.  But don’t attach terms like slut, porn or sexuality to these marketing images.  They are dehumanised and objectified, not sexualised/slutified/pornified.

*Dr Samantha Thomas has also posted a great piece about the concept of “slutification”.  It’s well worth reading, go here to read it.

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