media

All posts in the media category

American Apparel Marketing and the Objectification of Women

Published December 4, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

*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:

Photobucket

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:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

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.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

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:

Photobucket

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.

Lynx Really Does Stink! (So Does Woolworths)

Published September 27, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

A lightning quick post tonight.  I’ve just read this piece on Melinda Tankard Reist’s blog about the current competition campaign from Unilever for the Lynx men’s deoderant brand.

Basically the competition reads like it’s a chance for men to win a holiday in a brothel, where women are served up for their pleasure, in a distinctly pornographic manner.

I find it incredibly offensive that in one of their campaigns, for their brand Dove, they push the body image message with their “Campaign for Real Beauty”, supposedly a positive campaign for women, but with their Lynx brand, they’re using the objectification of women as subservient man-pleasers with no other value than their sex to peddle cheap deodorant and body wash.

To really rub salt into the wound, this campaign is being supported and promoted by Woolworths supermarkets.  A company that purports to:

“recognises we have a high level of social responsibility, and we take these responsibilities seriously”

as well as:

As a member of those communities we understand that we have a duty to be more than just a retail outlet, but to also make a positive impact on the societies that we serve. We work to the principle that we can never take our customers for granted – we need to earn their trust and respect and this means acting responsibly both inside and outside our stores.

If you find this campaign as offensive and misogynistic as I do, please take the time to contact Woolworths and Unilever (I used the Dove contact page) and tell them very clearly that this campaign is unacceptable.  If you blog or use social media, share the web links as much as you can and ask your friends and family to contact Woolworths and Unilever as well.  If you can, and I realise not everyone has the luxury of choice, buy your groceries elsewhere too, until they pull this campaign.

An Open Letter to Professionals

Published July 16, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Dear journalists and other media agents, medical and health professionals, government organisations, researchers, academics and other relevant professionals,

I am writing to you to request politely but firmly, for the last time, for you to cease referring to fat people as “the obese”.

“The obese” that you refer to are not alien beings sent down from the planet Lardo.  They are not animals that have tried to assimilate with humanity.  They are not creatures from the black lagoon, nor are they any other kind of hideous monster you can dream up.  They are also not in any way less, sub, below, beneath or beyond yourself or any other human being.

“The obese” that you refer to, are people.  They are human beings who simply have more fat on their bodies than other human beings.

They are people with lives, families, jobs, responsibilities, intellect, humour, worries, friends, problems and feelings just like any other people.

When you refer to them, no us, as “the obese”, you dehumanise us.  You reduce us to some kind of “other” that isn’t of equal value to the rest of humanity.  You reduce us to a thing, rather than a person.

You don’t refer to thin people as “the thin”.  You don’t refer to tall people as “the tall”.  It is only those you wish to look down upon that are reduced to a “the”.  You know you’re not allowed to do it to people of colour any more, or people with disabilities, or people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  You all pretty much stopped doing that in your newspaper articles and medical papers and such some time ago.  At least publicly anyway, because you know there will be trouble if you do.

Now I know you need to have some kind of official term to use in your work.  The word obese is problematic, but if you really must use it, then how about referring to us as “obese people” or if you want to see obesity as a health condition, you could even use “people who suffer obesity”.  Neither of which really sit well with me personally, but at least those terms don’t dehumanise us.

However, you may call us fat people.  Because, well, that’s what we are.  We are people who are fat.  Like referring to young people or tall people or Australian people – fat people is just a factually descriptive term.

But hear me now.  You must stop referring to us as “the obese”.  Stop reducing us to our body type, and start remembering that we do have power and influence.  We have money to spend, votes to cast, voices to speak, brains to think and plenty of friends and family influence.

You could have access to all of this if you only remembered that we do have it.  Some of your colleagues are, and they’re already reaping the rewards.

Yours sincerely

A fat person.

Guest Post 2 – Enough is Enough by Dr Samantha Thomas

Published July 11, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I am more than thrilled to share with you the news that Dr Samantha Thomas, sociologist specialising in weight and body image issues, is back with another guest post here on Fat Heffalump.

I talk of the inflaters of the world, those people who raise people around them up rather than crushing them down, and for me, Samantha is one of the inflaters I have in my life, and I believe she inflates people all around her.

She joins us today to talk further on the double standards of several “Body Image Advocates” here in Australia, and to issue a call to arms for all who wish to change the climate of body shame not just here in Australia, but around the world.  Over to our guest:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Enough is Enough

I don’t often get away with my dudes to a place where I have total isolation from the media. The last 4 days have been a media free zone for us – no phones, no computers, no newspapers. It was HEAVEN.

Well you can run, but you can’t hide. And it was slightly amusing that literally a couple of minutes after arriving back home and picking up the Saturday paper I came across this article in the Courier Mail. Australia’s Next Top Model (ANTM) banned a 16 year old from the catwalk because, at a size 8, she was too fat. Now look, I don’t really have any opinions about ANTM. Sorry! I’ve never watched the Ozzie version, and I’m a bit smitten with Miss Jay and the dude with the white hair on the American version. So I’m declaring my conflict of interest and not commenting on the show.

But I WILL comment on the fact that once again a member of Australia’s National Body Image Advisory Group has been caught in another dodgy set of circumstances around the promotion of fat hate. Most of you will know that Mia Freedman, the Chair of the committee has also been criticized for the inconsistency between her role on the committee and the material she promotes on her website. This time it is Sarah Murdoch. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sarah Murdoch she is a former model and host of ANTM. According to Minister Kate Ellis she chose Murdoch and Freedman, “for their work in their industry, not for their looks”.

And so I landed with a thud back from my holiday bliss. And you know what.

I’ve had enough of these inconsistencies.

I’ve had enough of people who are supposed to be advocating for body image declaring “it’s not like I hate fat people”. There is a reason you would have to declare that out loud at a press conference.

I’ve had enough of the confusing messages that are sent when our National Body Image Advisory Committee includes some high profile individuals who then actively promote that certain types of bodies are the beautiful ideal.

I’ve had enough of the new saviour that is obesity surgery. Because when you get an email from a 17 year old who tells you that her obesity surgeon told her to turn the heater off in the winter so that she would shiver and burn more energy thus losing more weight, you realize that this is a profit driven industry out to exploit, not care for people.

I’ve had enough of articles that say that fat stigma will be reduced if we find a cure for obesity. Or that we should tackle fat stigma because it will make it easier for people to engage in healthy activity – oh and lose weight.

I’ve had enough of the emails from people who have asked me if I have any ‘miracles’ because they have been told by their doctors that they have got themselves so fat that they should just give up and wait to die.

I’ve had enough of people being paid lots of money to promote the diet industry, which promises everything, and only delivers physical and emotional pain.

I’ve had enough of the stupidity that somehow has us believe that we will protect young people from eating disorders if we give a magazine a ‘tick’ for declaring its airbrushing practices, but that we still allow that same magazine to run ‘diet’ articles, and advertisements for the weight loss industry.

Most of all, I’ve had enough of the hypocrisy that surrounds the body image/obesity/health debate in this country. And that includes everyone being allowed to be an expert on fat… oh except fat people.

I don’t think there is one person that is reading this that at one time or another hasn’t disliked what they saw in the mirror (or on the scales). I also don’t think that there is one person who is reading this that hasn’t been made to feel bad about their body by someone else. Some of you reading this will encounter this much more than others. And I am standing up and applauding you for the amazing strength and resilience that you show in the face of such a negative public gaze for what your bodies look like, and how they got to be how they are. I honestly don’t know how you do it.

But I do want to let you know that I am with you.  Standing side by side until we sort out this ridiculous situation that we have gotten ourselves into with ‘weight’.

And I will continue to advocate with you for change.  Because when we stand together, we are a very powerful voice indeed.

A voice that is getting stronger.

A voice that is becoming an amazing tool for highlighting the hypocrisy that exists around body acceptance, weight and health in Australia.

Let me give you a great example of the power of that voice in action.

Last week Herald Sun columnist Susie O’Brien weighed in (again) on the obesity debate. But before I write about that, lets have a little recap of some of the things Susie O’Brien has written about body image in the past. First up, in January, when supermodel Jen Hawkins bared all for body image acceptance, Susie wrote:

“I have written so many articles about body image… I have told women to be proud of themselves and told men to adore the flaws.”

She goes on to write.

“We are never going to have genuine body acceptance until people start getting used to seeing real, average, beautiful bodies.”

Now obviously I have issues with these statements. But I could see where she was coming from.  Not helpful, but a little bit heading in the right direction (even in the lets all strip off and show each other we don’t look like Jen Hawkins love fest that we all seemed to be going through at the beginning of the year).

So how then, just a few months later, can Susie O’Brien write this?

“Yes, it’s important that young people feel good about themselves. But it’s also important that young people have the best chance of living a long, healthy life without the serious life-threatening illnesses that come with obesity. Not to mention the teasing and bullying and low self-esteem that many fat kids face. So I want to know what’s being done to help young people who need to lose weight, and who need to get motivated to change their unhealthy bodies, rather than accept them as they are.”

Once again, the same old rhetoric emerges. Lets accept everyone’s real, beautiful bodies, flaws and all.

UNLESS YOU ARE FAT.

But what’s worse is that somehow it’s okay to then invite a bunch of people to participate in a live hate fest on fatties. That fat individuals are lazy. That fat parents were in essence abusing their children. That we should all aspire to be like Susie because her kids ask for broccoli when they get home from daycare.

Now every cloud has a silver lining. And the day that Susie chose to have that live blog was one of the most silver lined clouds I have seen for a while. Because not just one, or two, or three but at least TEN of us joined that live blog to SMASH HOLES in Susie’s arguments. We very clearly and rationally outlined our arguments, and in the process absolutely discredited what she and a bunch of others had to say. We all brought a slightly different perspective to the table, and I know I felt a whole lot better about being in the discussion because I knew others were there with me.

It’s not easy to be a lone voice. I have learnt that the hard way. And I guess that is the point of this post. If we want change, we have to start acting together. There is no doubt that the critics are there. I was on Catalyst about obesity surgery for kids a couple of weeks back and ABC journalist Melanie Tait (who has had a lapband) took it upon herself to very publically try to discredit me. And so many of you jumped in and supported me. And I cannot tell you what a difference that made.

Speaking out also brings emails like this.

“We’ve never met but I recently read your piece ‘Mama Mia and Body Image’ and it was a lifesaver. A total no holds barred lifesaver. Finally someone clearly explaining that I shouldn’t have to hide my body to make it acceptable to others. And that while there is nothing wrong with promoting physical health in the right context, mental health is equally important, and the guilt and shame brought about by being told in a /body image/ setting that you are freaky and need fixing (read here 5 foot 1 and size 20) is incredibly damaging. You have helped me reframe my thinking about this and regain some much needed sanity and perspective. I have sent copies of your piece to my women friends who are all shapes and sizes.”

This is why we do what we do. And why we need to work together. All of us will be able to contribute in different ways. Some of us will want to be on the front line. Others will want to join the discussion in safer spaces. Some might just want to listen and perhaps share pieces with their friends and family members. Some might want to offer a shoulder to lean on (or some much needed spell check skills!!). Everyone has a role to play in creating change.

So who is in? !!!!

By the way. Keep your emails coming. I love them really.  Or follow me on Twitter @samanthastweets

Oh and I reckon Susie is a shoe in for the next vacancy on the National Body Image Advisory Committee! What do you think?

Quick Hit: Adam Hills

Published July 5, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Ok I just have to share this video with you all, it’s Australian comedian Adam Hills on the subject of women’s magazines and body image:

I adore Adam Hills.  He’s cute, funny, and most importantly… nice.  Nice is much maligned, considered boring, but give me nice over cool or edgy or rich or powerful any day.

A couple of years I saw Adam live on his Inflatable tour.  He was hilariously funny, as he usually is, but I walked away so inspired by his performance.  At the crux of the entire gig was the message that he wanted to be one of the people who is an “inflater”.   Someone who, when you spend time with them, makes you feel great, who inflates your self esteem and lifts you up.  As opposed to a “deflater”, who makes you feel bad about yourself and brings you down.

I want to be an inflater.  I want to be around other inflaters in my life.

But… but… your health?

Published May 29, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I came across this vintage ad on Tumblr:

Lucky Strike

Pretty full on isn’t it?  Back in the 20’s/30’s/40’s (and indeed since), smoking was endorsed as a method of keeping thin, or getting thin.

It wasn’t just for the ladies either:

Lucky Strike Man

We of course now know just how damaging to our health smoking is, and that it’s “benefits” for weight loss are most certainly not going to outweigh the damage it does to our health.  However back in the day, cigarette advertising was peppered with endorsements from doctors and “scientific studies”.  Face the facts, as the above ad says.

Lady Doctor

Science

Even the dentist jumped in on the game:

Dentists too

But what about things that are endorsed now, even by the medical profession, as life saving ways to lose that weight that is killing you?  Diet drugs, shakes, replacement meals and snacks, herbal “remedies” and other potions, lotions, pills and powders.  We’re told they’re safe ways to lose weight, but we’ve already seen some ripped off the market because of deaths, and one look at the ingredient list of any of the non-prescription items will raise a whole pile of questions about what the hell that stuff is.

I myself was put on prescription speed to suppress my supposedly voracious appetite so that I would lose weight (with no heed paid to the fact that I actually wasn’t eating enough).  There’s a whole blog post in that little episode.

Let’s not even get started on weight loss surgery.  Then there’s the simpler ideas of removing whole food groups, or only existing on one type of food, while adding manic exercising into the mix.  All of this is supposedly for the health of fat patients.

Of course, a lot of the advertising campaigns of the past were pseudoscience, and carefully worded and crafted interpretations of what the medical profession had to day.  But is current media and marketing any different?  Have you heard the list of side effects and “results not typical” in a standard American drug advertisement, put there to prevent consumers from suing the arse off these companies?  How much of what is presented to us as science and fact right now is spin?

But we buy it.  So do a lot of everyday members of the medical profession.

How many more of these things have to come out as deadly or dangerous before we stop focusing on using extreme methods to lose weight, and focusing on general health, regardless of body size.  If “science” and “facts” were wrong about smoking, who’s to say it isn’t also wrong about all of the extreme methods of losing weight that are sold to us today?

Personally, I don’t believe it’s all about the health of fat patients one iota.  I believe it’s a moral panic around obesity, and that it’s purely about disgust and repulsion for the fat body.  A disgust so vicious that many in the medical profession would rather put fat people at risk of disease, disability and death to possibly get that weight off, than just focus on getting their patients feeling good and improving their health.  Fat has been so vilified that it has become standard practice to get fat patients to lose weight no matter what it does to their physical health, their self esteem, their emotional health.

Getting thin  has become more important than getting healthy.  Losing weight has become more important than just eating a balanced diet and being active.

Not to mention that someone out there is making lots, and lots, and lots of money from getting fat people to buy all of this crap.

Makes you think back to these ads again doesn’t it?

Slender

No one can deny huh?  Would that be just like no one can deny that being fat is bad for your health?

Real Women/Fake Women

Published May 1, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I want to share a photograph with you all:

Photobucket

This one popped up on my Tumblr last week, and someone else posted a link to it via Twitter as well.  I have been able to find that the model’s name is Natasha Poly and the image is from a shoot by Mario Sorrenti for Vogue Paris.

I want to point out a few things about this photograph, from a high fashion magazine.  Because I believe that the woman in this photograph looks like a concentration camp victim with a fake tan.   Now before you get all angry about that statement, read the rest of this blog post.

I would never presume to comment on another woman’s body, or suggest that a thin woman is unhealthy or ugly or anything else derogatory.  But I am going to say it about this photograph, because what we’re looking at is NOT Natasha Poly in her natural state.  It is not the woman we are looking at, but a fashion magazine’s representation of her.  We’re not looking at a real woman any more in this case.

I want you to look carefully at the photograph.  I’ll point out a few things for you.

Let’s start with the rib cage area.  Can you see the the highlights in the fake tan to define each and every rib?  Look down her right arm.  See the white highlight again, to make her arm look thin?  You will also see them on her left shoulder, collarbone and cheek bone.  And the really worrying bit?  That wee fair spot right on her right hip bone.

It also has darker patches of tan in key places.  Under the cheek bone, between the V’s of her ribcage, on the inside of her thigh, inside of her arms and a streak down the outside of her left leg.

All of this is to make the model, who I am sure is beautiful on her own, look even thinner and taller than she actually is.

Now look at some of the angles of her body.  The angle where her right hip meets her leg.  Or her waist on her left, down to the bikini string.  Take a look at her right shoulder, lifted to her chin.  Now at her right armpit around her inner arm and to her breast.  Look carefully at her left collarbone.  And finally, have a look at the length of her right lower leg.

Can you see the evidence of photoshopping there?  How the parts of her body are out of proportion or at angles that don’t fit with other angles of her body.

And of course, there’s the lighting (both real and photoshopped) that highlights the bones in her body to almost skeletal detail.

Models are beautiful women and they’re the rare examples of human beings that are tall, slim and even featured.  They’re gorgeous, and that’s why they’re models.  But what is happening more and more overtly is the twisting of the features of women in photographs, due to make-up, lighting, tanning products and poses and due to post production work with Photoshop and the like.  Real women are being turned into these ideals that are wholly unreal, and as far as I’m concerned, freak shows.

This is why I believe we have to use the term “real women” – because what we’re being presented is not in any way real at all.

It’s horrifying that even the tall, slender, beautiful models aren’t good enough any more.  They have to be painted and manipulated into taller, thinner, more unobtainable standards that no human can emulate without doing some serious damage to themselves.

What’s next for fashion magazines?  Avatar style CGI work that in no way resembles a human being?

I believe we need to stop worrying about offending each other with talking about bodies in the media and whether they are too thin or too fat, and focus on the work that is being done to images of real women, regardless of their shape and size, that takes them from photographs of real women, to caricatures of women.  Because we women are not characters, we’re people, and we shouldn’t be sold what I think of as “lies of beauty”.  This is not beauty.  Beauty is human and flawed and varied.  It’s not a set of treatments in a photo editing programme.

This is being held up to young women as the beauty ideal.  Looking at images that have been “doctored” like this and expecting their own bodies to look like this if they just stick to that diet, just do some exercise is making women and girls both physically and emotionally sick.  This is one of the reasons why in western culture, girls with perfectly healthy bodies think that they are fat, and why so many boys and men have an unrealistic ideal of the female body.

We are being presented a fake version of womanhood with photos like the above.

Instead of bickering over what constitutes a real woman or not, let’s just draw the line in the sand – real is how any given woman is in the flesh so to speak, even those who have had cosmetic surgery (which I personally don’t believe in, but those who’ve had it are still real women, we didn’t make them up in our heads) or are transgender, and anything doctored, altered, adjusted, photoshopped, edited or airbrushed away from that is unreal/fake/false.

In the case of this example I’m sharing with you, Natasha Poly is a real woman – that image above is not.

I want to see real women in fashion, beauty, entertainment, marketing and the media.  Women that should I meet them face to face, what I see is what was on the page and/or screen, not the unedited version of something that they are not and that nobody could possibly be.

Auntie Heffalump’s Advice Column

Published February 9, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

One of the great things about WordPress as a blogging platform is the stats and information it gives you.  Well, that and being able to send troll commenters direct to spam so I never have to read their bullshit.  Probably the most eye opening piece of information is the search terms that people use to find your blog.  At the moment, the number one search string leading to this blog at the moment is the phrase “what will my friends think about me dating a fat woman”.

So, let’s talk about it.  Cos you know, Auntie Heffalump doesn’t mind sharing a bit of her wisdom and advice.  Are you ready?  Let’s go…

Who gives a shit about what your friends think about who you are dating?!

Because if they are truly your friends, and you honestly want to be with this woman (which you should be, or why the hell are you dating her?), they won’t give a flying fuck about what shape or size she is, they’ll care that a) you are happy and b) that she treats you well.  Because that is what is really important, and any “friend” that thinks otherwise is not really your friend.  And you shouldn’t be giving it a second thought either.

If you really like someone, let alone really love them, they will be beautiful in your eyes, regardless of what magazines and movies and people who profit from the body image misery of others say they should look like.  If you’re dating someone that you don’t feel that way about, you need to ask yourself why it is that you’re dating them.  And if you want to get some of that sweet, sweet sexy lovin’ from someone, you’d better find them beautiful and tell them so.

The same goes for your friends and your own body shape/size.  If your friends or a date are judging you on what shape/size your body is, they’re not really you’re friends.  True friends care about WHO you are, not what you look like or if you fit some kind of shallow ideal.  I say get rid of those false friends and find some decent ones who really do care about you for the right reason.  It was the best thing I ever did.

The thing is, what does someone’s physical shape/size matter if they’re a complete douchebag?  I have a relative who is considered outwardly gorgeous, blonde, pretty, thin, etc – but she’s a complete bitch who treats everyone badly, so it makes her ugly to the core.  Yet I have other friends who are fat, or have bad skin, or are hairy, or short, or a million other things that our media and marketing tell us are hideously ugly, but they’re so lovely that these “flaws” meand absolutely nothing to me.  I don’t even notice these thing most of the time, unless THEY point it out to me.  What I notice is their kindness, their intelligence, their sense of humour, their gentleness and so on.  Maybe they have something that is considered unsightly, but I notice other beautiful physical things about the people I care about.  A cute pixie face, gorgeous cheekbones, great hair, soft hands, lovely teeth, a beautiful smile.  When you truly care about someone, something as trivial as fat or acne or whatever doesn’t matter a jot.

For those of you worried about how others think of you because of your physical appearance, let those thoughts go.  Treat yourself well, look after your grooming and find a style that makes you feel good about yourself, and anyone who thinks that isn’t good enough is not worth your energy and emotion.  Put your energy and emotion in living your life to the full and being a person that you can be proud of.

There ARE lots of people out there who will love you for who you are, not some shallow measure.

Isn’t Christmas Supposed to be MERRY?

Published December 19, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Ahh, here we are, less than a week away from Christmas.  It’s the silly season, that time of year we’re all meant to be celebrating, being grateful for all that we have and spending happy time with the folks in our lives, be they friend or family.  You know, being merry.

So why am I hearing SO much heartache from so many people right now?  Or should I say, again this year.

I can’t count the number of times over the past few weeks that I’ve heard someone say something like “Ugh, Christmas – the time of year my family declares open season on criticising me for my weight.”  Or agonising over people judging them at the office Christmas party for whatever they eat.  Or perhaps saying that they can’t enjoy Christmas because they are on a diet and can’t have all the things other people are having.  Not to mention the merry remorse – the whole “Oh I’ve eaten so much tonight, I’m going to have to be so good after this!”

And then there is this malarkey about Santa being a global ambassador for obesity. Pardon my frankness… but oh for fuck’s sake!

Christmas means a lot to me.  Not only because I am Christian and it has spiritual significance, but also because I believe it is a time where goodwill is actively encouraged (rather than the usual sense of “me entitlement” that is flourishing in our current culture) and where I make even more effort to spend some time with the people that matter to me.

I say give yourself a Christmas present.  Relax.  Be kind to yourself.  Do not accept anyone criticising your body, your eating, your exercise regime (or lack of one).  Enjoy the treats of Christmas time, listen to your body and when it tells you it’s had enough, believe it.  For those of us in the Southern hemisphere, go easy on yourself in the hot weather, have a swim if you enjoy it.  For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, stay warm.  Indulge a bit.  Laugh with people you care about.  Don’t sweat over what to buy people for gifts, buy what you know will make them feel good.

Spend the most time with people who make you feel good about yourself, and try to avoid those who don’t.  If you have to endure people who don’t make you feel good, remember that their shitty comments and attitudes are worth nothing.  What matters are the people who you love and who love you.

Let go of the guilt.  It accomplishes absolutely nothing good for you, and prevents you from getting anything constructive done.  So what, you ate too much.  You now have a belly ache and know not to do it again!

Leave Santa a treat.  Not a diet treat.  The poor bugger has so much to do in 24 hours, he needs all the fuel he can get.  If he is in a hurry and doesn’t have time to eat the treat you leave for him, eat it yourself on his behalf.  Santa hates waste.

I know what I’m doing this Christmas.  Spending time with friends whose company I enjoy, talking, laughing and enjoying good food and drinks.  Then cranking up my air conditioning, plugging in my shiny new Wii and playing some Wii tennis!

When Lady Journalists Attack

Published September 8, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Well, have I got something for you tonight! This article was published in the Courier Mail (Brisbane, Australia) today with the dramatic title of “Plus-size Models Doing Big Girls No Favour”.

In it, the author, Susie O’Brien suggests that the increase in plus-size models in the fashion market are not a good idea because it gives the impression that it’s ok to be fat. She also criticises television shows like Drop Dead Diva and the fact that retailers are starting to provide fashionable clothing for plus-sized women. To quote her directly:’

But there are also many larger people who are just plain fat, and who would be better off being encouraged to lose weight rather than always be told it’s ok to be overweight.

Now firstly, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never experienced being “always told it’s ok to be overweight”. ALWAYS told that Ms O’Brien? I am wondering where you got that idea. Perhaps it was the people on the street who yell encouragingly at fat women “Go for it sister!! Rock that hot fat body you sexy thing!” Or the constant news pieces about how AWESOME it is that there is an obesity crisis going on in our country. Maybe it’s those doctors that tell us that our wonderful fat bodies protect us from disease and illness?
Oh hang on… that’s in the reverse universe! Silly me. *eyeroll* Ms O’Brien dear, back to this universe hmmm?
She then goes on to say:

But it’s time to get real – fat people may be happier but they’re also digging their graves with a fork, and we’re all paying for it.

Firstly, last time I looked I was a tax payer, in fact a taxpayer that has one of the highest quotas in relation to my income, because as a single, woman without children who works full time, and has private health cover, I’m not collecting anywhere from the Government for the tax I pay. So am I not entitled to a piece of my tax dollar coming back to me? Fat people pay tax too y’know Ms O’Brien.
And secondly, here we go again, the old fat people shame trick. All of us fatty pigs that are going to die and make the rest of “normal society” pay their hard earned dollars for us to be happy and fat.
Now, they didn’t publish my comment that I left on this article, probably because it makes sense, but what I asked is this – If shaming and pressuring people into thinness actually worked to make the “obesity crisis” go away, wouldn’t we have seen evidence of this by now? After all, Westerners have been heavy into the diet thing for some decades now. I know that my Grandmother has been dieting and felt shame about her weight all my life, and as you know I’m past 35. I daresay she was doing so before I was born. It was really the 50’s and 60’s that saw the diet/body obsession culture kick off, and then it kind of went nuclear in the 80’s. So if all these decades of shame and body obsession and thin = beauty actually worked, wouldn’t the levels of obesity in our culture be decreasing, not increasing? Wouldn’t the average be smaller than in the past, than larger?
Perhaps, just perhaps, by empowering people with confidence, strong self esteem, and a sense of achievement and a place in society, they’re more likely to be productive, healthy members of that society? They’re more likely to have the confidence to take on a productive role in society, to be active and willing participants in life rather than shutting themselves away in shame and embarrassment.
I certainly think so.
But what I think sums up Ms O’Brien perfectly is this sentence.

Losing weight is hard work. It takes sacrifice and effort. As a mother of three in my late 30’s with a new gym membership, I know this first-hand.

I think I understand. Perhaps Ms O’Brien doesn’t like her own body. If she doesn’t like her own body, how dare anyone that she considers fatter than her like theirs? Everyone should put in all that sacrifice and effort that she is. Let alone all that money she spent on her fancy gym membership. Perhaps if Ms O’Brien stopped worrying about how everyone else is living their lives, and focused on letting go of her own body issues, she might realise that it’s none of her business.